Tuesday, February 23, 2016

YummY! - Air Itam Penang Laksa @ Angcle Peoh

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Air Itam Penang Laksa @ Angcle Peoh
Kota Kemuning, Selangor, Malaysia - February 2016
Penang Laksa has been named the 7th best food in the world by CNN GoSo what is Penang Laksa? It is a dish of bouncy rice noodles served in a bowl of fishy soup (that's the simple description, to know more click here).
Of all the Penang Laksa, the one from Air Itam is the most well known; some locals may beg to differ but ask many about Penang food and Air Itam Market Penang Laksa will somehow crop into the chat! And now there's no need to travel all the way up north to the Pearl of the Orient to savour this delicious dish; just drop by to Angcle Peoh in either Kota Kemuning or Bandar Bukit Tinggi. The best thing is that they not only serve their signature Penang Laksa but a fair bit of other good Penang food; one can literally have a Penang street food galore there!

Led by Tailim (of the hApPy HaPpY blogs), we had cycled to be part of the fun at the Big Fun Day at Bandar Rimbayu organised by IJM Land (... click here to see photos of the ride and the fun). It was real fun at that event with lots of activities to take part in, activities that soon worked up our appetite and we ended up having a food gala at Angcle Peoh's.
The place though Spartan in layout was very cozy, a glass window gives a peek into the kitchen to see them preparing their food.

 Up on on of the walls were murals that laid out the history of Uncle Peoh; how his mother had started selling laksa from a humble beginning, hawking them from a rattan basket carried with a kandar stick. And from there how the business have grown with good patronage by the locals. On the walls too were photos of colonial George Town, giving customers a walk down history lane.

From a side door, I had a looked into the kitchen - all was spick and span, a very comforting clean place. Ms. Ang (Uncle Peoh's daughter) with her husband were busy preparing the food that we had ordered.

There were several of us and we decided to order dishes to share communal style, so that we could all have a taste of each and everything we ordered. The management was most kind to provide us individual bowls & plates so that we could share our food. As we ate, we compared notes on how good (or not good) the food was and the conversation naturally drifted to comparing the food here with others (notably those in Penang). Someone started rating the food on a scale of 10... and we ended up comparing our rating..... "Er... this one 7/10...", "No... it's better should be 9/10!"
So here we will apply those ratings. Bear in mind that these are personal points of view (or rather, points of taste).

This here is their signature dish, the Air Itam Market Penang Laksa. It's served with their renown soup of well shredded fish and garnished with mint leaves, shredded bunga kantan (ginger flower), and to spice things up, small cuts of chilli padi (bird's eye chilli).

Now what makes a good Penang Laksa and make it a class above the rest?
Most of all, it is the spicy soup and the noodles themselves. The soup is one of a sweet-sour taste with the underlying flavours of the spices added into the cooking. Here the soup is very good; just nicely sweet and not overly sour (like those from Petaling Street).
The noodles were suitably thick with that bitey bounce one would expect from Penang Laksa, and with a silky smooth surface (those who are familiar with laksa will understand these fine points as some noodles do have rougher surfaces). The greens (cuts of onions, cucumber strips, and thin strip cut of green Chinese lettuce) were fresh and crunchy. In fact one can order this laksa without the noodles, just with veggies.
Rating: 9/10 for the closeness to the original (I am tempted to give 10/10, but the atmosphere of eating while the colourful market life passes by was missing).
7/10 for the taste, flavour and aroma.

The Curry Mee (I am using the Penang lingo here so will not refer to it as Curry Laksa) and the Penang Hokkien Mee were not up to par.
The curry was not flavourful enough, was short of the santan creaminess and I suspect some spices were missing. (Yes, Penang Curry Mee is not as creamy as the Kuala Lumpur ones, but the creaminess of this was way below.) The tau pok is the KL variety, bigger and not as soft and musky as Penang's - anyway one can't get Penang-style tau pok in the Klang Valley.
The Hokkien Mee had good ingredients, but the most important factor, the soup had a rawish prawn flavour. I had a feeling that the prawn shells were ground raw when making the soup; the shells should be cooked first.
Rating: For both 4/10.

Their Pork Noodles (we had the Keow Teow version) is one of the best I have tasted. The clear-looking soup was surprisingly very tasty. This comes very close to Penang Koay Teow Th'ng. Note: the lard bits were extras that we asked to be added.
Rating: 8/10

Penang Char Keow Teow - coming from Penang, this is one dish that I get very critical about. Although it's a simple dish - stir fried flat rice noodles - but not many can get it right, some say the noodles must dance in the wok while frying is done! 

Angcle Peoh's is as close as it get to the original from Penang, their frying is up to par with parts of the noodles slightly burnt to give it a better aroma and the bean sprouts just nicely done to still retain their crunchiness. And they serve it on a banana leaf with a few nicely sized prawns!
Rating: 8/10 (I would give them 9/10 if they can import the thinner flat noodles from Penang).

The Fried Hokkien Mee (in Penang lingo - Hokkien Char) is not to be confused with Kuala Lumpur's Hokkien Mee. This is the Penang style, one fried slightly soggy and with some gravy; garnished with deep-fried cut shallots and is served with sambal belacan.

This was indeed a surprise find; it's a dish that's hard to find in the Klang Valley, especially one that is as good as Angcle Peoh, and it was prepared by Ms. Ang herself! The gravy was the killer - very tasty.
For Penangites who miss this or for others who have not tried it, THIS is a "MUST ORDER" dish!
Rating: 8/10 (I will give an extra point if they given better sambal belacan, the one provide was rather watery).

Stir-fried Tom Mee. This is not a traditional Penang street fare; but these days up in the state the hawkers are getting more creative in coming up with new fusion food. They are even fusing the Ban Chien Kueh with western food; serving them with cheese and ham! And there is even Peanut Butter Chee Cheong Fun.

The Cendul was just okay. Perhaps they could improve on their preparation as the green noodles were slightly hard on the inside and the santan had frozen bits.
Rating: 4/10

Ice Kacang, this quintessential Malaysian favourite was good with lots of ingredient including attap seeds. Only complaint by my buddies was that the ice was not shaven finely enough.
Rating: 7/10 

Despite the few short-comings, overall we thoroughly enjoyed our meal. Now I will know where to head for when looking for good Penang Laksa and other good Penang street food....
Angcle Peoh's!

Angcle Peoh's Food Menu/Pricing (Please not listing & pricing is at time of this blog).

Angcle Peoh's Food Menu

Angcle Peoh's Drinks & Dessert Menu

P27 Jalan AB31/AB, Kota Kemuning, 40460 Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia.
Tel.: +603-51319378     |     Mobile: +6017-9362223
Hours: 9:00am to 8:00pm (Closed once a month)

Bukit Tinggi Outlet: 42, Lorong Batu Nilam 21B, Bandar Bukit Tinggi 2, 41200 Klang, Selangor, Malaysia.
Tel.: +603-38855460
Hours: 10:00am to 9:00pm (Closed once a month)

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