When Penangites Connie Su and her husband Tonny Leow decided to settle in Kuala Lumpur about two years ago, after spending 11 years in New Zealand, one of the first things they noticed was the dearth of good Penang food in KL.
They joined forces with executive chef C.G. Tang and so Penang Village was born in 2000. They now have three restaurants, in Desa Sri Hartamas, Taman Tun Dr. Ismail and USJ.
They serve a mixture of Penang Nyonya, Penang hawker and many other delicious things. We'd eaten in the Desa Sri Hartamas branch quite regularly, but gave up going when the parking there got so insane. So the invite to try out the TTDI branch in Lorong Rahim Kajai 13 came as a wonderful revelation. I have to admit I thought I was onto something new, but when I told one of my buddies about it, she looked at me like 'What planets are you from?' and said: "But they've been there for ages."
Be that as it may, I was very pleased to renew my acquaintance and enjoy the food and the atmosphere. It's very comfortable and casual, like an old coffeeshop with a modern flavour.
And speaking of flavour. Unlike so many of our foodcourts, the move to air-conditioned comfort and clean surroundings hasn't led to a parallel loss in taste. And you certainly won't get your fabulous Penang Curry Mee (RM6.90) in a Styrofoam bowl with those horrible fiddly disposable chopsticks and a tiny plastic spoon to eat it with.
I collect curry mee and laksa joints - I could eat them everyday - and Penang Village has been noted on the list. Aside from the mee *they very kindly gave us an extra bowl of gravy because we were hoovering it up so fast), we tried to work out way through as comprehensive a selection as possible.
We dipped into two of the set lunches, a steal at RM9.90 each, the Nyonya Set and the Baba Set. Both are served with white rice of course, but the Nyonya Set has Chicken Lorbak, Jiu-Hu Char, Mango Fish and an onion Omelette, while the Baba set has their signature Crispy tofu - egg tofu minced with vegetables and fish paste, steamed and then deep fried, smooth and creamy on the inside and crisp on the outside - Belacan Chicken Wing and Assam Gulai Fish Fillet. There are three more, but with all the other things on the menu, it might take me a while to get to them.
The dishes from the lunches are also available a la carte though, so many I'll take the gang and try them that way.
We were distracted from the lunches by the arrival of the Nyonya Fish, another house speciality. It comes in a fusion Nyonya and Thai Tom Yam sauce and I swear this is true, though quite disgusting, I had chopsticks in my right hand, with which I was attacking the Mango Chicken, while my left was busy with a spoon scooping up the Nyonya Fish gravy.
And just I thought: "No I really must stop now, I'm behaving like a glutton, our friendly, smiley waiter brought dessert - three of them, Village Raibow Ice Kacang, Durian Chendol and Mango Ice. My mate loved the chendol, but I plumped for the Mango Ice and we divided the ice kacang down the middle.
All the wonderful things we tried were so very fresh. Everything is made under the watchful eye of Tang, who ensures that only the best and freshest ingredients are used. The syrups and bits and pieces for the desserts are made fresh by Penang Village as well and some of the products, like the mixture for their home made Golden Lime juice are available in jars to take home.
And if you think that all this wonderfulness will cost you an arm and a leg, it won't. the noodle dishes, nasi lemak and things like that range from RM6.90 to RM9.90 while the dishes range from RM7.90 to RM22 for softshell crabs.
Until December 4, the TTDI branch is having a special Bulan Ramadhan buffet, from 7.30pm till 9.30pm with over 30 dishes for only RM18. The night we were there I spied Crab Curry and prawns and I really wished it was two hours before so I could start all over again.