Down memory lane about dating and bribing the girlfriend’s parents with char hor fun

A long, long time ago girls were not allowed to get out of their homes. Dating was unheard of. Then, in the 70s, the Americans came to Penang to set up factories like Litronix, Intel, Atlas, Hewlett Packard (ya, before they are known as HP), Motorola and etc. Paddy fields and villages gave way to the factories. Roads were built for factory buses. Girls living in the villages like my two older sisters suddenly became career women. (I was only 10 years old then)

Young men from other states came to Penang to work. My two brother-in-laws are from the Perak state. That’s when dating began. And how is this related to foods in Penang? Well, a lot. Before there was dating or the industrial area or development in Penang, people didn’t go out to eat.

yong pin - old painting of penang

I was eating at Yong Pin Restaurant a few days ago and I recalled the number of times when my two elder sisters brought back char hor fun and yee foo mee after they had gone out with their then-boyfriends, now husbands. It was like the law where decent, young man must deliver the fair maiden home with packets of hot, fresh char hor fun.

There is this quote until now. If someone sees another person with daughters, they will quip, ‘Ciak beh liao, oo than jiak char hor fun.’ It means that you are going to eat a lot of supper in the form of char hor fun.

I guess one doesn’t need to bribe the girlfriend’s parents with supper anymore, right? Well, at least I haven’t heard of anyone talking about eating char hor fun anymore. Nowadays, the boy will probably take the girl home and never bring her back until the next day!

char hor fun

I think one should count one self lucky if the daughter doesn’t ask money to feed the boyfriend. All these rituals of dating and pleasing the girl’s parent probably no longer exist. But Yong Pin, Kek Seng, Seng Kee, Tai Tong, Foo Heong and other old coffee shops selling the famous char hor fun still exist until today.

egg tart

The other things little sister like me get to eat when the sisters went dating were eggs tarts and this sesame and lotus paste balls.

Those were the days…

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Post Author: lilian

Used to be PenangFaces, now known as Food Haven, for all oink-oink foods

5 thoughts on “Down memory lane about dating and bribing the girlfriend’s parents with char hor fun


    (January 14, 2009 - 12:54 am)

    Aiyoh, Lilian, loo boh thang chiak sar hor fun lah! Kesian.

    Actually, nowadays who is going to buy char hor fun for girlfriend’s mom anymore. Boyfriends will say … ‘your mother is on diet lah, cannot eat supper’

    I always remember Seng Kee’s char hor fun. The takeaway was packed in a cone shaped container made with newspaper lined with banana leaves. It was tied with kiam chow, the same type used for tying bak chang. The char hor fun tasted so good especially the pig liver which was added. Sometimes we would bring our own tiffin carriers for the take away.But the one wrapped with the banana leaves taste the best.Last time where got use plastic bags.

    Do you remember the ‘ A go go char hor fun’ fella??

    Yes…. those were the days my friend ……..


    (January 14, 2009 - 1:25 am)

    momo – I keep mixing up Kek Seng with Seng Kee. I know ago-go, nay from Padang wan? Yalor, I rugi char hor fun money lor.

    Frank Catania

    (January 15, 2009 - 1:46 am)

    My wife and I both enjoyed your post about dating back in the 1970s.

    At the time, I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bentong and my future wife was a BM girl teaching in Kulim. Our courtship was mostly conducted by mail as it was a long trip for me to travel to Penang. We dated for some months before arrangements could be made for me to finally meet her family. But after after that it would have been unthinkable for us to go out to eat and not at least “tah pao” something back for her bothers and parents! Quite often it was sar hor fan. Thanks for the memories.


    (March 15, 2009 - 2:33 pm)

    Hey guys…

    you should try the Char Hor Fun off chulia street. It is located opposite of LOVE LANE but DON”T mistaken it with the one at the lorong. It is directly opposite love lane and you can see it from there. they have tables and chairs in front by the road side. CHEW KEE is the name.

    However, it is closed on TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY but at times, due to bad weather of no stocks, they will closed on THURSDAY. To play safe, II always call first. I heard many foreigners ( outstation, Singaporeans & Hong Kee ) like it. There are many locals go there ( some goes everynight too ) but they are smarther to call first @ 04-26232377

    Don’t sit directly in front of the cooking area as you will REGRET unless you plan to go for hair wash. When he fries the hor fun, you’ll see huge flames followed by smokes…

    They have Hokkein Char ( not the fat noodles ), Yee Mee, Fish Head Noodles…all yummy

    Please do not hurry them as you know or you will be scolded…Well some say they are arrogant but let’s put ourselves int their shoes…If everyone does the same, where is the meaning of “queing” We are going there because everyone says it is good..So the defination of good food also comes in with some sacrifice, your time..

    Emm think of that I will be going to Penang again for the Hor Fun…


    (May 15, 2009 - 10:57 pm)

    I eat char hor fun since the age of 5. My family use to go this restaurant yong Pin which allocated at Jalan Sungai Ujong which is at town area. There the char hor fun is delicious. You wont feel bored when eat them everyday. The dim sum serves at this restaurant is also delicious. And i ask the waitress ther, all the food is maked by themself.

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