Heritage on a Plate

Every Recipe has a Story

Of Ferries and Food

Food Memories, Secret FavouritesDhanen MahesComment

Hi guys! I’m back on the blog after a short (ish) hiatus. I’ve found myself enraptured by George Town ferry trips recently. Like many Penangites, my trips to and from the mainland have usually been via the Penang Bridge. Most of us consider it to be more convenient than taking the ferry across, but I’m starting to revise that opinion!

The Butterworth Ferry Terminal (now called Pangkalan Sultan Abdul Halim, or the Sultan Abdul Halim Port) has been in operation for nearly one hundred years. It started ferrying pedestrians and vehicles in the early 20th century and has dependably provided access to the working class residents of Butterworth and George Town since.

You might find the ferries here to be almost archaic compared to other places around the world. But that’s part of the charm for many of us. Although the service has been upgraded several times, many Penangites feel a nostalgic attraction to the current fleet of ferries dating back to the 1970’s. Despite the relative age of the fleet, the ferry port still provides safe and reliable transport between Penang island and Butterworth every day. Plus, the view is pretty great!

Our current fleet is going through some upgrading

Our current fleet is going through some upgrading

I made a joke about this being a passing relation-ship but no one found it amusing

I made a joke about this being a passing relation-ship but no one found it amusing

George Town afternoons can be hot, hot, hot. Many locals and tourists alike seek shelter in air-conditioned cafes or malls and I’m certainly one of them! Well, most of the time. One peculiar thing we Penangites love to do on a warm afternoon is to have hot soup.

I know, it makes little sense! But I suppose it’s something of a “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach to the heat and humidity. There are quite a few popular places that open in the afternoon (or all day) and sell different kinds of soups, porridges and spicy noodles.

One of my favourites is the beef noodles by by ST Loo. I’m not technically supposed to be eating beef for religious reasons, so don’t tell my mom. It’s hard to resist this beautifully layered soup dish, and it’s good with both noodles or rice. My preference is the latter. Here, have a look:

Not technically beef, if my mom asks 

Not technically beef, if my mom asks 

This delicious broth is sweet, savoury, salty and peppery, beautifully complemented by the flavours of toasted ginger, shallots and fried pork belly. It’s very popular with the locals because of the freshness of the ingredients and richness of the beef stock that goes into it. You can get it with just meat, or with tripe, intestine and ligaments thrown in. I recommend the latter, more adventurous choice. It adds a lot of interesting flavour and texture to the soup. Live a little!

When I’m done with lunch, I usually like to take a little wander around the city. I’m not that great a photographer, but I find myself taking snaps of the local architecture and wondering about the heritage businesses and craftsmen that might have once inhabited it. I’m quite interested to learn more about the local architecture, but we’ll leave that for another post. 

Have you been on the Penang ferry? Tried the ST Loo Beef Noodles? Let me know what you think in the comments!

"Dilapidated" is my favourite word

"Dilapidated" is my favourite word

Penang Ferry Travel 4.png