Balik Pulau is a relaxing drive for us as it takes us tthrough lush greenery, wooden kampung houses fringed with tall coconut trees and it's nice for us to be able to point out to Bubs this was how most of Penang was like decades ago before it slowly transformed into a concrete jungle. This is durian month so the traffic there was crazier than it usually is with makeshift durian stalls popping up at the sides and the suvsequent traffic jams.
We headed to Balik Kampung, an eatery that dishes out the famous hokkien mee and assam laksa that used to operate from someone's house over the weekends.
It was jam packed during lunch time and we were lucky enough to get a table. There are 3 separate vendors that operate here: hokkien mee & assam laksa (only available on weekends), a rice dish stall that serves up belacan fried rice and a drinks stall. Waiting time is minimal even though there were hordes of hungry diners and ceiling fans ensure a nice, steady breeze. There weren't any mosquitoes during the this time though I can foresee there I'd be a mossie buffet here come evening time.
Assam laksa amidst some prettily served drinks. Bub's choice was the butterfly pea flower and barley and he got a kick out of stirring the drink to get the blue mixed into the glass: "Look, it's indigo now!" We also tried the shanzha (hawthorn) and fresh nutmeg drinks, all iced to provide a respite in this humidity.
The assam laksa was pleasant and filled with noodles that had the thick, homemade consistency which is getting harder to find these days. The broth was mildly spicy, sour and topped with hefty chunks of fish and julienned fresh veggies.
The hokkien mee was decent though it wasn't as heavily spiced as we would have liked. The portion was decent and pouring in the chilli paste is a must to add some kick to the soup.
Luckily Balik Kampung offers a non spicy dish so we didn't have to pack lunch for Bubs. Hubs had his leftovers and enjoyed the fragrant belacan fried rice that had little sides of fresh mango strips, diced egg omelette, crispy anchovies, pork slices, fresh onions, a small wedge of lime and the most amazing sambal that made this dish a winner.
Balik Kampung has a wide, spacious, kampung-like compound at the back where children can enjoy mini (though paid) activities like riding a bike, paddling a boat and catching fish.
The boat ride was in a giant, concrete pond shaded with some netting so it's still enjoyable under the hot sun. Shoes must be removed before being allowed in the plastic, hand propelled boats.
Ok, I admit that it felt a bit like animal cruelty to me but Bubs begged so hard that Hubs gave in. You pay RM1 to rent a net for 20 minutes so you can catch some fish in a small man-made pond. You have to let the fish go so basically, you're paying for the fun of trying to catch the fish in the net before releasing them. We spotted a couple of dead fish floating at the side ...
Bubs had so much fun! He was running along the sides, trying to swoop the fish in his billowy net but ended up scaring most of them away. Hubs had to show him that fishing was all about patience. Do note that there are mosquitoes at the back garden so if you intend to hang around here for a while, it's best to apply some repellent.
Opening hours: 10:30am – 5:10pm (Weekends only)
Phone: 013-323 7777
Address: 278 MK D, Kuala Jalan Baharu, 11000 Balik Pulau, Pulau Pinang
If you're using Waze to go, just search for "Balik Kampung, Balik Pulau".