If you are visiting Penang, chances are, it is mainly for food. And for good reason! Penang is famous for different ethnicities, religions, and culture. These elements are perfectly reflected through their food. Here, everyone is a Penang foodie. If you are planning to visit this place, here are some popular must-try foods in Penang.
Focusing mainly on where to eat in Georgetown Penang, it includes some of the most persistent eateries on the island, serving some of the best examples of vital Penang dishes like Asam Laksa, Curry Mee, Chendol, Char Koay Teow, and many more.
Singaporeans also believe that Malaysian food is tasty and healthy. The reason behind this may be the water there. While traveling to Penang, forget about the comforts of air-conditioned restaurants and be prepared to search every nook and corner of Penang streets for enjoying the best street food in Georgetown.
Must-try Foods in Penang
Char Koay Teow
It is one of the must-try foods in Penang. Most of the Singaporeans are familiar with this dish. Char Koay Teow is a national favorite in Singapore and Malaysia. Obviously, Penang has their fair share of popular Char Koay Teow stalls with their own specialty taste. What most people appreciate about this dish is the flavor of “Wok Hei” and the freshness of the ingredients. Also, choosing duck eggs can give you a rich taste to a mouthful of noodles.
If you want to taste the best hawker food in Penang, you must try Nasi Lemak. This dish is easily available in Malaysia or Kuala Lumpur. But, do you know what is exactly and why you should try it?
Nasi Lemak is a fragrant dish with creamy cooked rice in coconut milk. It is generally eaten for breakfast and is a filling and healthy meal to start your day with. Many variants exist across India, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Southern Thailand, and Brunei.
In most of the traditional Malaysian versions, the rice is paired with sambal, i.e. a spicy sauce, along with peanuts, a boiled egg, and anchovies. However, many street food shops serve it with fish, fried chicken, cockles, fried eggs, beef, or chicken rendang
There are many good places to try this best food in Penang, but there are a few that are above the rest. They are constantly praised by local foodies. One among them is Ali Nasi Lemak. This family-run business has ruled the fine art of preparing this dish, and you can see how it is prepared. The outcome is simply tasty. Once you taste this dish you will keep on asking for more.
Penang Hokkien Mee
It is one of the popular must-try foods in Penang. You will get this dish in most of the night markets in Penang. Penang is usually served with tangy broth along with prawns, which is different from the black sauce noodles found in Malaysia.
The first thing which you will notice when the dish is served is its deep red color. It oozes intensity and flavor. The broth is made by combining prawn heads and shells, pork bones, and dried shrimp. In this broth, yellow egg noodles, rice noodles, as well as nice chunks of roasted pork and prawns are added.
Extra ingredients to round out the soup include bean sprouts, fried shallots, egg slices, and lard. And if it is not enough, then the dish is served with a small dollop of chili on the side.
It is another popular Indian Muslim dish that was claimed to originate from Penang. It is fragrant rice topped with various curry-based meat or any vegetable dish of your choice. Covered in fiery-red orange but the curry for every dish tastes different.
Be careful as they use their chili and spices very generously. There is a whole street selling Nasi Kandar around Little India of Penang, along Lebuh Chulia and Lebuh Queen.
Popiah is a type of fresh spring roll. Its soft, and juicy filled with stewed radish, fresh veggies, and a sweet sauce. Popiah ingredients vary according to different places.
Some put eggs in it whereas some put prawns, while some put Chinese sausage. What is different about this dish in Padang Brown is that it has real crab meat in it. That is something that no other stall offers.
The stall, Padang Brown is found at Gerai Gerai Padang Brown, along Jalan Perak in Georgetown. Remember, you might have to take a cab here, as not many buses go to this area. The stall has been around for more than 60 years and is quite popular. To avoid any type of disappointment, you must visit before 5:30 pm.
Juicy, red like fire, this amazing chicken, originally from North India and imported to Penang by the Indian migrants, is one of the favorite Indian staple dishes, and one of the must try-foods in Penang. Chicken marinated in yogurt and different spices are cooked for several hours in a hollow oven. It is generally served with a fragrant naan.
Usually, Tandoori chicken comes in various set variants based on the distinct quality of naan. For example, a plain naan set will get you a piece of red chicken over a small piece of flatbread. On the contrary, the Cheese naan set will have a bread coated with what passes for Cheese here in Penang and so on. Some of the best places to enjoy Tandoori Chicken in George Town are Chulia street and costs around RM 10/12 price range. This is the cheapest meat fest you will enjoy around Southeast Asia.
A roti canai is like an Indian paratha. It is a thick fried bread. Often, it is served straight off the hot plate with orange curry but comes in different varieties to satisfy both salty and sweet tooth. People usually have Roti Kaya for breakfast: a thin roti filled with the typical kaya, Malaysia’s coconut jam. Another unique dish to try is roti tissue, rolled ultra-thin, and generally served folded like a small pyramid. It is a scenic way to start your day.
Transfer Road Roti Canai is one of the best places to have roti canai. Here, you will get varieties of Malaysian food items.
Another best dessert of Penang, Cendol is a bowl of shaved ice with chewy green colored rice flour jelly, coconut milk, gula Malaka, and kidney beans. Yes, the concoction seems to be strange, but the taste is unique and great, and so refreshing on a hot Penang day.
Satay is charcoal-grilled meat served in mini-skewers that are consumed after dipping them in peanut and curry sauce. Beef and chicken are the most common options- pork is considered haram in Islam. Often, Satay uses small chunks of meat compared to various other Malaysian towns and cities. If washed with a cold beer, its taste improves.
If you like noodles, then you must not leave Penang without enjoying the local Mee Goreng. It is a stir-fried noodle dish. The thin yellow noodles are fried with onion, shallots, and garlic.
Other ingredients, like prawns or chicken, are also added. This dish is usually dry but has a strong wok hei. They can be fried with chili too.