What exactly is Lok lok? To me, lok lok is like steamboat – except your ingredients are all on skewers and your soup base is really just boiling water.
And that’s exactly what you see in the above picture. (Photo credit to Desmond). A table with a cooker fitted in the middle, a pot of boiling water and plates and plates of fresh ingredients on skewers surrounding the cooker.
On this particular day, we were having Lok lok at the evening hawker center at Pulau Tikus Market in Penang. This was a new experience for me as lok lok has always been a food truck affair for me. And one that mum would never let us try because of its questionable hygiene.
It’s not hard to see why it’d be unhygienic. While communal eating is not a foreign concept to us Asians, lok lok is a pot of water where every Tom, Dick and Harry will dip their skewer into. You don’t know who you’d be sharing that pot of boiling water with! Still, we like to argue that the boiling water will kill anything (not true) and that as long as people don’t double dip it’s okay? Maybe!
The eating process is easy, you pick a skewer with the ingredient you want and you pop it into the cooker. You let it cook for however long you’d like and then retrieve it. Dunk it in your choice of sauce (mine was Tom Yum) and chow down! Other sauces available were Satay and Sweet Chilli I think. Or I might be making that last one up. I don’t know, I stuck to my Tom Yum.
With a group of friends, this can be a really jovial affair. I love steamboats, and I love lok lok. Hell, I just love communal eating. There is nothing more heartwarming than sitting around a table with your friends, eating and laughing away.
Lok lok at Pulau Tikus Market. Hit it.