More than 60 years old & still going strong, Sin Kheang Aun is the go-to place for home-cooked Penang-style Chinese-Nyonya food rendered by Hainanese chefs. The old-fashioned, non-air-conditioned restaurant is extremely popular amongst local Penangites and is usually packed to the brim at each meal-time - try & book ahead, or else arrive early (e.g. around 11.30am for lunch or 5.30pm for dinner). Be prepared to wait.
What we had today:
- Stir-fried shredded jicama with pork & prawns, topped with crisp-brown shallots & served with fresh Chinese lettuce leaves. The dish wasn't as tasty as I'd expected - Sin Kheng Aun's version eschewed the dried julienned cuttlefish which many Nyonya restaurants in Penang used;
- "Lorbak": deep-fried meat-rolls flavored with 5-spice. These were nice but in Penang where good "lor-bak" abound, SinKheng Aun's version did not really stand out;
- "Gulai asam tumis" with black pomfret - this is Sin Kheng Aun's house speciality & clim to fame: the spicy-sour concoction scented with torch-ginger. It was good , though not the best I'd had. Okra (lady fingers) were missing, and the smell of belachan (shrimp paste) & chilli paste was not as strong as I'd had liked;
- Caramelised fried chicken with dark soysauce - very simple dish, but my fave item for this meal. Sin Kheng Aun is actually famous for the version where pig's liver instead of chicken is used;
- "Kiam chye ark" - the duck-and-pickled mustard soup which Malaccan/Singaporean-Nyonyas call "Itik Tim". The version here was light & quite tasty, tilting more towards the Chinese way of preparation than the Penang-Nyonya one which also incorporates lemongrass & galangal.
All in all, a pretty average meal for me - the reason for Sin Kheang Aun's popularity amongst Penang's Chinese populace is pretty elusive to me. The charm of the old coffeeshop setting is understandable, but none of their dishes stood out really.
Sin Kheang Aun
2 Lorong Chulia