Home Food ReviewsCuisineChinese Restoran Zi Zai at Paya Terubong, Penang


Zi Zai Restaurant in Paya Terubong is known for its Poon Choi and tai chow (big fry) dishes. While I have yet to try the Poon Choi, I was told it was quite good and reasonably priced. That evening, I was introduced to Hock Chai, the owner of Zi Zai Restaurant and he dished out some of his specialty dishes for us.


Assam Prawns

Assam Prawn is a popular Nyonya dish and is predominantly sweet and tangy. Cooking style differs between cooks, but Hock Chai’s version sat well with me. The gravy boasted a nice balance of sweet, sour and savoury, and coated the prawns well. The prawns could have been fresher, but I’m just particular as the other diners found it acceptable.



Belacan Chicken Wings

Belacan Chicken Wings were crisply fried and fragrant from the fermented dried shrimp. You either love belacan or you don’t. I remember cooking belacan fried rice in the UK and my flatmate thought something died in the kitchen. Suffice to say, I didn’t give her any belacan when she came down for my wedding.


The chicken wings made a lovely snack, but I would have preferred a bit more belacan presence.


Fried Sambal La La

We also had the Fried Sambal La La which packed quite a punch. The small clams were fresh and lightly chewy. I liked the addition of ginger in the gravy as it helped offset the briny flavour of the clams.


Assam Fish

The Assam Fish was not as spicy as it looked, and fragrant from the chopped bunga kantan garnish. Again, I would have preferred it to be spicier. More oomph. Will definitely let Hock Chai know when I visit his restaurant next.


Fried Lettuce with Fermented Beancurd

Simple or not, the Fried Lettuce with Fermented Beancurd was good stuff. I love beancurd and can eat two cubes of it with plain rice. Most places are stingy with the beancurd, but Zi Zai was pretty generous with the amount.

On a whole, I enjoyed the food at Zi Zai Restaurant. I wouldn’t say it’s the best tai chow I’ve had, but I like how simple and hearty the dishes are. That’s what good Chinese cooking is all about, don’t you think?


The bill came up to slightly over RM100 for the above. Pretty reasonable, I feel. While the portion about would usually feed 4-5 pax, there were 6 of us that evening. I was too full to eat more as I had two bowls of asam laksa an hour before dinner.

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Ambiance: 5.5/10
Price: 6.5/10
Food: 6.5/10 (non halal)
Verdict: Pretty good tai chow dishes and reasonable prices.


Restoran Zi Zai
1239-G Ground Floor,
Jalan Paya Terubong
11060 Air Itam, Penang.
Tel: 04-8265713
Business Hours: 5pm to 10.30pm
Closed Tuesday

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Sean February 5, 2013 - 12:51 pm

i’m really crossing my fingers that i’ll be able to get some reasonably priced poon choi for chinese new year (without having to travel to penang, heh). anyways, the chicken here looks very nice indeed :D

Bangsar Babe February 5, 2013 - 4:50 pm

He’s a good cook, that Hock Chai fella! ;)

Hock Chai February 5, 2013 - 6:50 pm

Thank you , I will learn more to keep improve myself , Ulala

email2me February 5, 2013 - 4:47 pm

Lips smacking on the assam prawns baby! Slurp …… Will go one round this weekend. Miss it already.

Bangsar Babe February 5, 2013 - 4:50 pm

Open meh?? CNY wor…they don’t need to celebrate ah?

Hock Chai February 5, 2013 - 6:52 pm

We will close on 9th Feb 2013 for Poon Choi Take Away Special order, and will will resume our business on 13th Feb 2013 ( Chor4), thank you

Pureglutton February 6, 2013 - 9:40 am

Loved the baby lalas… but wished they were bigger, haha! Bigger but must be the same specie which I doubt exist :P

Bangsar Babe February 6, 2013 - 3:14 pm

Hahaha…I think bigger clams might not be as nice. ;)

Hock Chai February 7, 2013 - 1:08 am

Yes , it does exist , I saw one or two months when it in season, probably April n may , yellow shells is sweeter n pulpier , larger in size and thinner shells.

Hock Chai February 7, 2013 - 1:09 am

Yes , it does exist , I saw one or two months when it in season, probably April n may , yellow shells is sweeter n pulpier , larger in size and thinner shells.

Lilian Ng February 11, 2013 - 10:49 am

We LIKE POON CHOI its nice Thank You Hock Chai

Wishing You Happy Ulala 2013 Chinese New Year and Prosperity Bussiness To Your Zi Zai Restaurant.

Regards Michael Chong & Family with Adelynn Chong & Xin Yii…
Kangen Water House
607 M, Jalan Lembah Permai
Tanjong Bungah. 11200. Penang


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