I was in Penang. It is not the Pearl of the Orient. It is known to me as Place Of Makan. Since small, I've always been brought to Gurney Drive by my parents whenever we go to Penang. Dad was formerly working part time as a account clerk with the race course. Penang is huge for this.
I remember a lot of places for good food, but when put me there alone, i am as lost as anything.
Thank goodness for GPS.
The two days i was in Penang, i tried to savour selectively what i wanted to eat. So, in goes Penang Lam Mee - which was a-ok compared to the KL version. Then the Curry Laksa - but i prefer the Nyonya type which is thick and milky. I skipped Gurney, as it has officially lost it's charms, and only tourists goes there. The best of Penang, i believe, is to eat at where the local eat.
"so how? Seafood Porridge at Bayan Lepas or Line Clear?", I asked wifey over the phone.
"You are asking the obvious, you can have seafood porridge anywhere but there is ONLY one Line Clear", she said and i could almost see her roll her eyes through the phone.
So, at 8pm, myself and an ex-colleague helping out with a site work went to Georgetown hunting for Line Clear.
I've been only once to this place. Back when i was still playing Rugby and it was introduced to us by the then Manager (OP Nordin Manan). Back then - i think about 7 years ago, minimum, the place was a backlane. Dark with rats and cockroaches running about. You eat at a long table and share spot with strangers - all sweaty and sticky. But no one cared, as the whole purpose is to savour those Nasi Kandar that has stayed true since 1930.
And by the way, there is ONLY one Line Clear. You have many Kayu Nasi Kandar (waaaayyy overrated and overly priced) and you have many Kluang Station (lost count ain't it?) but there is ONLY one Line Clear. Are we clear of that?
OK. No point for me to show a map where this place is. Best i describe it.
Drive along Jelutong Highway towards Georgetown. Go straight past 3 traffic light until the last one before Weld Quay/Ferry terminal (Pengkalan Weld). Turn left and you are on Lebuh Chulia. Go until the end of the road, passing all and everything on your left and right. Don't be overly tempted to stop midway as you see a lot of chinese hawkers peddling their food by the road side. Go straight, don't be influenced, save the tummy for the real thing.
Now, at the end of the road, it will either turn left, or right. landmark at this spot is Odean Cinema. If you turn right, which you are NOT supposed to, you will head towards Cititel and pass by Soho Free House and towards the junction of Slippery Senorita. I repeat, This is not the place. Avoid turning right at all cost. You are that near already.
OK, at the T-Junction (which is fork-like), turn left. You are now on Penang Road. Immediately after turning right, 10m from the junction, LOOK LEFT. Line Clear is right at the small alley on your left. You will miss it if you don't look.
If you can't find any parking, don't fret. Turn left at the very first junction you see (Lebuh Campbell) and look for parking.
Park further, i promise you this will be worth it (the food i meant).
Myself and the ex-colleague parked almost 1km away and made our way to the alley.
As i walked into the alley, it was unlike how i last visited. The food was stacked on the right hand side of the alley. The chicken overflowing and i saw Briyani rice.
I immediately asked for Briyani as i continued to swallow my saliva.
"Kuah campur, banjir", i said smiling.
Hot damn it...the ladle went into every single curry i could imagine, each time flicking about a spoonful of gravy onto the hot briyani. The chicken breast was huge (ok, no pun intended) and it looked like almost quarter of a chicken. I had long bean as the vegetable, but that is NOT the highlight.
The place, at 9pm, was almost empty. I supposed the Muslims are performing the Terawih and only a handful of Penang Kia was seen eating, each with a hearty helping of heart stopping Nasi Kandar.
I sat down and admired the food served infront of me.
My fingers was trembling as i reached out for my camera. This plate served infront of me is like having some magical effect on me. I tried hard to not get overly excited...but i went on to snap like maybe 10 photos.
"It looked F***king good. I hate you". Wifey sms-ed.
I was contemplating of eating with hands, but i want to keep my hand clean in case i want to take more photo...or to irritate wifey more.
I took a full spoonful and sank my teeth into the food.
Instantly, i was brought back to circa 7 years ago. My taste bud was flooded with emotion. The mixture of rice, spices and gravy triggered an emotion i could not describe in words.
It was that good.
That freaking plate of rice, vegetable, gravy and chicken was eaten slowly, each spoonful was fully savoured. Each spoonful of bloody lip smacking tummy filling saliva dripping briyani triggered more comments from the photo i uploaded into Facebook.
If this is my life sentence and i have a choice of my last meal. This will be it.
I want no other than a plate of Line Clear.
And i felt all the sins i've committed eating the sub-standard Kayu Nasi Kandar slowly eating into me - punishing me, telling me why i've allowed myself to eat those Kayu rubbish.
And this is my confession - Line Clear is the best ever food Penang could deliver. No amount of Char Kuey Teow, Oh-chien, Lam Mee, Assam Laksa can give you this satisfaction like how Line Clear does.
I will be in Penang again in September. Period.