On our first day in Penang, we dropped by the hawker stalls at Gurney Drive for some chow. It has been around since time immemorial – I think it was already there when I first visited Penang in December, 1973. It was very nice then…but sadly, times have changed.

When I last dropped by, there was this hassle over where to sit. They would not be happy if only one person orders from the stall and the rest from elsewhere…and they will quite openly show their displeasure. A friend told me to sit at a table belonging to a drinks stall as everybody would be ordering drinks from that same one and this time around, older and wiser, that was exactly what I did. My missus, however, made the mistake of pulling a stool from the next table and presto! The owner appeared instantly, making a scene.  Good grief! If we had initially intended to order from his stall, that kind of reception would definitely make us change our minds.

If the food was really good and something to die for, I guess such disgusting behaviour would be excusable but it was at best…just edible. My missus had the wantan mee

Gurney Drive wantan mee

…and the sui kow

Gurney Drive sui kow

for RM7.00. My daughter had the kway teow th’ng (RM3.00)…

Gurney Drive kwayteow th'ng

…which she liked.

I ordered the or chian (oyster omelette), RM12.00, for us to share…

Gurney Drive or chian

…and it was all egg and flour, the oysters hardly visible. The worst part was that I was the first to order – just when they were setting up the stall and when I saw the old lady serving the people at the next table who came later than us (and the hubby was still in the queue that was getting longer by the minute), I had to go and ask and get my order myself.

I also ordered this lobak (RM13.00) as well…

Gurney Drive lobak

…and it was over-fried and…as I have said earlier, at best…just edible.

The Red Garden at Penang Road (somewhere opposite Cititel Penang) is definitely a much nicerplace to go to. The people are nicer, the place is cleaner and a lot more presentable and the food is a whole lot better. It was only because we had been in Gurney Plaza the whole day and it was very convenient to drop by this miserable place and eat something before we went back to the hotel, otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered going there.

And as anyone can see, the things there are by no means cheap either. All things considered, I would definitely not be in a hurry to go back there again.