When it comes to best island experiences in the world, there are few that can compare to that of Penang, the pearl of the Orient. The island boasts a complex and rich history due to its pivotal position during the colonial era. This has resulted in Penang becoming a melting pot of multicultural identities from the Chinese, Malay, Indian and European influences. Not only is Penang an unbelievable food haven, its unique position in history has resulted in George Town being named a UNESCO World Heritage site.
For those who want to travel quick and easy, there is always air travel, and Penang is only 45 minutes away. One such site for best online deals is Traveloka, where you can simply book your air tickets and make hotel reservations through their website, which gives you best prices, but the best added value benefit above all, there are no hidden costs or fees.
Penang Street Food
Penang is home to some of the best street food in the world. Being infused with a rich multicultural history has caused some of the most dramatically intense flavours that you can imagine. Penang is infamous for its blend of different cuisines resulting in some of the tastiest dishes you will encounter.
Penang is home to the infamous Char Kuay Teow, a fried rice noodle consisting of The main noodle used is the flat rice noodles, hor fun (河粉) in the Cantonese dialect, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, chilli paste, belachan (a Malaysian fermented shrimp paste), garlic, beansprouts, blood cockles, prawns, Chinese chives, egg, and pork lard. There are halal variations of this dish as well. You can see my previous post on Char Kuay Teow to understand the history of this dish better.
Ah Leng Char Kuay Teow (啊龍炒粿条)
Restaurant Tong Hooi (東園茶餐室)
358, Jalan Dato Kramat,
10150 Georgetown, Penang.
Opening Hours: 8.30 am to 2.30 pm, closed on Tuesdays.
There are few dishes that stand out as much as the Assam Laksa. This soup noodle dish is made with a soup base consisting of a sour, fish and assam (Malay for tamarind) broth. This dish achieved global infamy for being listed as No. 7 of the world’s most delicious food according to CNN Travel. The main ingredients for this dish are ikan kembung ( a type of mackerel), cucumbers, shallots, chillies, shredded pineapple, lettuce, mint, daun kesum (laksa leaves / Vietnamese mint), bunga kantan (torch ginger), and a shrimp paste called hae ko (蝦羔) in the Hokkien dialect. The dish is served with thick rice noodles called laksa noodles. This is probably one of the most interesting dishes you will ever taste due to its amazing twist of sour, sweet and tangy, all at the same time.
Ayer Itam Assam Laksa
Pasar Air Itam,
11500 Air Itam, Penang.
Opening Hours: 11.00 am to 8.00 pm.
If you like a little spicy kick, you have to try the Penang Prawn Mee. This spicy prawn based soup noodle is available throughout the island. The naming of this dish is unique in that it is called Hokkien Mee (Hokkien noodles) by people from Penang, and Hae Mee (prawn noodles) by people outside of Penang, mee being the Hokkien word for egg noodles, although some may have it with bihun (rice vermicelli). The main ingredients for the broth are, as you can guess it, prawns. The broth is made with dried shrimp, prawn shells, pepper, garlic, chilli paste, and at some traditional establishments, even with pork bones and lard. Most places serve it simply with medium to small prawns, pork slices, fish cake, bean sprouts, kangkung (Chinese watercress), and boiled egg, however, some places go the whole nine yards with add-ons like roast pork, pork intestines, squid, spare ribs and large prawns, which intensifies the flavour quite a bit.
Ah Soon Kor Hokkien Mee
162, Jalan Macalister,
11400 Georgetown, Penang.
Opening Hours: 7.00 am to 2.00 pm and from 6.00 pm to 11.00 pm.
Another must have in Penang is the Oyster Omelette, a seemingly simple dish, yet great ones are hard to find. Known colloquially as o chien (蚝煎) in the Hokkien dialect, this dish consists of fresh oysters, eggs, potato or tapioca starch, chai por (preserved radish), coriander and chopped garlic. A key element to a good oyster omelette is also the accompanying chilli sauce, which makes all the difference. Essentially, there are 2 varieties of oyster omelette, one with more egg (pictured above), and the other with more starch (pictured at the top).
Northam Beach Café
58, Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah,
10050 Georgetown, Penang.
Opening Hours: 6.00 pm to 11.00 pm.
Penang is home to one of the most famous desserts in Malaysia, the Cendol. This icy dessert is made from green coloured jelly noodles made from rice flour, flavoured with pandan (screw pine), red bean, grass jelly, creamed sweet corn, and is served in coconut milk. This is topped with a large dollop of shaved ice, and brown palm sugar, ensuring you’re able to quench your thirst.
Penang Road Famous Teowchew Chendul
27, Lebuh Keng Kwee,
10100 Georgetown, Penang.
Business Hours: 12.00 pm to 7.00 pm.
For a more comprehensive guide on Penang food, see our Ultimate Guide: Penang Street Food.