Penang Squat Style Teowchew Porridge at Magazine Road
For more than 50 years, this Penang Squat Style Teowchew Porridge at Magazine Road opposite 1st Avenue Mall has fed generations of workers living around the city center.
I stood looking out of the foyer of the cool and chic The Wembley – A St Giles Hotel, Penang.
Saturday afternoon traffic and the rising humidity. Iron horses abound in George Town, Penang. They weave in and out of the near standstill at the traffic lights.
I squint at the glare of noonday sun beating down. It is getting hot with the Chinese New Year reunion dinner tomorrow evening.
I ventured out gingerly picking my way through the traffic. A minute’s walk towards the traffic and to the right of my hotel was a battalion of iron horses parked haphazardly by the roadside.
Sixty-year-old Bee Hong “Kopitiam”, one Penang’s last bastion of Coffee Shops stands ramshackle but charming, open without any wall or doors, the same level as the road when one could literally ride a motorcycle in when the table and chairs stacked aside.
Economy Rice or Porridge
A living heritage, the Teochew style porridge stall has fed generations of workers and families living around the city center for more than half a century.
It is still cooked in a tiny makeshift kitchen but provides a great variety of cheap eats, popular with the Penang working class. Food is cooked in huge cauldrons and is plentiful.
Served out in the open and uncovered; the dishes are unpretentious and simple. Just basic food. No grading for stars necessary here.
A little on the salty side, these are served in small plates when you order.
How to seat yourself by squatting on the bench to eat?
Up close you will see the sea of iron horses parked by the patrons outside the Kopitiam and pedestrians weaving their way through the chaos.
Patrons are often seen seated “squatting” while slurping down bowls of hot porridge with small plates of “salty” dishes.
This is the Asian Squat
One of the most peculiar sitting positions is on a low, small stool (sometimes double stools, one placed on top of another) and are placed on top of a long bench.
You sit on the stool and draw your legs in until you appear to be squatting.
The position looks a lot like what the western world calls the “Asian Squat”.
Most long-legged Caucasians are not able to achieve this squat.
They just tumble over!
Laborers and trishaw riders of yesteryear seem to prefer this position when they eat.
The man standing up on the bench had just climbed up and is hiking up and adjusting his trousers to squat on the little stool placed on the bench.
He is ordering his food as he stands and points to what he wants to eat.
The dishes he ordered is passed over the trays of food sold and he gets to chow down whilst squatting on the small stool.
There are two stalls of “squatty porridge” both with loyal customers.
This “squatting porridge stall” is located at Bee Hong coffee shop along Magazine Road, opposite 1st Avenue Mall. It opens from 10.30 am to 5 pm from Thursday to Sunday.
What if you can’t squat?
Don’t worry if you’re Caucasian and have problem squatting like me.
You could order the dishes and sit at the tables nearby to eat. Same food, different style. Just another way of eating.
I seriously don’t think I could ever balance myself squatting to eat, so I opted to dine at the tables and chairs for those who prefer the modern way.
I ordered a simple economy rice meal with steamed pork, curry vegetable, and fried mustard green.
Plan Your Trip For a Squatty Food Experience!