Sponsored Post: Penang Culture

Fans of Penang food would be familiar with Penang Culture (not to be confused with Penang Street, a different restaurant owned by another group) and the variety of Penang dishes the restaurant has to offer. This year, Penang Culture is celebrating its 5th birthday with an updated menu which includes reinventions of several familiar Penang dishes. Penang Culture not only retains popular and must-have dishes such as Penang Laksa, Penang Fried Kway Teow, but also, boasts of reinvented classic Penang dishes prepared with premium ingredients in its new menu.  Being foodies with dietary requirements, Shereen and I were delighted to be invited to a tasting session at Penang Culture’s Changi Airport outlet last week, with the restaurant’s assurance that they will prepare vegetarian dishes for me.

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Top: Penang Rojak (SGD 5.95), bottom: Penang Stuffed Beancurd (SGD 4.65)

We started our dinner with appetisers and new side dishes offered on the menu. My Penang Stuffed Beancurd is done very well. The firm tofu or beancurd is fried to a light golden brown and is crispy on the outside, with the inside firm yet slightly fluffy. The beancurd used is fresh and does not have the odd raw soya bean taste that some tofus have. A little pocket is cut into the beancurd halves and fresh shredded cucumbers are stuffed into the beancurd halves to add crunch to the side dish. The satay sauce which is drizzled on the tofu is thick and creamy, and its savoury taste certainly adds a different layer of taste to the light taste of the beancurd. I found the satay sauce to resemble the consistency and taste of the satay sauce used in satay bee hoon found in hawker centres instead of the peanut sauce that comes with sticks of barbeque satays. This side dish truly whets my appetite although I would advise it to be shared among friends since firm tofu can be quite filling.

The Penang Rojak needs no introduction as it is very similar to Chinese Rojak, a popular side dish or appetiser easily found in local coffee-shops and hawker centres. What is special about this plate of rojak is the shrimp paste used to dress the mixture of fruit, vegetables, and cuttlefish – yes, cuttlefish. The shrimp paste (hae kor) is imported from Penang and even though it is not very thick, it still packs a punch. The slices of cuttlefish add a different texture to the crunchiness of fruit and vegetables. Shereen found this rojak to be very fragrant and the shrimp paste ties the various elements of the dishes together. The crushed peanut toppings added crunch and fragrance to this appetiser as well.

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Penang Fire Wings (SGD 6.55)

The Penang Fire Wings, which is a new addition to the menu, does not disappoint and Shereen is very impressed with these wings. The wings are well cooked – tender inside and crispy outside, and coated with a sweet and spicy sauce. We learn that the wings are coated with belachan before they are deep-fried, and tossed in a sweet plum and Thai chilli sauce, peppered with slivers of chilli padi and white sesame seeds before they are served. According to Shereen, these fire wings are reminiscent of the new aged Korean chicken wings with their sweet and spicy taste. Shereen had expected something even spicier ala the Kepak Kepak Bing Bing wings at Badoque but this is much milder and would cater to people with mild spice level tolerance. The sweetness in the spicy sauce which coats the wings is a nice addition to the dish as it makes it tolerable for people who cannot handle the heat. These wings would definitely go well with fluffy white rice.

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BBQ Salmon (SGD 11.95)

Shereen had the entire bbq salmon steak to herself since I had my vegetarian side-dishes to eat. Having been very used to eating this dish with stingray, Shereen found it to be an interesting take on bbq seafood. The salmon steak is cooked thoroughly with a generous slathering of sambal chilli made with ingredients such as lemongrass, onions, ginger flower, and assam (tamarind) on top, much like how sambal stingray is prepared. The sambal chilli paste is not terribly spicy such that it is not too overpowering but it has a rich belachan taste that gives it a nice smokey flavour. However, if you like your salmon cooked slightly under, you might find this to be a little overcooked for you.

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Penang Curry Fish Balls (SGD 4.95)

This Penang Curry Fish Balls bears a resemblance to curry fish balls one can find on the streets of Hong Kong. Fish balls are cooked in curry and served piping hot. As an Indian, Shereen’s concept of curry is one which is fiery hot and not so milky. The chicken curry used in this dish has more coconut milk in it and its taste is more similar to Chinese curry, or more accurately, the Penang White Curry. There is a generous amount of fish balls and potato chunks so it is a side that can be shared among friends or family members.

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Premium Crab Meat & Salted Egg Fried Kway Teow (SGD 15.95)

The use of salted egg yolk as a main ingredient has been trending recently, and this premium Crab Meat and Salted Egg Fried Kway Teow is one welcomed addition to the list of salted egg food. This new salted egg dish was something Shereen was looking forward to trying. She had no idea what to expect diving in to this dish so it took a while for her to process the taste of this premium fried kway teow. Shereen has always preferred Penang char kway teow to local char kway teow because the former uses the thinner rice noodles which she likes, and this premium Penang char kway teow certainly agrees with her. According to Shereen, the wok hei (this fragrance that comes with stir-frying in a wok over high heat) in her char kway teow is stronger than my vegetarian version, and also, hers is definitely saltier because the salted egg was smashed more thoroughly to coat the chunks of prawns, squid, fish cake and cockles cooked together with the rice noodles, all topped with chunks of fresh mud crab meat. Shereen enjoyed the Premium Crab Meat & Salted Egg Fried Kway Teow even though the saltiness is a bit overpowering for her after a while. However, there is no doubt that it is a really delicious main and it will be a real treat for lovers of salted egg.

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Vegetarian Fried Kway Teow (SGD 15.95)

This vegetarian version of the premium Salted Egg Fried Kway Teow was specially prepared for me, and I was really thankful that the staff at Penang Culture is able to create vegetarian versions of their dishes so that I get to taste these new items on their revamped menu. This vegetarian Salted Egg Fried Kway Teow is prepared with the thinner rice kway teows characteristic of Penang food, spring onion, beansprouts, and chunks of salted egg (both the whites and yolk) and spicy sambal. The dish is topped with a generous sprinkle of fried salted egg yolk bits that resemble the textual of cereal in cereal prawns but with a savoury kick. The salted egg chunks compliments the natural fragrance of the Penang kway teows and is made even more fragrant with the wok hei. Shereen tried some of my vegetarian fried kway teow and commented that the taste of salted egg is not even in every mouthful as the chunks are too big and do not coat the kway teows as much as she likes. However, I was very happy with my Vegetarian Salted Egg Fried Kway Teow since I do not like salted egg whites as much and could easily remove them from my plate.

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Premium Lobster and Scallop Noodles (SGD 16.95)

In comparison to the premium fried kway teow, this Premium Lobster and Scallop Noodles is definitely a milder dish. However, this does not mean that this noodle soup is not flavourful. The stock used is flavourful even as it remains light, and its richness comes from the prawns, crabs and chicken bones used to make the stock and the inclusion of premium ingredients like the lobster and scallops. The soup goes very well with the yellow noodles which are cooked nicely and retained a springy texture. Shereen has always preferred yellow noodles to bee hoon and this well-cooked yellow noodles soup certainly lived up to her expectations. Shereen was also impressed with how well the seafood is prepared. Lobster and scallops are easy to overcook but not at Penang Culture. The chef certainly knows his ingredients well and is able to cook them to perfection. The flavourful but light soup is definitely a relief to the palette after a slightly heavier and saltier salted egg friend kway teow.

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Pineapple Fried Rice with Honey Coated Cashew Nuts (SGD 12.95)

Once again, this is a vegetarian version of Penang Culture’s Pineapple Fried Rice with Honey Coated Cashew Nuts. What really impressed me is how attentive the kitchen staff is, paying attention to even the condiments used to prepare this dish, to ensure that the dish which is served is suitable for me. Traditionally, Pineapple Fried Rice is stir-fried with fish sauce in its condiments and since I am an ovo-lacto vegetarian, the Chef has kindly left out the fish-sauce and prepared it in the fashion of vegetarian fried rice. Much like regular vegetarian fried rice, the rice is stir-fried to a light golden yellow with eggs, beansprouts, and mixed vegetables, topped with cashew nuts. This dish too carries with it wok hei, which is a testament to how professional the chef is. However, both Shereen and I felt that the fried rice is a bit too bland and we think it might be because we ate this after eating the very delicious Premium Salted Egg Fried Kway Teow. My advice to you is to eat this before eating dishes or mains with stronger tastes so that you can taste the Fried Rice properly.

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Salmon Assam Laksa (SGD 11.95)

Admittedly, Shereen is not a fan of assam laksa because the places she has eaten at use laksa noodles or mee taimak that have been over boiled, leaving the noodles more mushy than chewy. Also, she finds that the tanginess from the assam in the broth can sometimes be very overpowering and it prevents her from enjoying the laksa. This premium version of assam laksa made with thick vermicelli imported from Penang is therefore a surprise for Shereen. According to her, the addition of a premium fish like salmon changes the flavour of the dish slightly by making it more rounded and taking away some of the tanginess from the assam. So if you are not a fan of tart and tang, then the addition of salmon would please you as the fatty fish and not to forget, the addition of hae kor provides the finishing touch which makes it more palatable while still retaining the freshness of the dish. Assam laksa is definitely not a dish that is welcomed by everyone and the addition of a non-traditional element like salmon fish may not sit well with everyone. However, this premium Salmon Assam Laksa is worth a try, especially for those who want to try assam laksa but cannot handle the original tanginess.

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Ampla Juice (SGD 7.95)

The Ampla Juice (or as some of you may know as buah long long) comes highly recommended and I ordered a glass for myself. I have had ampla juice before in a food centre and its taste did not agree with me. I found it to be diluted and the juice left an almost bitter aftertaste in my mouth. However, the ampla juice served at Penang Culture changed my opinion of this juice. Penang Culture’s Ampla Juice is flavourful and carries a hint of sweet guava taste, and most certainly refreshing. The addition of a sour plum in the juice provided a hint of saltiness which further brings out the unique taste of Ampla. Moreover, the refreshing juice helped to balance out the richness of the dishes we have tried over the course of dinner.

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Coconut Milkshake (SGD 6.95)

The menu offers a variety of milkshake such as Cempedak Milkshake and Durian Milkshake. We were told that only fresh fruit is used for the milkshakes and juices offered on the menu. This Coconut Milkshake appealed to Shereen as she is currently going through a coconut phase during which she wants to try all things coconut. The coconut taste is still strong even with the addition of fresh milk and the milkshake was not overpoweringly sweet. Shereen enjoyed her Coconut Milk Shake and even ordered it again when she went back to Penang Culture a week later. This is definitely a drink suitable for coconut lovers but note that this is a milk-based option so if you like the freshness of coconut water, this is not something for you.

Healthier Options Menu (dishes below 500 calories)

Not only does Penang Culture offer premium additions to classic Penang food, they also offer healthier options to their diners. Each of these items featured on the Healthier Options Menu is below 500 calories so that you get to enjoy great Penang food while keeping your calorie intake in check. Penang Culture assured us that the items listed in the Healthier Options Menu have been approved by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) as part of their Healthier Dining Programme.

Also, as I have experienced, the chefs at Penang Culture are very willing to make adjustments to suit their diners’ dietary needs, and this is definitely good news for fellow vegetarians who find it hard to get food at restaurants when dining with a large group of non-vegetarians. At Penang Culture, everyone gets to eat what they want and what they like. I love it when restaurants are able to concoct vegetarian versions of their signature dishes.  Now excuse me while I plan a dinner outing at Penang Culture.

Where: Changi Airport Terminal 2,

Departure/Check-in Hall Level 3
#036-087-01,
Singapore 819643
Tel: 6546 7793

Operation Hour: 10.30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
(Last order at 9.30 p.m.)

Century Square Shopping Mall #04-12
2 Tampines Central 5,
Singapore 529509
Tel: 6789 8180

Operating Hour: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
(Last order at 9.30 p.m.)

JEM Shopping Mall #04-27
50 Jurong Gateway Road
Singapore 608549
Tel: 6734 8006

Operating Hour: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
(Last order at 9.30 p.m.)

 

Halal Status: Halal Certified.

Vegetarian Options: Available. Do let the staff know your dietary requirements and they will try their best to arrange something for you.

Our Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars

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Tags: , ,

Categories: Asian, Halal, restaurant, Vegetarian options

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