Besides the peanut butter Chee Cheong Fun at Island Glades, another one not only famous in Penang and throughout Malaysia but even in the overseas is the pushcart Chee Cheong Fun stall outside Seow Fong Lye Cafe at Macalister Lane.
Started since 1955, it has a history of more than half a century with customers coming to take away from as far as Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. Like many other successful business owners, the husband and wife team of this Chee Cheong Fun stall had a humble beginning. Their recipe of success is continuous improvisation of their rice rolls and prawn paste through customer feedbacks.
Contrary to popular beliefs that their silky rice rolls (‘fun’) are self-made, they are in fact produced by a small factory which also caters to the Chee Cheong Fun sellers island-wide. In order to ensure their rice rolls are able to stand out among the rest, their ingredients are bought and mixed by themselves before being fed into the machine. Because of this, their rice rolls had to be specially produced last. Their unique recipe is also pivotal to the rice rolls’ silky smooth texture, a more translucent appearance and can stay fresh without being refrigerated for up to 24 hours!
A small portion of Chee Cheong Fun (2 rolls) cost RM1.70 while 3 rolls cost RM2.50 and they can be ordered in either ‘opened’ or ‘closed’ form. ‘Closed’ means the rice rolls will be served in its original form – rolled up, firm and intact.
If ordered ‘opened’ the rice rolls would have its ‘opening’ peeled off by hand then loosened into a koay teow like shape, making them easier to coat with the prawn paste. Usually, a mixture of ‘opened’ and ‘closed’ rice rolls would be given. Shown here is the wife, Madam Lim Mei Fong gently opening the rice rolls.
After a dash of sesame oil and chili sauce, a generous spoonful of prawn paste is drizzled on the rice rolls. This has to be done in mid air via a swirly motion for an even serving of the thick, gluey prawn paste (he ko).
Lastly, the Chee Cheong Fun is topped with a shake of sesame seeds for the fragrant, nutty flavor.
Take a look at the video to view the process in detail.
Like the rice rolls, the prawn paste is not self made too. What they did was simply improving the normal prawn paste that can be bought anywhere by adding their own secret ingredients and then recooking it.
As a person who doesn’t really adore Chee Cheong Fun, I find their prawn paste surprisingly acceptable for not being too sweet nor too pungent. Usually I get jelak of the prawn paste after two or three mouthfuls but I was able to finish the whole plate all by myself.
And here are some interesting stories about this Chee Cheong Fun stall. The owner (husband of Mdm Lim) actually took over this business from a friend since the age of 17. Thanks to being a perfectionist when it comes to food, he worked hard and finally got the right recipe to produce the perfect rice rolls and prawn paste that are well liked by the customers.
Initially his stall was operating in front of the current Hong Leong bank (used to be a coffee shop) along Lorong Macalister and Mdm Lim’s parents were the owner of Seow Fong Lye cafe. It was due to the close proximity of their locations that they got to know each other and eventually got married lol. It was nice to know this from Mdm Lim herself.
In the morning, this delicious Chee Cheong Fun can be found either at Seow Fong Lye cafe or Soon Yuen Cafe. They have recently opened a night one as well at Bee Lin coffee shop (美园咖啡店) next to Lam Wah Ee Hospital near Batu Lanchang.
Chee Cheong Fun (since 1955)
Seow Fong Lye Cafe – Mdm Lim Mei Fong (012-4575238)
94C, Macalister Lane, 10400 Penang
7:30am to 12:30pm. Closed when coffee shop is closed.
GPS Coordinates: N5 25.022 E100 19.741
Soon Yuen Cafe – Lih Yen (016-4741366)
27, Kuala Kangsar Road, Penang
GPS Coordinates: N5 25.058 E100 19.939
B Garden Cafe (night only)
GPS Coordinates: N5 23.549 E100 18.390