Now, this coffee shop has been around for ages and it has acquired a reputation for its street food. In particular, everyone wants to try the fried oysters (oh chien) as it is acclaimed to be the most famous on the island. When I was a kid, my father would, once in a very long while, take me there for a plate. A special treat. The memory of those few occasions still lingers in my mind.
Even now whenever I travel along Carnarvon Street or when I had to turn into Kimberley Street, I would turn to look longingly at that particular corner of the coffee shop. But I would often be on my way to somewhere else, or found it inconvenient to park the car or most times, I would find the stall not opened for the day.
But earlier this month, the opportunity presented itself for my whole family. We did find ourselves passing the coffee shop at around lunch time and so, we decided to stop there. We ordered a plate of the fried oysters and also from the Koay Teow Soup hawker.
While waiting, all eyes were on the hawker. We were looking at how he was preparing the food. To cut the story short, I must say that I was greatly shocked. The amount of cooking oil that had gone into the frying was alarmingly copious. If ever there was a candidate for the most unhealthy food in Penang, this must be it. Generous amounts of cooking oil went into the frying pan at every stage of the preparation. And finally, just before the hawker apportioned out the omelette onto the plates, the oil was scooped back into a pot, waiting to be unleashed again for the next round of frying.
If ever there was a disturbing sight, this must be it. But I must say that all this was done openly for everyone to see. If the idea of wolfing down a plateful of greasy, cholesterol-laden fried oysters is not your idea of healthy eating, well you have been warned here!
[UPDATE: I forgot. I forgot to mention something about the fried oysters. How did I find it? Well, it was not exactly like how I remembered it Although it was a long time ago, I do remember that the omelette used to be soft and a little chewy. That was because of the special flour used in the original batter. Now, the texture was crispier. Not so original anymore. Times have changed. A totally different experience.]
As for the Koay Teow soup, this was only the third time in about six months that I had ordered from the hawker. My verdict is that this hawker's preparation is rather inconsistent. I had enjoyed his offering the first two times but this time around, I was greatly disappointed. The soup lacked the earlier oomph - in my opinion, almost tasteless - and despite it coming off fresh from the stove, the bowls arrived at our table lukewarm. So my advice to anyone who plan to try his food: be prepared for the best or the worst from this man. He has his good days. And bad days.