Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Banana Pancake (Apong), Penang

From The NST

Soft and fluffy pancakes on the griddle, almost ready
The combs of pisang mas used as filling
Guan uses lots of eggs for his pancakes
HE may not be a film star or a politician but Uan Cheng Guan, 61, better known as Apong Guan, is probably one of the most well-known sons of Penang Free School.

Not only is his apong or apom stall popular with locals who can’t get enough of this pancake snack but he has also found fame through the media and is listed in travel and food guides.

Those driving along Burma Road can’t miss his green pushcart stall on the left side of this one-way street. The constant crowd around his pushcart tells a lot about his popularity.

The sprightly Guan says he has been selling the apom at the same place for almost 40 years, and that the adult customers now are probably the children who used to frequent his stall. He claims he’s among the earliest apom sellers in Penang.

Flour And Eggs

What is so special about Guan’s apom that people are willing to queue up for a taste? Made of batter comprising corn, rice flour and eggs, the pancakes come with fillings of corn and sliced banana.

Priced at only 30 sen each, the apom are snapped up as soon as they are removed from the nine-hole griddle. Soft and fluffy, even an hour after they are made, the apom literally melts in your mouth.

“My customers come from all over though most of them are locals,” says Guan. His ability to converse well in English also stands him in good stead as he tends to customers of various nationalities and races.

Phone For Apom

Some regulars call in to make phone bookings and then pick up the pancakes later. To keep track of these orders, Guan has a board with the car registration plates of regular customers! How’s that for good service?

The orders are scribbled against the car numbers and Guan keeps track with the help of a small alarm clock placed above the noticeboard.

“Things get busy from noon. I have to tell waiting customers to be patient. I can’t hurry or the apom will not be properly cooked and so will not taste good.”

Getting There

Guan operates from 9am to 9pm daily except Sundays. If you are in Burma Road, Penang, and want a bite of Guan’s apom, go early. Be there at about 11am and you won’t have to wait too long.

If you don’t know the way there, call him at 016-409 3701 for directions.

Pictures by E.S. TUNG

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