No Reservation Taken - Just get there and line up like everyone else.
The ‘chhhhhh’ of pungent curry paste hitting a red hot wok competes with ‘hhuuuuuuuu’ of the shaved-ice machine and the bubbly rumble of tofu and lo-bak deep frying in oil – the scents are always the same yet discernable to the knowing nose – yes, you have ventured into Penang Coffee House in Hawthorne.
A while ago PCH was perched in the enviable location of right next to Swinburn University and the train station, now they are a few blocks up the road – all the locals and regulars know where to find the new abode, but if you haven’t been before it’s all the same to you. The service and the food are the same as before, which is the important thing. I was in love with the old place because it was cramped, noisy, hot, busy and in a never before seen colour of green. New place is sparkly, white and roomy.
Okay, on to the important thing – FOOD. Your menu arrives – a green laminated (a good idea for pesky liquids and food stains) outline of what’s on offer – the food is obviously Malaysian but don’t be mistaken in thinking it’s your average Malaysian fare – it’s not. It’s geared towards the Hawker Food Stalls in South East Asia, where the aforementioned lo-bak sits with the curried chicken drumetts, satay skewers and fish cakes.
Noodle dishes like Char Kwai Teow packed full of pink-edged slices of roast pork, translucent prawns and crisp crunchy beanshoots stun the diner into blissful sounds of ‘mmmm’ and ‘ohhhhh’. The king of soups here at PCH is the laksa lemak – the most satisfying bowl of rich, coconut broth redolent with fresh herbs, curry paste and the unmistakable scent of fish sauce. Thick, soft egg noodles tangle with thin slippery ones ensnaring shreds of poached chicken and pork, beanshoots add texture to go with the deep fried slices of tofu which soak up as much of the yummy goodness of the soup.
If soup isn’t your thing then you can’t go past beef rendang coupled with a perfectly golden roti which comes hot and crunchy waiting to be broken off into bits and dunked into the pungent dark meaty goodness of the curry. You might want to get a milkshake on the way home if you get the rendang, but heartburn never felt so good. Ever. Personally I love the Ayam Kapitan chicken – and would often get this to share, and by share I mean use both hands, mouth and feet if I could while wielding my chopsticks to prevent anyone else from sampling the deep-fried pieces of peanut and chilli coated chicken which comes with sweet chilli sauce. I think it’s the only think I’ve vowed to love for all eternity…that and Krispy Kreme donuts, but that’s a religion really.
There isn’t anything I wouldn’t recommend here – there are oodles of noodle dishes, vegetarians will not go hungry and even the most fanatic chilli lover will be impressed – everything is done in enviable balance, the hot, sweet, sour and salty flavors come together in a harmony that leaves one lusting for more.
P.S When you go, ask for ‘Mandy’ and tell her where you heard about the place, it’s good to name drop as you’ll get the best service and she’ll be tickled pink that she’s the best.