It is easy to miss this restaurant in Penang, if you are not a local. The sign is not prominent, and it is located in a busy, most important road in Penang during the colonial time – Weld Quay, where boats arrived and departed. The main port of call in Penang island.
There is no English name for this restaurant, except a very worn out stree post banner that reads, “Thai Restaurant”. But, the local knows the name of this restaurant as “Lang Sae Lee” owned by Madam Lee.
I have always wanted to try this place during my last few visits to Penang, but never made it. This time, I have made the attempt to go there, and I was not disappointed. It is one of the best place to eat and enjoy the “old Penang” reflecting the years that gone by during the Chinese settlement in George Town, Penang.
LSL is located at the end of “Tan Jetty” off Weld Quay Road, a few hundred metres from the Penang island main ferry terminal and Rapid Penang bus terminus. On the left of Tan Jetty is the famous and most well know “Chew Jetty” and on the right is “Lee Jetty”. The historical significance of these jetties were dated back in the early nineteenth century.
The Chew Jetty is the most significance with cultural activities still being practised to this modern day. You can read more and experience the life on Chew Jetty on this blog, My Chew Jetty. I stumbled upon this blog while google search for an accurate account of the beginning of the Jetty clans. As I have not experience the life on “My Chew Jetty” please feel free to comment in this post if you like. That is, if you have done any of their packages – boat ride, food, and/or homestay.
Other photos along the Chew Jetty.
Each of the clan jetty has a street sign along Weld Quay. It is not easy to spot the sign if you are driving. The sign is not at an eye level. The only way to find the jetties is to walk along Weld Quay from the bus terminus. On one side of the terminus is a marina. If you see the marina, it means you are walking in the wrong direction. The other side of the bus terminus is where the clan jetties are located.
LSL is at the end of the wooden plank walkway at Tan Jetty. Walk towards the end. You will find the restaurant at the end of the walkway. It is a family run restaurant. A homecook meal. The women speak Thai language among themself. I believe the family lives in the same wooden stilt house. At a distant from their “floating village” is a view of Butterworth – the mainland part of Penang state, and the Chew Jetty.
Sitting in the restaurant took me back in time. It is so surreal to watch the Penang ferry plying across the channel between the mainland and island – the only form of transport until the first Penang bridge was officially opened in 1985 spaning a distance of 13.5 km. A second bridge is currently being build in Southeast of the island connecting to Batu Kawan in mainland Malaysia with a distance of 24 km. It is targeted to complete in 2012/2013.
I arrived at the restaurant quite early. They were still preparing the ingredients. It doesn’t look or feel like a restaurant. It felt more like entering the deck area of their home overlooking the channel. I had all the space and tables to choose. I selected the one with the best view.
I ordered a Thai Holy Basil Rice (MYR$5 = AUD$1.90), 2 pieces of fish cakes (at MYR$2 each or AUD$0.80) and 2 pieces of belachan fried chicken (at MYR$3 each or AUD$1). The total bill including a Chinese drink was MYR$16.40, around AUD$5.50! Where else can you eat in Australia for a full meal like that for less than $6.
This Thai food was different from other Thai food that I had in Thailand and in Australia. It is homestyle cooking – simple and subtle in flavours. Nothing too complex. But very spicy unless you ask for less chili.
I went to this restaurant knowing not to expect too much but to soak up the ambience and view. The best part is when it started to rain after I finished my lunch. The water was getting choppy with gentle waves. The rain dropped on the water created hundreds of ripples. The rain on the tin roof striking different tunes like listening to Philip Glass metamorphosis. It was the sight and sound of the rain and scent of the sea water that made this lunch very special. I could not have asked for more.