Lok lok, which means to dip, is like steamboat except that the food is skewered on sticks and you dip it into the hot boiling water instead of dumping it into a pot of boiling stock.
The types of food cover a wide range of every bite-size food imaginable such as clams, cockles, pork intestines, pork liver, sausages, fish balls, meat balls, squid balls, squids, shrimps, vegetables, sui kow, mushrooms, Chinese sausages and even some cooked items such as deep-fried wontons and deep fried beancurd sheets.
At roadside stalls, you will have to stand around the stall, dip the stick into the hotpot until the food is cooked, then dip (only once) into the sauce of choice and eat it straight from the stick. It is one of the easiest and fastest snacks, particularly for supper. That is why lok lok is available till very late at night.
The stall is one that is like no other as it would have a multi-level rack with rows of skewered food on sticks all stacked neatly. On both sides of the stall, there will be two pots of boiling water and in between, there will usually be three types of dipping sauces; chilli sauce, sweet sauce and spicy peanut sauce.
There are also lok lok stalls in hawker centres where the hotpot is in the middle of the table and the sticks of food are arranged on plates around the hotpot.
Sauces are placed in bowls or mugs on the table and customers are provided with a small plate and tiny forks each so that they can pour the sauce into their own plates to dip their food in.
It is quite common for most people to pour in a mix of chilli, sweet and peanut sauce to enjoy a multi-flavoured lok lok. Lok lok at hawker centres is usually eaten as a side dish to other main food like noodles or rice but it can also be enjoyed on its own for dinner or lunch.
The secret to most of these lok lok stalls is in the sauces they provide. Some stalls can provide up to eight different types of sauces from chilli sauce to unique blends of dried shrimp spicy sauce and sambal belacan sauce.
Lok lok places are usually open only at night but there are also some that open in the afternoon.
Here are some of the places to try out lok lok in George Town:
Roadside stall, junction of Chulia Street and Carnavon (7pm-10pm)
Padang Brown hawker centre @ Jalan Johor (12pm-6pm)
Jetty Lok Lok @ Kimberly St (6pm-10pm)