"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,
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,
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.
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.
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.
k0k s3n w4i