I was excited about my hawker food date with my younger sister. I got to Wee Nam Kee early enough to beat the lunch crowds and placed our orders shortly before Yang arrived. We then waited in schoolgirl-anticipation for our roasted chicken rice, hotplate beancurd and “san ba” fried noodles.
10 minutes later, our roasted chicken rice arrived. The roasted chicken was pleasing and the rice fragrant but somewhat sticky. And that was it.
5 minutes later, we heard someone at the cashier yell to her assistant to check on our other orders. 10 minutes later, noone offered any status updates. 20 minutes later, with no sign or even an acknowledgement of whether our other two dishes were on their way, we gave up. The chicken rice wasn't even mind-blowing and we almost blew our top.
It wasn’t so much so that we were kept waiting – after all, we were prepared to wait. It was the cluelessness, the ignorance and the eventual nonchalance of whether our food was even being prepared. We paid for our chicken rice and my younger sister didn’t even bother reminding them we had also ordered a lime juice – that was a peace offering.
Still hungry, we walked over to Penang Road Café, having heard good things about this modest eatery (of course, there are those who love being piss-asses and can’t help showing off their culinary connoisseurness by comparing this eatery to hawker stores in Penang).
Compared to our wait earlier, both our dishes were served up within 10 minutes. Good start for a couple of grouchy folks.
The broth of the Hokkien prawn mee was seriously intense and oomphy. Never mind the scrawny prawns or lean meat, it was all about the broth and Penang Road Café's played hardball. I even liked how they automatically served both rice vermicelli and yellow noodles. However, the Hokkien prawn mee didn’t take the spotlight away from the Penang char kway teow.
The Penang char kway teow was one of the best or probably even the best Penang char kway teows I have had in my 26 years of life - and soon to be further shortened if I get my weekly fix of it.
Penang Road Café's char kway teow was fried alongside cockles, lup cheong and eggs swathed in wonderful “wo hei” smokiness. I couldn’t even tell when the kway teow ended and the egg began; then suddenly I would bite into a piece of crispy pork lard, releasing an urgent unctuous aroma that made me feel as if I had just gotten away with a dirty little secret.