Feast awaits at End Of The Sea

MANY domestic tourists and returnees (former Penang residents) frequently revisit the island for the sole purpose of relishing its local specialties. The island cuisine covers hawker fare spread over the various roads, streets and alleyways of Georgetown and elsewhere.

Then there are those who prefer to eat by the sea, in places stretching from Teluk Kumbar and Gertak Sanggul all the way to the other side of the island, from Balik Pulau to Teluk Bahang. Through word of mouth and personal recommendation from adventurous foodies, places like Hai Boey Seafood have been enjoying large crowds during business hours.

Hai Boey is not easy to find if you are not an island resident because it nestles in one of the lonely corners of Teluk Kumbar but it’s easily reachable by car. This Pasir Belanda eatery in Mukim 9 comes so highly recommended by connoisseurs that not to experience its fine cuisine would be like going to Rome and not visiting the Basilica.

It opens from 6pm to 11pm and the large number of waitresses and kitchen helpers is a clear indication that its daily business is anything but slow. Sure enough, by 7pm, at least 10 of the total 30 tables had reserve notices on them.

Hai Boey, which faces the setting sun, has a seafront that lulls customers into instant relaxation. The rhythmic sea waves brushing its curved shoreline offer a panoramic sweep of a rarely disturbed part of Teluk Kumbar.

But locals who come to Hai Boey usually take the beautiful scenery for granted. Their sole purpose is the food. Dishes on the menu range from Phuket-style clams to claypot duck stewed with yam. Or if you prefer, there is heh kor (mantis prawns) fried with salted egg yolk. Barbecued crabs also find favour with many regular clients.

Hai Boey in Hokkien dialect means End Of The Sea. It was started by a husband and wife team four years ago. Tan Tatt Ghee, a former cook at the Chinese Recreation Club restaurant, takes care of the kitchen while his wife, Samantha Ang, is in charge of customer services.

Today, they are doing so well that a number of their regular customers are careful to call and make reservations before they show up after 7pm.

The restaurant is a simple, single-storey structure with a long and wide extendable roof that provides shelter from the sometimes scorching sun and the occasional rain.

The kitchen is well organised as evident in the trays of vegetables, seafood and other ingredients neatly laid out in rows.

Malaysians in general dislike having to wait too long for their food and an integral part of any restaurant’s fine reputation involves serving hungry customers before their patience runs out.

Non-Penangites are usually oblivious to time because they are often too engrossed in the pretty surroundings at Hai Boey Seafood, especially at sunset.

Getting There - The owners of this seaside establishment have wisely built three tree swings for the enjoyment of families who bring along their children.

The gradual setting sun with its fading fingers of light caressing the mountain landscape often mesmerises Hai Boey customers into a state of gentle euphoria.

Hai Boey Restaurant is understandably sanguine about its future because even Nature has lent a hand in transforming its surrounding landscape into a kind of Garden of Eden. The narrow, winding road leading to Hai Boey is deceptively unattractive but the vista that awaits at journey’s end is well worth the trip that takes you past villages, factories and shophouses, with fleeting glimpses of lovely stretches of the sea.

If you haven’t been to Hai Boey, do expect to pay between RM20 and RM40 per individual. The bill of course depends on what kind of seafood you’ve ordered. In its four years of business, this innocuous-looking restaurant has grown from strength to strength. There are other equally well-known seafood outlets in places like Batu Maung and Teluk Bahang but Hai Boey is holding its own in the face of keen competition and fastidious foodies.

Hai Boey Seafood’s bright future is currently assured with the large number of repeat customers. The sun may set every evening at its frontage but not on its present thriving business.

Clams or Tan (in Hokkien) are similar
to La-La but taste just as great

Claypot steamed fish is an excellent
side-dish for a party of four

Mantis prawns fried with salted egg yolk
hit the sweet spot in the tummy

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