Penang Road Cafe @ Novena Ville

What would you do when you  have a wife who’s cooking is so darn good that you think it would be a complete waste not to open a restaurant to share her brilliant culinary skill with others? Well, you probably would just take the plunge and open one cafe for her, no?

Malaysia has definitely it’s own fair share of local specialties. For example, when you mentioned about Malacca, the chicken rice balls would come into mind. Similarly, when it comes to Penang cuisines, the word Laksa would probably strike a familiar chord as well. To be more specific, we are referring to Penang street foods here and not your fancy hotel-type of food.

Penang Road Cafe, situated along the stretch of Novena Ville is the creation of a certain Mr. Lim who opened this restaurant for his wife to share their love for Penang food with fellow Singaporeans. Actually, when it comes to Singapore and Malaysia food, we personally feel that there are certain dishes which share quite a number of similarities, such as the Laksa and the Rojak. Alright..alright..we will not attempt to go back into history trying to trace back who started what back in those days because we don’t find that matters anyway, especially when we all get to enjoy the great food at the end of the day, right? With that said, I guess that’s probably why Singaporeans are able to accept the tastes and flavors of Penang food.

Conveniently located within walking distance from Novena MRT, Penang Road Cafe is one eatery which is rather popular among office workers and residents around the vicinity. We managed to have the opportunity to drop this place a visit and try out some authentic Penang food.

Penang Assam Laksa ($6)

We consider this Penang Assam Laksa very appetizing. In fact could actually smell the fragrance coming from the assam soup base upon serving. Now, what makes assam laksa different is the distinct sour taste which comes from the lemon grass used as part of the ingredients. Other ingredients (may) include ginger, salt, sugar and belacan paste (of course, we don’t know the exact secret recipe used here..). Thick bee hoon is the choice of noodles being used here, which is the “default” kind of noodles you would find in your usual Singapore-style laksa. You will also find bits of fish meat in this dish but there’s not much of it, to be honest. Hence, we find this dish to be slightly overpriced due the lack of ingredients.

Penang Hokkien Prawn Mee ($6)

The Bee Hoon Mee combination  is the way to go for prawn noodles!

More prawns please…more prawns!

Another specialty from Penang is the Hokkien Prawn Mee. The soup base is essentially made up of prawns (tons of it, actually) but what makes the Penang Hokkien Prawn Mee distinctively different from the Singapore version is the additional chilli paste added into the soup, giving this hot bowl of noodles the extra “kick” from the already-fragrant soup base. Fishcakes served within the bowl are aplenty but we kinda wish more prawns were being being added. I mean, it’s supposed to be Prawn Mee….right?

Char Kuay Teow ($6)

Slightly wet with the wok hei flavour, generous in ingredients and extremely tasty. The Char Kuay Teow here is one of the best we’ve tried so far but definitely not for the health conscious. You will find plenty of the delicious-yet-so-guilty deep fried lard, prawns, chinese sausages and beansprouts for the extra crunch.  What else can we say about this dish except that it’s a must-try!

Penang Rojak ($5.50)

Some like it, some don’t but there are some really good stuff in this Rojak. The prawn paste used in this, in particular, is specially “imported” from Penang by Mr. Lim which explains the robust taste. The generous peanut toppings might be a tad too much for some but it really adds alot of additional crunch to the entire dish. Ingredients such as the pineapples and “bankuang” are very fresh as well. The only main difference compared to the Singapore version is the lack of the You Char Kuay (aka Deep Fried Dough) but with the overall taste so good, we hardly miss that ingredient. That said, we could use a bigger portion!

Lorbak aka Ngor Hiang ($6)

More commonly known as Ngor Hiang, we love the crispy beancurd skin wrapped around the non-fatty pork meat within the roll. We consider the Lor Bak here as a very good side kick to compliment your main dish but at $6 for two rolls we can’t help but to find the price abit too steep. The beancurd skin is crispy yet not too oily but we highly recommend that you consume the Lorbak while it’s piping hot as the beancurd skin tends to get a bit “soft” and loses it crispiness after a while.

Conclusion
The definitive place to go to if you are craving for some authentic Penang cuisine without having the need to travel across the Causeway. With no service charge or GST applicable to the bill, consider that a bonus over the already decent food and quality food. No doubt we find that the Lorbak and the Assam Laksa to be slightly overpriced, it’s still cheaper than having to travel all the way to Penang, no?

Ratings: 4.0 foodiedoos out of 5

Penang Road Cafe
275 Thomson Road
Novena Ville #01-08
Singapore 307645
Tel: 62563218

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