Monday, April 19, 2010

Bee Tin Curry Mee of Chain Ferry Road

"This curry was like a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony that I'd once heard... especially the last movement, with everything screaming and banging 'Joy.' It stunned, it made one fear great art. My father could say nothing after the meal."

Anthony Burgess

The Chinese curry is an odd animal of a cuisine, and other than being spicy, I personally consider it to be an entirely novel dish much divorced from its Indian inspiration. Comparing the two would be like comparing apples and oranges, so I shan’t do that.

The Chinese take on curry is generally more watered down (though that does not mean it’s any less hot) and there is a distinct lack of the usual heavy repertoire of spices which the Indians favour. I would know; I had almost 3 years to get intimate with those spices in India, where even the Chinese and Western food taste Indian. The Indian curry is passionate. The Chinese curry is measured and utilitarian.

Now that I have that out of the way, I’d like to do a review of a pretty popular Chinese curry mee stall in Butterworth. I do not know how old it is, but it was already an institution when Phoebs attended primary school here. Readers, meet the Bee Tin coffee shop,

Bee Tin Shop
It's pleased to meet you too.

Considering that the curry mee is largely a staple of school canteens and (I’m assuming) prisons, I do not have a high benchmark to compare Bee Tin’s to but as a dish, it’s a good one. The standard small bowl contains your choice of either mee, meehoon or koay teow, a bit of squid, a good helping of tofu and zhu hong (pig’s blood cake), bean sprouts and more si ham (cockles) than necessary, all awash in a bowl of steaming curry broth. It must be noted here that any amount of si ham is more than necessary for me, but if you like the damn molluscs, you’re in for one hell of a treat here. Also, they serve it with a spoonful of red hot sambal separately so some assembly is required,

Kari Mee
Instructions: (1) Mix (2) Eat.

This is also the first time I have ever encountered zhu hong (literally, “pig red”, sometimes called red tofu), and I cannot overstate how surprised I am that it’s not at all as disgusting as I’ve imagined it to be. In fact, it’s not disgusting at all. I expected it to have that edgy metallic tang which blood has but it’s actually quite nice – savoury, faintly sweet and softer than some people’s brains. Now, if only I can stop that voice at the back of my head from screaming "I AM EATING CONGEALED PIG’S BLOOD, EWW EWW EWW!" every time I chew on one. It’s probably the most non-halal food in existence.

Curry Mee
Here's how it looks like all messed up.

The best two things this place has going for me is its price and locus. The small bowlful goes for RM 2.50 only, and it’s a 5 minutes brisk walk from Phoeb’s place. And even for someone who has never been to Butterworth, it’s a cinch to locate. Just drive along Jalan Chain Ferry (the one beside the ferry jetty, bus station and train station) from either direction till it junctions Jalan Assumption; it’s in the southwest corner of the crossroad. The coordinates according to Google Earth are 5°23'55.99"N, 100°22'27.89"E.

Bee Tin
It looks like this on the outside.

It’s great that they start operating from 8:00 am so one can start the day with some curry fuel in the engine. More places should be so considerate. I think they pack up for the day between 11:00 am and noon after they are sold out but don’t take my word for it, okay?

There’s this German restaurant I want to write about next week, after I visit it a second time. If you’re looking for some great Deutschland eats on Penang Island, stay tuned.

Update: I've gone and reviewed said German restaurant as promised. HERE it is.

Currying flavours,
k0k s3n w4i


nis said...

r u there for clinical posting or food hunting? haha...

Jen said...

the zhu hong looks like little cubes of liver trying to blend in with its surroundings. that's kinda how i'd imagine it to taste like too.

J2Kfm said...

Seriously, i was having the exact same thoughts as you, thinking that biting into a piece of coagulated blood would mean yucky blood spurting around in the mouth.
But first time I had them (in a porridge, not with curry mee), I was pleasantly surprised they resembled jelly more than anything. :)

And I was hooked. Burp.

k0k s3n w4i said...

nis: clinical posting? what's that? is it delicious?

Jen: i'll bring some back for you. just say the word :P

J2Kfm: i won't go as far as to say i'm hooked, but i don't really mind them at all. funny thing to find in porridge tho'