Lunch on Wednesday at the old Sin Kheang Aun restaurant in Chulia Lane, George Town with three of my old mates from school. That's Derek and Kah Kheng in the middle, and Oon Hup on the right. The restaurant was empty when I arrived there slightly before noon but it had filled up within the hour as its regular patrons arrived. Why I say "regular patrons" is because the restaurant's proprietor, Ong, seemed to know many of them by name. In fact, Kah Kheng seemed to know him quite well too. As for me, I don't know him. In fact, I haven't been to this restaurant for, what, 20 years or so? Maybe.
The Sin Kheang Aun is actually a very old restaurant in the city. The moment you step into the place, you are transported at least 50 or 60 years into the past. It exudes a laid back, old world charm which I've always liked. Time stands still in the restaurant but not the prices of the dishes, according to Derek. They have gone up tremendously but then, what hasn't increased in the country lately? Yet, with the old, loyal customers keeping to come back, it says a lot for this quality and quantity of food in this restaurant.
Just an inkling of some of the dishes we ordered: the pomfret (tau tay) in the curry was super-fresh, the prawns were very fresh too and stir-frying them the asam way brought out a particular zing to our tastebuds, the bittergourd fried with meat and salted duck egg was totally out of this world, and the kerabu prawn kept me wanting more and more of the stuff. I hear the restaurant also serves chicken chop which is a popular dish of the Hakka community in Penang.