Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Home Cooked Assam Laksa @ Fruit n Spice, Balik Pulau

The first time I heard of this place was from Dad, who normally would share stories of his holidays with me over the phone. He made a trip to Penang with Mum and bro, who was there on assignment. So while bro was doing his job, Mum and Dad explored the island.

They chanced upon this place during their aimless drive and was attracted by the signage. They drove in and Dad told me how the place was tastefully done without losing its village house charm. I remembered this story and made sure that I included it on my itinerary when I visited the island with my friends.

As we drove into its compound, I noticed how it was surrounded by tall durian trees and soon after found out that it was a durian orchard, too. For more details on their durian tasting sessions, look up their website.

I also noticed that they converted their front porch into an open- air restaurant surrounded by greenery - very smart idea to take advantage of their hilltop location, where it is breezy.

Our car was parked under a shady canopy of budding morning glory plants with many big bumble bees buzzing around.

We made out way to the front portion of the house, where the food action was...

The place was well-kept and if I remember correctly, Dad mentioned that the owner was a fellow architect. 

He must have been an architect who loved his antiques, as many of the furniture were made up of them!

Even the wash basin and tap were ingeniously made out of collectibles (I see a common trait in architects here...)!

They served a home-cooked menu, which was not the most expansive but was sufficient. We all settled for assam laksa, pai tee and sour plum drink.

Pai tee is a thin and crispy tart shell filled with a spicy and sweet mixture of thinly sliced vegetables and prawns. It is a popular Peranakan snack, which is very similar to the popiah, as the main filling is shredded Chinese turnips and carrots.

As there were five of us, the serve of pai tee was just right (RM4/AUD1.35 for a serve of 5). I really liked it, as the pastry shell was crispy and provided that addictive crunch when chewed. The filling was fresh and tasted great when eaten with a dash of sweet chilli sauce.

The main course of assam laksa (RM4/AUD1.35 for a small serve, RM5/AUD1.70 for a big serve) was a bowlful of colourful aromatic delight. I am not a big fan of assam laksa but this, I really enjoyed. The smell of the mackerel soup was not over-fishy (is there such a word?) and the amount of "heko" or thick sweet prawn paste was just right. The other ingredients and garnishes such as the galangal, lemongrass, chilli, onion slices, mint leaves, pineapple slices and torch ginger flower made the dish exceptionally fragrant. However, if it were slightly less spicy than it was, it would have been perfect.

To wash down the heat (not from the food but from the weather), we all had a serve of iced sour plum drink (RM1.50/AUD0.50). Very refreshing!

If you are in Penang over the weekend and would like an authentic home-cooked meal (they claim that they do not use any MSG in their cooking), I highly recommend this place. Look them up in your GPS and be very careful while driving, as the roads leading there are windy and very narrow. There is plenty of parking within their compound and there is free wifi.

Also an interesting point: They were featured in Episodes 12 and 13 of the currently on-air TVB drama, Outbound Love (单恋双城) starring Ruco Chan (陈展鹏), Aimee Chan (陳茵媺), Lin Xiawei (林夏薇), Tony Hung (洪永城), Matt Yeung (楊明), Elaine Yiu (姚子羚) and Samantha Ko (高海寧).

Fruit n Spice
202B Jalan Sungai Pinang, 11010 Balik Pulau, Penang, Malaysia.
Tel: +60 4 866 1807, Mob: +60 12 401 0101 (Mr. Eric Kee)
E-mail: info@fruitnspice.com
Open only on weekends and public holidays from 10:00am until sold out

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