Cheap & Good

Cheap & Good: Go west for yummy Penang food

Island Penang Kitchen's assam laksa ($5).
Island Penang Kitchen's assam laksa ($5).PHOTO: ISLAND PENANG KITCHEN

I have found a little Penang gem in Clementi West.

At a quiet corner under a Housing Board block next to West Coast Community Club is a bustling air-conditioned restaurant called Island Penang Kitchen, which specialises in food from the Malaysian island.

It serves everything from assam laksa and cuttlefish kangkong to rojak and lor bak or five-spice pork rolls.

The place was crowded when I first went for lunch two Sundays ago.

It was also packed when I had dinner there on a Monday night. And it is not difficult to see why business is so brisk - the food is affordable and packs quite a punch. Diners include multi-generational families, teenagers and young couples.

I like the Penang-style prawn noodles ($5, $7 with pork ribs).

For me, the broth is the highlight - a mildly spicy and robust red soup with a deep prawn flavour. The dish also comes with pieces of slippery pork skin and crispy cubes of lard.


    01-126, Block 721 Clementi West Street 2; tel: 6873-0163; open: 11am to 2.30pm, 5 to 9.30pm (weekdays), 11am to 9.30pm (weekends), closed on alternate Tuesdays. It will be closed this Tuesday

    Rating: 3/5

My only gripe is that the noodles are served with those crunchy, translucent crystal prawns, which I don't like. I think the dish would be much better with sea prawns instead.

Also worth a try is the Penang Fried Kway Teow ($6) with requisite wok hei.

But the dish I would go back again for is the assam laksa ($5).

I appreciate that the restaurant uses the same thick and plump rice noodles that are used for laksa in Penang - all the better to soak up the intense and tangy broth.

The eatery is owned and run by husband-and-wife duo James Yeong, 38, and Vivian Yoong, 37, who are from Penang.

Mr Yeong runs the kitchen. He had previously worked as a chef with the Crystal Jade restaurant group for 15 years before coming out on his own to start Island Penang Kitchen with his wife four years ago.

The restaurant moved to Clementi from its previous location in Chinatown two years ago.

Dessert lovers must save room for the chendol ($3 a bowl). The green worm-like chendol is made from scratch every morning with pure pandan extract and rice flour, and is served with shaved ice, large kidney beans, coconut milk and delicious gula melaka from Malacca.

Flavours here will hit the spot if you are craving a little bit of Penang.

•Follow Rebecca Lynne Tan on Twitter @STrebeccatan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 02, 2017, with the headline 'Go west for yummy Penang food '. Print Edition | Subscribe