Top 10 Penang Food
Penang is a state and island in Malaysia located on the northwest of Peninsula Malaysia by the busy Strait of Malacca. The name penang is derived from the word “pinang” which means betel in English. The state is founded by Captain Francis Light on 11 August 1786 and it was the one of the British Straits Settlement states with Singapore and Malacca. Penang was renamed by Francis Light as Prince of Wales Island.
Now, Penang is highly urbanised and industrialised and it is also one of the tourist destinations of the region. The city gained UNESCO World Heritage Site list a few years ago. With the UNESCO recognition, tourism in Penang reached a new height and food is always associated with the island. Sometime ago, Lonely Planet’s the “Food Book” listed Penang as the top of the list for #1 Destination for Food.
Hereby, I have listed top 10 food in Penang based on my opinion.
Char Kuey Teow
Char kuey teow means stir fried kuey teow or flat rice noodles. It is originated from Malaysia and most likely in Penang as most Malaysians claimed. Char kuey teow is stir fried flat rice noodles with light and dark soy sauce, chilli sauce, prawns, cockles, bean sprouts, egg and chopped spring onions. Some version comes with “lap cheong” (Chinese sausage) and sliced fish cake. Most of the char kuey teow stalls use pork lard to stir fry the noodle for better taste and it is important to have intense heat to generate the “wok hei” (extreme heat). For better taste, duck eggs are used to substitute chicken eggs at a small price but only on selected stalls. Char kuey teow is often labelled as sinful but it is very flavourful, tasty and addictive! A plate of char kuey teow should be less than RM 10 depending on portion and size.
Char Kuey Teow stalls are available in food courts all around Penang and I have listed some of the popular ones below.
Tiger Char Kuey Teow Address:
179, Carnavon Street, 10300, Georgetown, Penang.
Business Hours: 8am to 2:30pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: 6016- 458 0926
Ah Leng Char Kuey Teow CKT at Kafe Khoon Hiang:
Address: 358 Jalan Dato Keramat, 10150 Penang, Malaysia.
Contact: 012-498 3962 (Ah Leng)
Business Hours: 8.30am-2.30pm (Closed Thursday)
GPS: 5.412953, 100.319552
Hokkien Mee (Prawn Mee)
It is called Hokkien Mee in Penang but it is also known as Prawn Mee in Kuala Lumpur. Penang’s version Hokkien Mee is not the dark coloured thick yellow noodles from Kuala Lumpur or the light coloured yellow noodle from Singapore. Penang’s Hokkien Mee comes with a bowl of fragrant shrimp broth, mixture of yellow noodles and mee hoon together with slices of pork and shrimps and topped with fried shallots and chili. Usually the shrimp broth is cooked for hours so it is tasty and it comes with hints of spiciness from the chilli. This bowl of goodness is available in most food stalls in Penang.
Super Hokkien Mee offers good hokkien mee but they are notorious for their long waiting time and bad services, anyhow the address is as below.
Super Hokkien Mee Address:
One Corner Café
Our review: https://www.placesandfoods.com/2013/04/super-hokkien-mee-one-corner-cafe.html
Curry Mee/White Curry
Penang’s version of curry mee comes with curry soup with coconut milk, bee hoon, sliced cuttlefish, tofu pok, coagulated pig’s blood, cockles and generous amount of shrimp paste. Penang’s version is different than Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur’s version of curry mee especially with the inclusion of coagulated pig’s blood. If you are a spicy food lover, Penang’s curry mee is something you need to try in Penang.
The curry mee is available in most food stalls in Penang.
The portion is small or standard Penang size and it comes with white curry but it will turn red when you mix the chili paste together. It should have the same ingredients like the normal curry version. However, some cooks prefer to use other type of ingredients for their own preferences. The white curry is harder to find than the usual curry mee.
We stumbled upon Kuan Nan by chance in Prai, Butterworth and the taste was alright.
Kuan Nan Coffee Shop Address:
Restoran Kuan Nan Lebuh Kurau 3, Chai Leng Park 13700, Prai, Butterworth
This sour soup based noodle is rated as the top seven best food by CNNGo.com. You can read about it at http://www.cnngo.com/explorations/eat/worlds-50-most-delicious-foods-067535?page=0,1
Assam laksa is a bowl of multiple layers of ingredients, the thick savoury shrimp paste with bits of pineapple, shallots, onions, sardine or mackerel and many more. It is a mouthful of flavours and it never lack of disappointments. I prefer my bowl of assam laksa comes with thick broth and lots of shrimp paste.
Taman Emas Assam Laksa is usually patronized by locals and we were brought there by local friends and we enjoyed it. The address is as below.
Taman Emas Assam Laksa Address:
Taman Emas kopitiam
10350 Georgetown, Penang
Air Hitam Assam laksa has been around for years and it is not as cheap as it used to be.
Famous Air Hitam Assam Laksa Address:
Jalan Pasar, Penang
Fruit Rojak / Rojak Pasembur
There are two types of rojak in Penang, the fruit rojak and the rojak pasembur.
Fruit rojak is made of sliced cucumber, pineapple, brown turnip, tofupok (deep fried tofu) and mixed it together with thick savoury shrimp paste with crushed peanuts. Some versions come with bean sprouts, youtiao, raw mango and papaya. It is usually served on a plate or a takeaway Styrofoam with small bamboo stick.
Masterchef Australia judge George Calombaris fell in love with fruit rojak and amazed by the texture and the variety of taste of it during his recent visit to Malaysia.
You can find fruit rojak on small stalls or converted motorcycle stalls and in food courts in Penang.
Rojak Pasembur is another version of rojak is a Malaysian Indian version of salad with shredded cucumber and brown turnip with potatoes, beancurd, prawn fritters, fried octopus and served with spicy nut sauce similar to satay sauce. It is similar to rojak mamak but it is not rojak mamak. You can also add seafood balls, sausages, prawn fritters and many more onto your plate of rojak pasembur.
You can find many rojak pasembur stalls at Padang Kota Lama Food Court near Fort Cornwallis and also other food stalls around Penang. One of the popular stalls there is Hussain and the address of the Padang Kota Lama Food Court is as below.
Hussain Pasembur Address:
Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah, Georgetown, 10200 Pulau Pinang
You won’t complete Penang without having the popular Nasi Kandar. Originated from Penang, nasi kandar is a meal of steamed rice with choices of a variety of curries and side dishes.
Some of the side dishes include fried chicken, curry beef, lamb, chicken, fish roe, fried prawns, fried squid and many more. Thus, the vegetable dishes will be brinjal, lady’s fingers, cabbages, beansprout and many more. The side dishes are different depending on restaurants or stalls.
Some of the popular Nasi Kandar places include Nasi Kandar Beratur (Liyaqat Ali Nasi Kandar) and Nasi Kandar Line Clear.
Nasi Kandar Beratur (Liyaqat Ali Nasi Kandar) Address:
98 Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, Penang
Opening Hours: 22:00 – late
Nasi Kandar Line Clear Address and Contact:
Jalan Penang, Pulau Pinang
Tel: 04-261 4440
Tau Sa Piar
Most Penang food list seems to forgotten this popular food but most tourists who visited Penang always go back with packs of freshly baked tau sar piar. Tau sar piah means mungbean biscuit in Chinese dialect Hokkien. I almost forgotten to mention that many local Chinese are Hokkiens and they speak in Mandarin and Hokkien.
(Picture credit to Time Out)
Tau Sar Piah is usually baked with filling of salted mungbeans. The shape is like a mini egg and it is very tasty and addictive. They are usually sold in boxes and now some of them are sealed in plastic wrappers. There are two main popular brands in Penang and they are Ghee Hiang and Him Heang.
Koay Teow Th’ng
Koay Teow Th’ng is one of the unique food in Penang and you can’t find it in Kuala Lumpur. Basically, it is flat rice noodles served in broth with fish balls, slices of pork, fish ball and pork ball. Do not mistaken this as the pork noodle as this is a different thing. You will enjoy this simple and yet tasty food.
You can find Koay Teow Th’ng in stalls or food courts in Penang. We were told that the famous stall at Golden Lake Coffee Shop in the Relau has moved to its own premise as Restoran Hai and the address is as below.
Restoran Hai Address:
41, Ground Floor, Jalan Dato Ismail Hashim, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang.
Business Hour: 3pm to 12am. Daily.
Contact Number: 012- 449 3049
Kueh Chiap is a Teochew soup dish with flat rice noodles with duck meat, coagulated blood, bean curd, hard boiled egg in dark herbal broth. Kueh Chiap is a love or hate food in my own opinion as I never enjoyed it but I know many of my friends especially the locals love this dish.
(Picture credits to http://jellybeanscollector.blogspot.com)
Strangely, kueh chiap is popular in Singapore too and it is almost non-existent in other parts of Malaysia.
We were informed that the most popular kueh chiap stall in Penang is the Kimberley restaurant.
Kimberly Restaurant (汕头街权记粿汁专卖店)
137 Lebuh Kimberley,
George Town, 10100,
Business hours: 6.30pm – 11.30pm (Closed on Thursdays)
Source review: http://jellybeanscollector.blogspot.com/2013/04/penang-famous-duck-kuey-chap-lebuh.html
Cendol / Ais Kacang
Cendol or Chendol or Cendul is a popular Malaysian dessert. It is a cold dessert and the main ingredients are coconut milk, green coloured rice flour jelly, palm sugar (Gula Melaka) syrup, red beans and shaved ice. Some other version of cendol includes corn and glutinous rice.
Cendol is sweet and strong in flavour of coconut milk and the sweetness of the palm sugar. It is a thirst quenching dessert especially during the hot days.
It is usually available in stalls and also restaurants and food courts around Penang. The most popular cendol stall is Penang Road Cendol. It is packed 24/7 and you have to queue under the hot sun for a bowl of iced cold delicious cendol. The address is as below.
Penang Road Cendol Address:
Lebuh Keng Kwee
Off Penang Road
Open daily from : 11am – 7pm
GPS Coordinates : N05 2501.9 E100 1950.1
I have included ais kacang together with cendol as both are cold dessert using shaved ice. Imagine a bowl of shaved ice with corn, red bean, jelly, peanut and covered with thick rose syrup. This is sugar rush! Some comes with flavoured ice cream as topping as well as durian flesh and other ingredients such as atapchi (pine seed) and palm sugar syrup.
There is one popular ais kacang on Penang road and their version comes with two scoops of homemade durian ice cream on top of the mixed crush ice indulged with rose syrup topped with corns, beans and homemade jelly. The address is as below:
Kek Seng 格成 Coffee Shop Address:
382-384 Penang Road
GPS: N5 24.974 E100 19.759
This top ten list is based on our opinion and we didn’t include food like lor bak, oyster mee, oh chien and seafood. We do take feedbacks seriously and please do comment if you want us to include anything on the list.
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