This may not be the prettiest pork dish you've ever seen, but I'll wager it's among the most delicious.
Teik Seng is a little outdoor spot about half a block from George Town's Campbell Street Market. It's open for lunch and dinner, just 5 1/2 hours a day, and is always absolutely packed. We walked by maybe two dozen times before finally making it here for a meal.
In the last five days we've eaten at Teik Seng three times. It's a family-run joint, and the food is simply superb, every dish made with care and not a small amount of pride. Unless you come right at opening, expect to wait for a table. Once you've ordered, expect to wait for your food. But the wait is worth it, and the food is always served with a smile.
There's lots to write about Teik Seng, and I'll do so in in good time. But this, perhaps the restaurant's 'star' dish, deserves a post all it's own.
On the menu it's 'double-cooked' pork. On the plate, it's char siew, or Chinese barbecued pork belly, sliced into matchsticks and stir-fried. A well-made Malayisan-style char siew is, in its own right, something special: smoky and fatty, laquered with a sweet (but not too sweet) sticky glaze.
Take that already smoky char siew and expose it to a seasoned hot wok and you add another layer of smoke, in the form of wok hei. The glaze caramelizes even more, sticky bits turn crunchy, and some layers of fat begin to render while others crisp. Opt for an addition of chopped cili padi (fiery small fresh green chilies) and you get spare little pinpricks of heat as counterpoint to opulent meaty sweetness.
Teik Seng's double-cooked pork is the best char siew done one better. It's bacon turned confection - Bacon Candy, essentially.
Like any sweet, it's not something to be eaten every day. No matter how much we'd like to.
Kedai Makanan Teik Seng, Carnavon Street between Chulia and Campbell, George Town, Penang. 12 noon-2:30p and 5:30-8:30p. Closed on Tuesdays.