“Pasar Malam” means night market. “Pasar” is a Malay word which means “market”, and “malam” means “night”. I went to the Wednesday night market at Pantai Jerjak near Queensbay area. It is a weekly Wednesday market, selling anything from fresh produce of vegetables, meat, fish and fruits to local favourite hawker style food and snacks. This market is a Malay market which is popular with the locals. The stalls rotate weekly to other suburbs in outskirt George Town.
There is another pasar malam, well known to the tourists and locals alike, located at Batu Ferringhi. This “nightly” pasar malam at Batu Ferringhi is a different kind of market. I am not sure how many stalls. But, my guesss is close to 50 stalls, stretching less than 1 km along the famous Batu Ferringhi Road. The stalls sells mostly souveniours, paintings and imitation goods (watch, bags, clothes). There are restaurants, cafes, bars and hotels along both sides of the road.
Back to the Wednesday pasar malam at Pantai Jerjak. It is not far from where I am staying, about 20 minutes walk. I have been there once during my last visit to Penang, but have not bought anything at that time. This time, I have decided to buy a few things and bring back to eat as my dinner.
The first stall that caught my eyes were the brightly coloured tropical fruits. My all time favourite papaya – glowing in vibrant orange colour. That means, it is riped and ready to eat. And, the banana. This variety is the best but needs to be eaten quickly while it is still firm and sweet. I bought one whole papaya and a bunch of the lovely banana for only MYR$4.20 (= AUD$1.30).
Next, I saw this stall with a huge wok full of freshly made “poh piah” (spring roll) being deep fried. This stall sells other deep fried snacks, including the poh piah fresh (non fried). The fried poh piah looked delicious and golden brown. 5 pieces for MYR$2 (= AUD$0.70). I knew I had to buy other things and that I won’t be able to stuff my face with all 5 pieces of deep fried spring rolls! The stall owners were happy to sell 3 pieces to me for MYR$1.
The next stall that caught my eyes was a stall that sells fried beehon (vermicelli noodles), fried mee (hokkien noodles), fried koay teow (flat rice noodles) and other Malay favourites. There were many other stalls that I want to try, but for one person, if I were to buy from each store I would probably end up with a mother nature call. So, I had to control myself from going mad with the food. I decided to buy a packet of fried mee. I have always bought this type of noodles from a Chinese vendor. I never knew the Malay sells them too, and had to try it. That is what I love about Penang. The diversity of the culture and food being shared between the different races. The noodles cost MYR$1.60 (= AUD$0.50).
The next stall was an Indian street snack that I have not seen or eaten since I have left Penang. It is called Putu Mayong. It is made from rice flour squeezed through a small wooden sieve with little holes at the bottom into fine strands that resemble very fine vermicelli. The strands were swivel around a few times so the strands interwoven into a small piece of flat cake like noodle, and places on a bamboo steamer to keep warm and light. It is served with fresh dessicated coconut and fine brown sugar. I paid MYR$1 (= AUD$0.30) for I think 4 pieces of flat noodle cake. The dessicated coconut and brown sugar were packed separately so I can sprinkle as much or as little as I like when I get home.
I was thinking to myself that I should stopped by now. Enough food to take home for my dinner. But, then I saw another Malay stall selling one of my hawker snack favourite. Again, I have only seen Chinese vendor selling the Penang pancake, “Ban Chang Kuih”. But, this stall Ban Chang Kuih looked so rich and good, that I had to buy half to sample when I get home. It was made from flour and egg mixture baked on a flat round pancake hot plate, and topped with peanuts, sugar and corns, or other ingredients depending on the vendor. This ban chang kuih looked thick compared to the traditional Chinese version that I had in the past which had a very thin pancake skin. It cost MYR$0.60 (= AUD$0.20).
Unfortunately, it was too tempting for me to carry all my food back which was another 20 minutes walk. I had to eat something! So I ate the ban chang kuih on my way home. Yum! It was utterly delicious – very sweet and nutty. I wished I had bought 2 pieces.
When I got home, I laid all the food that I bought on the kitchen bench. The fried mee was very good. As good as the Chinese version. But, it was also very sweet. The putu mayong was, how should I described, extremely delicate, rich and sweet. it is so different from any snack I ever had. It is a must for anyone who had never try it before. Actually, quite seductive. That is probably how I would put it. As seductive as having a chocolate. The fried spring roll was like any other deep fried stuff. Probably, my least favourite.
In total, I spent less than MYR$10. It was sheer indulgement on some of the local Penang favourites.