Tucked in an industrial zone of Paya Terubong, Penang Island. This is one of the best home cook food restaurant available in Penang. Though it may look like an ordinary tai chow restaurant, it does serve some authentic home cook foods.
Last weekend I was in Penang island to do a pre wedding job there. If you didn’t know I am part of the crew of Mobster Studio. After done with he photo shoot I went to Paya Terubong to visit Restoran Zi Zai. I came here before previously but not able to try much of the goodies here. The kitchen is helm by Hock Chai the owner cum head chef. Prior to our arrival, I made a reservation ahead on what is going to be served. If you want your dish to come out fast upon your arrival, give Hock Chai a call a buzz. The food menu is well written with English and Chinese words where language is not a barrier here. Some of my friends from KL who don’t speak Hokkien do not need to worry here. You can speak to them in English or Mandarin here.
Salted Fish Bone Soup – RM12 BIG
We were served with a bowl of piping hot and tasty tofu cook with salted fish and pork soup. A sip down awakes the appetite hunger for more. The salted fish bone is not that salty and just giving a lil bit of flavor to the bean curd which literally tasteless. Sliced pork were added to spice up the soup taste where we clear every single drip of it.
Asam Fish – RM35 (Extra big pre ordered needed)
Oh Cheow (Look like a pomfret but is black in color and cheaper) is the name where we name after this fish. It is cooked with home made asam pedas style with added tomatoes, ladies finger and plenty of onions. The sourish flavor and not too spicy taste is ideal to go with white rice. Just the curry and the rice alone I can clear a whole bowl of rice.
Fried Baby Lala
Small size lala fried with chili and sliced ginger is so good! It has been 5 years plus since I last had this. The excitement of digging in to a pile of shells and found a piece of flesh satisfy you to the max.
Fried Bean Sprout With Salted Fish – RM12 Big
Cleaned bean sprout and then stir fried with salted fish and chili is just plain simple and tasty.
Assam (Tamarind) Prawn – RM35 – MUST ORDER!
This is the super star dish of the night were we can’t hold ourselves. We ordered another big plate assam prawns to satisfy our appetite. The caramelized tamarind sauce stir fried with the prawns were so delicious that everyone of us busy sucking and biting the prawn heads. Some more the prawn heads has roe in it. To add more kick in it, we take the cucumber that came with the prawns and dunk in to the fiery hot sambal belacan (below). None of us chat as much as usual. Usually when foodies sit on a same table, all will chit chat and comment on the food. This round all kept quite and concentrate eating. This is how good the dishes is!
I miss lots of kochabi (olden days taste in Hokkien) dishes. Since I know Hock Chai can do it, I might as well place order for it. This also tells me how skillful he is inheriting the skills from his father who never attend any cooking lesson, never learn from any one and cook all this wonders and pass down to all his kids. Whole family work in the family restaurant which I will reveal in the future. The next dish that I order is the Steamed Minced Pork With Salted Fish.
Steamed Minced Pork With Salted Fish – RM15 BIG
Less Fat Minced Pork (Preferred to use 5 FAR LAM)
Chunky salted fish and lots of ginger shreds
Chili to garnish and add a slight hot taste which hardly noticeable
Top grade soy sauce
1/4 tsp sugar
Place pork on a stainless steel plate and add some water which enough to cover the pork.
I use a normal WOK with 2 chopstick at the bottom. Fill it up with water and steam them if you don’t have a proper steamer.
If you got those restaurant type of high pressure steamer, you just need 5 minutes otherwise 20 minutes min.
Sprinkle some chopped spring onions for garnishing if you like.
Zi Zai Famous Poon Choi Pork – RM26
At first when Hock Chai intro this to me, I was kinda skeptical to go for it. But I love my pork so much. Don’t care. ON! Turn out it was so nice and good to go with a bowl of white rice. Same goes for the black pork below.
Black Soya Sauce Pork – RM12 Big
Fried Belacan Chicken – RM27 Big
This can’t go wrong in Penang. But the batter used here are slightly thicker hence every bite carries a strong belacan marination flavour. Lips smacking baby!
All of us eating more than what we normally had back in KL. Appetite gone wild and we order another one but I wanna try something that chef have confident on it. So he present to us the fried sambal egg prawn.
I don’t know the price for this but it is something out of ordinary which invented by his apprentice. It was fried with the dried shrimp and chili paste. Finely chopped bunga kantan were added upon serving. Another great dish to go with rice.
If you are having a celebration or wanna impress your mother in law, bring them to try the Poon Choi here. It is reasonably priced and I can tell you customer’s always return for this even on a normal day. All you need to do is just call them up and say you want a poon choi. Done! Hock Chai take care the rest. If you have a lil bit more Moo Lah, you can get additional ingredients on it too. If I were to order this, I want a whole piglet having its sun tan on top.
Just look at the people going for the poon choi. It brings the family together.
CLICK on the photo if you can’t read. You will get a big menu on your screen. So you can start pick up your phone and give Hock Chai a ring to book your table anytime be it lunch or dinner. If you order the dish just the same way I do, you can never go wrong.
Name: ZI ZAI RESTAURANT (自在飯店)
Address: 1239-G, Ground Floor, Jalan Paya Terubong, 11600 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 604-826 5173 (Mr. Tan Hock Chai)
Business Hours: Lunch and Dinner. Close at 10.30pm (Closed Tuesday)
GPS: 5.387212, 100.274013
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