Hainanese Lor Mee at Goddess of Mercy Temple, Penang
Find out why local Penangites love a solid breakfast of gooey Hainanese Lor Mee near the Goddess of Mercy Temple (Guan Yin Teng). This carb laden delicious meal is the iconic pit stop for worshippers at the Taoist temple in Penang.
GUAN YIN TENG HAINAN LOR MEE
I feel strangely hungrier in the vicinity of Hai Beng Coffee Shop. Hai Beng Coffee Shop is known locally as Guan Yin Teng Lor Mee. The corner coffee shop is situated beside the 200-year old Goddess of Mercy Temple at Pitt Street, Penang.
This coffee shop started the business in 1957.
“Korcha Bi” or classic taste of food is a cherished institution by the senior Penangites. Most will pooh-pooh new street food stalls and not even bother trying any other expect for the original shop.
For some families, it’s the third generation chefs cooking the same authentic Hainanese Lor Mee recipes and serving third generation customers.
HOW TO ORDER FOOD LIKE A LOCAL
The locals seem to know the shop owners by name. You may be perplexed to hear shop owners and customers greet each other as “Boss” in English or even Hokkien or Mandrian.
The ensuing conversation may go something like this.
A customer walks in and hold ups 2 fingers and say, “Boss, big one ah.” This means 2 big bowls.
The hawker may nod, or even reply, “Ok Boss.”
This is an endearing Penang trait.
WHAT IS HAINANESE LOR MEE?
Hainanese Lor Mee is a noodle dish made with thick flat yellow noodles and served with deep dark, rich, soy scented thick starchy gravy. It looks dark and gooey and not very appetizing to first-timers.
The fragrance of fried shallots fills the entire shop of the famous Lor Mee stall. You either love it or hate it!
Some customers prefer rice vermicelli instead of the yellow noodles. Others may opt for a mix of both.
I love the taste of the thick gravy which is made with cornstarch, spices and thin streams or ribbons of egg whites. For flavoring, the gravy has a heady fragrant mix of Penang special five-fragrant spices (ngo hiang).
The dish is heavy and pungent with lashing of lard oil, chili paste, vinegared garlic to taste. The ingredients for topping are braised pork bacon, pork slices, braised ducks eggs, pig’s intestines and even braised pork skin!
ULTIMATE PIT STOP FOR WORSHIPPERS
This is a ritual for most worshippers who pray at the Goddess of Mercy Temple. The devotees will drop in to have a bowl of Lor Mee noodle with a cup of kopi O.
WHAT I LIKE TO EAT
For my brunch, I like my Lor Mee with just yellow noodle, lots of Bean Sprout (Taugeh) and two braised ducks’ egg with sliced lean braised pork. I like extra gravy, lots of fresh vinegared garlic and a splash of homemade chili sauce.
My family will order Lor Mee with extra chewy Pork Skin and other choice ingredients and pay a bit more for additional ingredients. The best toppings are the juicy Lard Crackling (Bak Ewe Pok).
I will have a hot kopi C with my meal. There is a selection of fruit juice and local drinks to try. There’s Nutmeg drink, Pat Poh drink (eight treasures herbal tea), and Keat Poh drink (honey lime).
In the Lor Mee Shop, a strange phenomenon happens when all is well and eating, slurping away.
No one talks much. Perhaps it’s to prevent that wonderful, flavourful gravy from spilling over lips and chins and dripping over table tops and handbags.
Or possibly it’s just too delicious to waste time nattering when in the throes of pleasure.
Hai Beng Coffee Shop | 32, Lebuh Pitt, Penang
Opening hours: 7 am to 5 pm daily