Are you one of those who visit a place led by your nose, stopping at nooks and joints to tuck into hawker fare you read about, recommended by friends, or just on a whim? When heading to the food haven of Penang up north, do you tick off must-haves, and then some, from char kway teow to mamak mee, otak-otak, curry laksa, oyster porridge and lobak? And before leaving for Kuala Lumpur, is there that inevitable packet of chee cheong fun in the backseat, to savour morsel by morsel for supper, together with memories of the trip?
Foodies craving authentic Penang street food no longer have to wander, or wonder where to get the best finds. Now, they can have their pick of what the island has to offer, delivered to their door, and decide if it tastes like the real thing.
Two days every week — on Wednesdays and Saturdays — iOnefood brings the original ingredients from Penang to KL. These are sourced locally, from eateries known for their delights. They are vacuum-packed fresh from the kitchen — ensuring the food stays clean and is easy to handle — and delivered free interstate, then brought straight to wherever you wish within the Klang Valley.
Alternatively, customers can pick up orders from the iOnefood hub at 31, Jalan Wawasan 4/1, Pusat Bandar Puchong, after the supply arrives at about 3.30pm on delivery days. From there, the food is taken to homes, where it is estimated to arrive between 5pm and 7pm, in good time for dinner.
The curated selection comprises a mix of popular traditional Malay, Chinese, Baba Nyonya, Indian and Thai dishes whose fame has spread from the island and across the country and — no vain boast by Penangites — around the world.
Parked under the Penang One name, what iOnefood serves up is a cornucopia of famous foods coming together from different parts of the isle. There are choices that crop up when food chat drifts to drool, from Kimberley Street Koay Chiap to Cintra Food Corner Bak Chang, Malabar Kopi, Jalan Tengah Herbal Roast Duck, Swatow Lane Ais Kacang, and Penang Botak Nasi Lemak at Gurney Paragon Mall.
The merchants on the supplier list probably reads like a “whose stall is where” guide to those who track down hawker delights by name, reputation or their longevity at a locale. Bangkok Lane Mamak Mee, almost an institution at the corner coffee shop in Pulau Tikus, comes to mind. Other names, familiar or not so, include Soon Kee Jawa Mee, Kheem Lee Muar Chee, Hoe Seng Lor Mee, Laksa Houze, Ye Ye Wan Than Mee, Granny Q Lemak Laksa and Moh Teng Pheow Nyonya Kueh.
Orders can be placed from Tuesday to Sunday, and it is easily done online. iOnefood’s customer service is commendable. We wanted the Peranakan dessert set but was told it was not available because the vendor had a family emergency. We asked for a refund — instead of having the money we’d paid credited into an account for our next order — and it was duly made. The next day, they followed up to ask if the food was okay and, specifically,if we had any trouble preparing the muar chee. For those not sure how to prep each dish, there are instructions on the iOnefood website.
There is a “reverse” service, KL One, that delivers famous foods from the capital city to Penang, which operates along the same lines. We have yet to try that, but are more interested in Ipoh One, Melaka One and Johor One, which are coming soon, according to the iOnefood website
So, how did our Penang One meal go?
The excitement of sitting down at a table laden with dishes from your hometown is diminished somewhat when you have to wrestle with plastic wraps and fi nd almost everything needs to be heated up, steamed or fried. Then again, waiting whets the appetite.With eager hands making light work, we were soon enjoying our respective orders, or picking from each other’s plates.
First, the dishes we especially liked. Phaik Hokkien Mee + Pork Ribs/skin made a nice start to our dinner. The broth was delicious and the many pieces of meat, tender. PKK Duck Meat Koay Teow Thng is as good as it gets, with strips of duck adding bite to the clear soup.
Kheem Lee Muar Chee came with separate packets of peanuts and black sesame, generous portions not drowned by sugar. Steamed, the slab of muar chee took some ‘skill’ to cut up and plate — everything got stuck together — with both toppings, but the effort was well rewarded. Macalister Lane Chee Cheong Fun, all cut and ready, was good too, making it once again a family favourite.
The Kampung Jawa Char Koay Teow, which my daughter enjoyed, was none the worse for its hours-long journey from the source to our table. Although best eaten piping hot, straight from the wok at the restaurant, this dish tasted fine after a few minutes in the microwave.
The Nyonya Quick Meal Wet Kerabu Bihun had a zing with its mix of dressing and ingredients, but there was not enough of the latter. Soon Kee Jawa Mee was rather watery and Ye Ye Wan Than Mee had little to shout about. And New Cathay Curry Mee — Roast Pork was just too salty for our liking.
Memory can play tricks but all four of us could not remember the Bangkok Lane Mee Goreng having a tinge pink, the way ours looked when laid out. It was a tad sweet, too. No complaints about the pieces of cuttlefish though.
For dessert, we ordered the Ais Kacang Chendul Set. The packaging was impressive and the servings were generous. But the santan in the cendol tasted like it came from a can.
Of course nothing beats heading to Penang and tucking into à la minute hawker fare surrounded by smells, sounds and sights. But if that is not possible and you simply gian the foods for which it is known, it is still a treat to settle for the next-best alternative. iOnefood offers the service of bringing it directly to you, on the same day.
This article first appeared on Oct 17, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.