AFTER downing 18 plates of Penang char koay teow, Singaporean competitive eater Zermatt Neo gave his verdict – two thumbs up!
Joining him on this gastronomic adventure in Penang was Singaporean actress and content creator, Megan Chia, who also savoured two plates of the yummilicious char koay teow.
“I would give three thumbs up if I could,” Zermatt said when met at The Granite Luxury Hotel today.
Megan cheekily said: “In total, both of us gave four thumbs up.”
Zermatt finished eating 18 plates of Penang char koay teow in 40mins.
Both Zermatt and Megan arrived in Penang for the first time on Tuesday (Oct 11) to discover Penang’s local hawker fare.
Zermatt, who is also a YouTube personality with over 281,000 subscribers, said he does food-related videos which include eating challenges, food blogs and food reviews.
“Many viewers have requested me to travel to Penang and do an eating challenge.
“Char koay teow is the most iconic food here. I don’t see any other way to start this eating challenge trip except to eat Penang char koay teow in Penang.
“Following the recommendation of a local in Penang, Catherine, who is also The Granite Luxury Hotel sales and marketing director, we went to Ah Leng char koay teow in Jalan Datuk Keramat.
“It was incredible and exceeded my expectation. It was a league above the other char koay teow which I have tried,” he said.
Zermatt said, usually, he would do food tasting before filming the eating challenge.
“We usually do that in Singapore, but we cannot do it here in Penang because I can’t fly here to do food tasting. Hence, I relied on the recommendations of my viewers, like Catherine, for good food.
“I was hoping that the char koay teow will be good, and it turned out to be amazing. The char koay teow went down so easily. It was one of the more enjoyable eating challenges this year.
“If you are going to eat about 20 plates of one thing and if it turns out horrible, it is not going to be fun,” he said, adding that he was not a big fan of char koay teow but he liked the way the cook prepared his fried koay teow.
“The wok hei is strong, and the ingredients – duck egg, prawns, and others – blended together. The experience is great,” he said.
Zermatt, who was also a dietician, nutritionist, and certified personal trainer, said his knowledge as a dietician helped him to deal with the ‘aftermath’ after every eating challenge.
“I guess my experience as a personal trainer and dietician really helps when it comes to balancing up the calories and getting ‘everything’ out.
“Hitting the gym keeps me fit and healthy. People assume that I eat a lot every single day, but that is not the case. Normally, after every video shoot (unless I am travelling), I would take three to four days off from eating a lot.
“I would restrict myself to a whole bunch of healthy vegetables and lean protein. I take berries and nuts. I am typically a vegan when I am not filming but when I am filming, anything goes,” Zermatt, who obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition from the University of Wollongong, said.
Zermatt and Megan tried other Penang hawker delights during their four-day trip to Penang.
“We are leaving tomorrow (Oct 14). We have tried the Penang chendul, nasi kandar, and others.
“The nasi kandar was great! I have not tried nasi kandar in my entire life.
“I loved the combination of the different gravy. And I am a big fan of (food) heritage. When I eat a certain type of food, I want to take in its history, and how it is prepared and presented. Eating nasi kandar in Penang is really an experience!” Zermatt said.
Megan concurred and said that she had always wanted to try Penang’s assam laksa.
“While I know many Singaporeans like the lemak laksa, I prefer the spicy and sourish assam laksa.
“We wanted to try the Penang laksa yesterday (Oct 12) but it was sold out when we arrived. So today, we will go there a bit earlier to try our luck,” she said.
As an actress, Megan is involved in TV shows, films, and commercials with clients such as Mediacorp, meWATCH, Canon, and Singtel. She is also involved in content creation for clients like Kate Spade, Coach, New Balance, and Sony Music.
“I love to travel. Collaborating with Zermatt really helps me in expanding the content which I can create for my viewers and followers.
“Going to food spots really helps because when we travel, we want to know where the good food spots are. So, creating content on food spots really helps.
“In general, being in Penang and seeing how the people lived here, how nice Penangites are, really widens my mind.
“I can use these experiences and incorporate them into the way I act as an actress, or into different settings,” she said.
Megan said she has a younger sister, Emma, who also loves to create content.
“Nowadays, children have so much access to social media that they also want to be influencers and content creators.
“Because she is so young, I want to teach her how to manage her social media the right way.
“I do see her taking after me in many ways. I try to watch over her… the content she makes and what she features on social media and teach her internet safety,” she said.
Overall, Zermatt and Megan enjoyed their visit to Penang.
“The hospitality service of the hotel is amazing. We are very fortunate and blessed to be here. Everything about the hotel has been great. It is so clean and cosy.
“The locals, Penangites, are very friendly too,” Zermatt said, adding that he might return to Penang to try out more food and perhaps visit the tourist attractions in the state.
Story by Christopher Tan
Pix by Adleena Rahayu Ahmad Radzi and courtesy of The Granite Luxury Hotel