PETALING JAYA: After overcoming two issues threatening its operations earlier this year, Penang’s famous Line Clear Nasi Kandar Restaurant got some respite recently with the news it was ranked ninth best in the World Street Food Masters list.
The popular stall, a landmark for many decades off Penang Road in George Town, made it into the list which was announced by the World Street Food Congress (WSFW), at an event held in Manila, Philippines last week.
“Arguably the most famous Nasi Kandar stall in Malaysia. They occupy a side lane, not even a stall, with their selection of masala fried chicken, fish head curry, lamb, sambal prawns, eggs, spicy greens, etc, all lined up along the wall in stainless steel pans, you just devour them with rice.
“Turnover is very high and they are very loud and friendly, as are their customers,” the WSFW said in describing the 24-hour restaurant in its ranking.
In February this year, the restaurant was closed for almost a week as a long-standing family dispute over the rights to operate the restaurant was finally resolved in court.
Then on March 13, a surprise inspection by the state health department forced its closure, with the operators doing a rigorous clean-up and getting the green light to reopen just four days later.
Another Penang delight which made it into the top 50 was the Siam Road Char Koay Teow. The owner of the stall, Tan Chooi Hong, 76, is both famous for his tasty koay teow, as he is for his lack of tact with some customers.
With the long lines of people waiting to buy his food, he has been known to brush off some customers when asked about waiting times, among other things.
But being ranked 14 in the World Street Food Masters list may give Tan some justification for having people be patient and just wait to be served no matter how long it takes, more so as he uses charcoal to cook the fried char koay teow.
“The classic travelling food cart on four wheels. He cooks it over a charcoal fired wok and the smoky smooth appeal, is the reason for the lines wherever he drags his char koay teow cart to,” WSFW said in describing Tan’s food.
Four more stalls from Malaysia also made the list, namely Fauzi Nasi Kerabu, Terengganu (rank 23), Donald & Lily Nyonya Mee Siam, Melaka (34), Guan Heong Biscuit Shop, Ipoh (36), and Jalan Kuli Satay, Melaka (43).
The World Street Food Masters list put together by a panel of widely travelled commentators, writers, food celebrities and professionals, have a third eye, nose, ear and peculiar palates for heritage street food culture.
They ranked Singapore’s Hill Street Tai Wah Bak Chor Mee as number one, with Franklin’s BBQ in the United States and Thailand’s Che Paek Pu Ob Voon Sen (baked crab with glass noodles), ranked second and third, respectively.
According to the congress’ official website, the hawkers were evaluated according to the grade of ingredients, food preparation, hygiene level, adaptability, consistency and confidence, as well as the quality and flavour of their food.