Penang has always been known as a food paradise in Malaysia due to its diversity in culture, ethnicity and religion. There are simply no lack of food options here if you know where to look. Although some people especially from out of town claimed that it is difficult to find a hawker stall that is not delicious, I will list down my personal opinions on which hawker stalls to visit and which one to avoid. However, as taste is a subjective matter, please read this article with an open mind. Without further ado, it is my greatest pleasure to share with a list of best food in Penang as a local Penangite.
Char Koay Teow
Char Koay Teow is one of the best food in Penang and famous among both Malaysians and Singaporeans. My most favourite Char Koay Teow stall can be found on Siam Road. The other Char Koay Teow stalls that I recommend are Goodall Coffee Shop Char Koay Teow and VIVA Hawker Food and Dim Sum Char Koay Teow. The Char Koay Teow stalls that I do not recommend are Lorong Selamat Char Koay Teow, Gurney Drive Hawker Centre Char Koay Teow and Cintra Street Char Koay Teow (look for the one that does not serve duck eggs).
Koay Teow Th’ng
Penang Koay Teow Th’ng typically comes with flat rice noodles and slices of pork, fish balls and fish cake in a soup. Some variations of Koay Teow Th’ng use duck meat instead of pork meat. You can also request for a dry version if you are not a fan of soupy dishes. The dry version comes with dark soya sauce. Overall, the Koay Teow Th’ng you can find around Penang Island has a decent taste and they are not overpriced unlike Char Koay Teow. I do not have a particular favourite or a list of stalls to recommend.
Penang Asam Laksa
In our previous article, we wrote about where to get the best Asam Laksa in Penang. Personally, I am not a big fan of Asam Laksa. If you miss the previous article, some of the most recommended Asam Laksa stalls are Air Itam Laksa, Kim’s Laksa in Balik Pulau, Taman Emas Coffee Shop Asam Laksa and Penang Road Famous Laksa.
Mee Goreng is an Indian and Muslim dish. Mee Goreng in Penang is cooked with yellow noodles stir fried in mixture of tomato sauce, dark soy sauce, chilli paste or cuttlefish chilli paste. Lime is usually added to the Mee Goreng for an additional tangy sensation. My favourite Mee Goreng stalls are Hameed Pata Mee Sotong stall at Esplanade and Haji Mohd Tokun Mee Goreng in Bukit Mertajam. Again, contrary to the majority favourite, I do not recommend Bangkok Lane Mee Goreng as I find the taste quite bland compared to Hameed Pata Mee Sotong and the portion is small as well because the place has become touristy.
Nasi Kandar was claimed to be originated from Penang although there is no concrete evidence to support the claim. The best places to have your Nasi Kandar is Nasi Kandar Beratur, Line Clear Nasi Kandar, Restoran Hameediyah, Restoran Deen Nasi Kandar Istimewa, Restoran Tajuddin Hussain and Restoran Nasi Kandar Irfanah in Bukit Mertajam.
Curry Mee is also a one of the best food in Penang. It is essentially a mixture of yellow noodles and vermicelli with prawns, cockles, tofu and cuttlefish in curry gravy. There is also a white of Curry Mee. The Curry Mee stalls that I recommend are Kedai Kopi Cathay Curry Mee, Tua Pui Curry Mee at Kimberly Street and Hot Bowl Curry Mee at Rangoon Road.
Wanton Mee in Penang tends to use firmer egg noodles topped with char siew (roasted pork) and boiled pork wantons in a sweet and savoury dark sauce. Personally, my most favourite Wanton Mee stall is the one located at Chulia Street. There are two Wanton Mee stalls there so look for the one located just opposite Mugshot Café and Rainforest Bakery.
Chendol is a famous desert in Penang. It is a bowl of shaved ice filled with Chendol (green rice flour jelly), red beans, fresh coconut milk and gula melaka (brown sugar) syrup. The recommended Chendol stalls are Penang Road Famous Teowchew Chendol, Macalister Lane Pushcart Chendol Stall and Kulim Best Chendol in Bukit Mertajam where you can add pulut (glutinous rice) to it. You can also find franchises of Penang Road Famous Teowchew Chendol in some of the major shopping complexes.
Rojak is a salad of bean curds, you tiao (Chinese Crueller), bean sprouts, cuttlefish and several different types of fruits drenched in a thick and syrupy peanut sauce. It is also commonly found in both Malaysia and Singapore. Personally, I like the Tan Swee Hoe Rojak that is located at Gurney Drive Hawker Centre.
Apom Manis is a thin crepe snack with soft flour centre and it is normally sold by both Chinese and Indian sellers. The crepe is made freshly in a pan over the charcoal fire using traditional methods. One of the most famous Apom Manis can be found at Swee Kong Coffee Shop in Pulau Tikus. The business has been operating for the past 80 years. Be noted that the opening hours are only from 6AM to 9 or 10AM so be there early in order to avoid disappointment. As an additional incentive for you to visit this place, the Hokkien Mee sold at this Coffee Shop is really delicious too and it is my personal favourite although they are not so generous with the soup and the portion can be considered a little bit small.