Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Secret Penang Cafe @ Taman Segar, Cheras

The secret has long been out.....that there's a cafe in Cheras serving authentic Penang food...or at least they claim to be.  When you have the word 'Penang' as part of your cafe's name, it's bound to conjure up the impression of authentic Penang food.  

So, if you're curious about Secret Penang Cafe @ Taman Segar, Cheras, then come on over to check out just how authentic the food is.

Let's start with our first order, the Penang Assam Laksa @ RM7.50 (for small, RM9.50 for big).  Unfortunately, they don't serve it with "lai fun" (thick rice noodles) which is synonymous with assam laksa.  Instead, it was bihun (rice vermicelli)...that's epic fail in my eyes already! >.<  Filled with sliced onions, cucumber, bunga kantan (torch ginger flower), minced kembong (mackerel) and topped with prawn paste and fresh mint, the assam broth had no complexity of flavour whatsoever.  This has to go down as one of the worse assam laksa I've eaten, so stay clear of this one.

As for the Penang Hokkien (or Prawn) Mee (+ Bihun) @ RM7.50 (for small, RM9.50 for big), I was pleased to see it generously filled with the prawn mee soup unlike some places where they can be quite stingy with the broth.

Digging in, I was sufficiently impressed to find a fair amount of sliced lean pork, half a hard-boiled egg, a piece of tender pork rib and a good sprinkling of fried shallots.  What I wasn't impressed with was the smallish prawns and only a few at that.  This was supposed to be prawn where were the prawns?! O_o  It was just a passable prawn mee as the prawn soup base didn't have the depth of flavour (but at least edible compared to the earlier assam laksa).

The Penang White Curry Mee (+ Bihun) @ RM7.50 (for small, RM9.50 for big) with squid, pig blood cubes, tofu puffs and smallish cockles had an enjoyable broth, slightly sweetish but a tad light.  Still, the most decent of the three soup-type noodles I tried here.

There were two dishes on the menu that had the word 'famous' attached to it and one of them was the Penang Famous Fried Kuey Teow (with Duck Egg) @ RM9.50 (for small, RM11.50 for big), so we had to order that, of course, plus the option with duck egg isn't always easily available in KL.

This turned out to be my son's favourite dish here.  When I had it another time, I got "see hum" (blood cockles) that were a bit larger in size...yay! ^.^

The noodles, fried with prawns, "lap cheong" (Chinese dried sausage), crunchy fat bean sprouts and chives, had a hint of "wok hei" and the duck egg offered a richer taste to the fried noodles.  There's also the usual version with chicken egg @ RM8.50 (for small, RM10.50 for big).

The other dish on the menu which had the word 'famous' attached to it that I just had to try was the Penang Famous Fried Rice @ RM8.50 (for small, RM10.50 for big).  The wok hei in this one was even better and, with two large prawns and lots of crispy fried shallots, the fried rice was fragrant and delicious.  Penang is not even famous for fried rice...and with all their more famous dishes here, this somehow ended up as the best thing in my books. ^o^

The Penang Fried Chee Cheong Fun @ RM8.50 (for small, RM10.50 for big) is almost similar to the fried kuey teow, fried in exactly the same way and with the exact ingredients...and by that, I mean exactly, right down to the see hum...the only exception being that chee cheong fun rolls were used instead of kuey teow.  If there's one thing I thought could be better across all three dishes would be the quality of the lap cheong as it wasn't fragrant enough.

If you want to try the Penang Shrimp Paste Chee Cheong Fun @ RM5.50 (for small, RM7 for big), don't "tapau" (pack) it home coz, to my horror, the sauces weren't packed separately but poured all over the chee cheong fun when I opened it at home! O_o  It looks like they have yet to learn the proper way to "tapau" this.

That aside, it did have a fairly good balance of flavours of salty shrimp paste, spicy sambal, crunchy fried shallots, fragrant sesame seeds and crushed peanuts (not sure why the crushed peanuts were there though)...and the rolls were soft but somehow didn't feel as thin (or translucent) as the earlier fried ones though.  The one difference (compared to some others I've had) is that this chee cheong fun is served steaming hot...and in rolls.  For this Penang-style chee cheong fun, it didn't quite match the terrific one in O & S Restaurant.

For side orders, we went with the Penang Loh Bak (Set) @ RM13.00 featuring loh bak (five-spice fried meat roll), Taiwan sausage, fried shrimp cake, cheese tofu and century eggs.

Let me clear away the shrimp cake for a better look at what's underneath.  Didn't think much of the shrimp cake and cheese tofu but the loh bak was acceptable and the century egg (with vinegared ginger) was of course a love-it or hate-it kind of thing (I'm the former).

The drinks of Nutmeg Juice (Cold) @ RM3.40, Pat Poh (or Eight Treasures) Herbal Tea with Lemon @ RM2.90 and Cold White Coffee & Cold Milk Tea @ RM3 didn't impress as both the nutmeg and "pat poh" (concoction of eight herbs) flavours were so mild, I couldn't taste anything other than the sweetness.

My Personal Opinion

I don't know what's the 'secret' in the name...but I do know that the 'Penang' part of it wasn't met in some of their offerings.  I didn't like any of their soup based noodles, like prawn mee, assam laksa or curry mee, nor their drinks.

Their fried rice, char kuey teow and chee cheong fun fared much better, so these would be the more worthwhile options here, if you ask me.

Secret Penang Cafe
34 Jalan Manis 3
Taman Segar
56100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-9134 9124


  1. ooo, at first glance, i thought the fried chee cheong fun might be a variation of chai tow kway (which i personally love). hmmm, i'd wanna try that! :D

    1. Whatever they call it...chai tow kway (in the south) or kuih kak (in the north) or more commonly referred to here as fried radish or carrot cake...I love it too! ;) But it's not easy to find really good ones here.

  2. This is the first time I heard of bihun being used for Laksa. I had to slowly recall if any place in Penang had used bihun but none! However, in Butterworth there are people who eat plain rice with laksa's broth and it tasted nice.

    Honestly, Penang may not be famous for its fried rice but there are many good stalls that often sold CKT and Fried Rice together which is very popular with the local folks. Must be their wok and ingredients in similarity. To me, it was their own homemade spicy sambal that often made the fried rice tasted delicious.

    As for the Lor Bak Platter, I think only Little Penang serves more acceptable ones though it is halal as the owners are the sisters from Penang who are teamed up with their male clans from my ex Christian boys school. Have you tried the Penang Prawn Mee at Yong Len's coffee shop at Taman Tun? Thumbs up!

    1. Yes, I'm planning to try the prawn mee at Yong Len. I did try a wantan mee you recommended (that one has a bit of a story...but that'll be for another day). Lor bak without pork is just not the same...kikiki! ;D Oh, so a Penang-style fried rice differs from our fried rice coz it comes with spicy sambal...I quite like the one here.

  3. You are right, the name "Penang" will have people rushing over but (sometimes) only to be disappointed. Aiyo, how can assam laksa be served with meehoon? Penang people will totally freak out >.< Well, at least the fried koay teow, fried CCF and fried rice were good. Pity about the drinks. I have also experienced lousy drinks at some places.

    1. Yup, assam laksa with bihun is an epic fail in my eyes...haha! :D

  4. Uh oh, they were not off to a great start right from the first dish.

    1. Yeah, how can they foul up their iconic dish....ish! >:(

  5. Bihun for Asam Laksa? That's a big NO! The CKT doesn't look appealing to me too >_<

    1. Actually, the CKT was one of the better dishes here! >.< But, then again, that's how Penang CKT always look like to me personally...not as nice as the KL ones IMHO.


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