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Hot Wok, Penang

3-H Jalan Pantai Molek
Tanjong Tokong
Tel: 60 4 890 7858's insider take:

Culinary pilgrims visiting Penang should ignore this café's generic name and venture along the beach road toward Batu Feringgi to sample its authentic Nyonya cuisine. The interior of this quaintly crumbling bungalow is a delightful kitsch museum, a jumble of family relics such as wedding portraits, and an old sewing machine. It's strictly a family affair: The present owner's grandmother was kidnapped in Sumatra when she was a girl and brought to Penang, where she was adopted by a wealthy family and taught how to cook Nyonya in the family kitchen. Penang Nyonya is a bit closer to Thai than its sister cuisine in Malacca, with fiery chiles much in evidence here (the kitchen will tone it down on request). Gulai tumis fish is a delicious, complex preparation of pomfret fillets in a tamarind-based sambal (chile sauce), with okra, ginger flowers, and mint leaves. For dessert, try sago gula Melaka, divine pearls of tapiocalike sago palm in silky coconut milk, sweetened with red palm sugar. The staff is warm, friendly, and happy to explain the dishes.

Open daily 11 am to 3 pm and 6 to 10 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.