Holiday Foodsteps: The Little Gems of Ipoh and Penang

 As always, one finds little things that stand-out along the way - they may not be full-blown meals but these little gems command the spotlight (and are often the things we remember most). These are some of my favourite spotlight-stealers:

Sin Eng Heong Kaya Puff
No. 64, Jln Mustapha Al-Bakri,
Jln Clare,30300,Ipoh Perak.
05 2439 659, 012 453 4596 (Elaine)

Orders for the kaya puffs were being taken even before we got to Ipoh - I suppose that should have been a bright, flashing indicator of how good the puffs are. Alas, my family decided to skip on the orders, deciding that we'd be fine without a taste of these much-talked-about kaya puffs. As the packets of warm kaya puffs, fresh from the oven, made their way onto the bus after we stopped by the bakery to collect them, we relented and tucked into some.  The pastry that gives into the delightfully rich kaya concoction is a masterpiece - so light, flaky and crumbly that it surprised me. Devine. Simply devine.

Muar Chee
Gurney Drive Hawker Area

This what I've come to know affectionately as the inside-out muar chee. In possibly every other part of Malaysia, muar chee comes in the form of glutinous rice balls with sweet filling (peanut or otherwise), rolled in flour. They've always been a favourite of mine and I have fond memories of tucking into muar chee balls and getting the flour all over my mouth and fingers. When I first stumbled upon this version of one of my favourite snacks, I was intrigued - and how can one not be as you stand in front of the stall watching the lady expertly cut the glutinous rice strips with a blade while simultaneously coating the pieces with what would usually be the peanut filling. Lets just say I fell in love at first bite.

Swatow Lane Ice Kacang 
New World Park 
Swatow Lane off Burma Road

When it comes to hawker food, competition is tough in Penang and while New World Park offers the comfort of a clean, modern setting for hawker food, the food does disappoint somewhat. It is (more than) worth a visit, though, if you're on the hunt for ice kacang. This is perhaps my favourite version of the iconic Malaysian dessert - a treasure trove of the usual suspects (sweetcorn, redbean, jelly, syrup, peanuts), fresh fruits, attap seeds and the most incredible ice cream (one gets a choice of ice cream flavours - durian really stood out for me).

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