Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Celebrate Lantern Festival with Dim Sum @ Tai Tong Restaurant in Penang

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Came to the famous Tai Tong Restaurant 大東酒樓 at Lebuh Cintra in Penang for dim sum. The dim sum was tasty, with lots of varieties but the thing that struck me most was the atmosphere here during the annual lantern festival.

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When you arrive at Tai Tong Restaurant during the lantern festival you will see literally a thousand traditional lanterns above your head.

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Most of the lanterns are hand made, with hand painted thin coloured film stretched across wire frames. The motifs are traditional - like rabbits, fish, birds, butterflies etc.

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They are for sale at a nominal RM10 - RM15 each. Tai Tong's owner Mr Leong's objective is to preserve the traditional craft and lantern festival tradition for future generations. This is the 18th year, Tai Tong Restaurant is celebrating lantern festival in this way.

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Owner Mr Leong's parents and partners started Tai Tong over 60 years ago before the Second World War. The building was destroyed by bombing during the war and had to be rebuilt. Mr Leong ran Tai Tong for 20 years. He has since ventured into several other successful businesses like moon cake and noodle manufacturing but Tai Tong is still very close to his heart.

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I appreciate it that Mr Leong is also preserving the dim sum tradition at Tai Tong - dim sum is still served the old way - from rolling trolleys.

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The trolleys over loaded with stacks of steaming hot dim sum constantly circle the narrow aisles between the tables in the crowded restaurant. It's a never ending offer of hot dim sum for customers.

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With dim sum trolleys, it is not essential to know the names of the dozens of dim sum types - ordering is simplified to a matter of finger pointing 😝 at whatever catches your fancy 😋


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In another nod to tradition, chee cheong fun (Cantonese rice roll) is still hand made a la minute at Tai Tong. You can choose prawn, char siew or kosong (no fillings).


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We had endless rounds of dim sum, tea and conversations in the traditional yum cha custom of old.

Here are just some of the many dim sum that we landed on our table. They are not the exquisite dainty pricey kind at exclusive restaurants but tasty, wholesome, staple dim sum at affordable prices which whole families can indulge in regularly.

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This salted fish bun (hum yu bao 咸鱼包) is one of Tai Tong's signatures. Legend has it that Emperor Qian Long 乾隆帝 who was famous for inspecting his realm incognito got lost during one of his inspection trips. Hungry and tired, a kind farmer offered the Emperor a salted fish bun. The appreciative Emperor Qian Long enjoyed the humble bun so much that he ordered his palace chef to make it, and hence we can enjoy it to this day.

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It's a fried puffy sweetish bun, slightly crisp outside and pillowy bouncy inside. The filling is stewed pork with a bit of salted fish, so it has a savoury sweet flavour leaning slightly on the salty side. It's quite tasty and interesting. Worth a try to know what the legend is about, if you have not tasted it before.

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Tai Tong has just launched their Thunder God Bun 雷公包. It's a 600 gram bun filled with sio bak, abalone, dried scallop, egg, mushroom, char siew, salted egg yolk etc. It's called Thunder God Bun because the size and taste of the bun is supposed to shake you like thunder. It costs a grand RM38.80 to find out if it rocks you. The 600 gram bao can feed 4 persons.

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👉 If you are in Penang during the Lantern Festival 中秋節, the best place on the island to view traditional lanterns, enjoy dim sum while sipping Chinese tea is at Tai Tong Restaurant. You will like the atmosphere here.


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蘭姐 Lan Jie, one of the few remaining craftsman hand making traditional Chinese lanterns.

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Restaurant nameTai Tong Restaurant 大東酒樓
Address45, Lebuh Cintra, George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
GPS 5°25'03.9"N 100°20'00.7"E | 5.417750, 100.333525
Tel+60 4263 6625
Hours: 6:30am to 2:30pm | 6:15pm to 11:30pm

Non Halal

Date visited: 2 Sep 2017

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1 comment:

  1. Use to go there with the children when we were in Penang. Good wholesome dim sum. Will buy the lantern on leaving. Is is a Shu char place at night

    ReplyDelete

I share hoping that everyone will have a good time but your experience may differ from mine. I love to know how you enjoyed yourself or if you didn't.

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