Penang — The Pearl of the Orient.
It is known by many to have the best Malaysian food, and as a half Penangite, going to Penang is just my yearly ritual. Aside from visiting my relatives, Penang food is another reason that draws me there every year. You may be overwhelmed by the huge variety of local food that Penang offers, but fret not! Here is a list of food that you MUST try in Penang.
1. Chee Cheong Fun
This goes right on the top of the list, just because it’s my favourite food in Penang. Chee Cheong Fun is made of steamed rice rolls, and the difference with the Hong Kong style one (the one with soy sauce) is that the local Chee Cheong Fun uses thick prawn paste instead. In my op, only Penang makes such great Chee Cheong Fun, and it’s particularly flavourful when it’s made fresh. Definitely recommend the one in Genting Cafe (kopitiam)!
Address: Lorong Delima 3, Taman Island Glades, 11700 Jelutong, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
2. Hokkien Mee (Prawn Mee)
The flavourful broth combined with yellow noodles and bee hoon (rice vermicelli) is something that you cannot miss in Penang (unless you are allergic to prawns, of course.) The broth has a tinge of sweetness and spiciness in it, and essential ingredients in it are pork, hard boiled eggs, prawns, taugay (bean sprouts), and even kang kong! Getting the right amount of flavour for Prawn Mee is tough, but Penang has got it right.
3. Kway Teow Tng
Served in a bowl of lightly flavoured soup, these flat white noodles certainly warms your soul from the inside. Kway Teow Tng is one of Penang’s most famous dishes and it’s definitely lighter than others, making it a good switch from the usual oilier Penang dishes. Minced pork, fishballs and lettuce are usually added inside, and garnished with some spring onions for the extra spazazz.
4. Wanton Mee
Not sure how the Penangites do it, but the Wanton Mee in Penang is something that you cannot miss. It can be served soup or dry (my favourite), and is the same as those you find in Singapore – topped with slices of char siew and served with a bowl of wanton soup. However, Wanton Mee in Penang uses dark soy base to mix the noodles generally, instead of tomato sauce. The noodles used are also tangy without the strong noodle taste (if you know what I mean) which makes the dish much more delicious.
5. O’ Jian (Fried Oyster Omelette)
Fried Oyster Omelette, commonly known as O’Jian, is literally what the name suggests. The egg is fried with oyster and tapioca flour is added to give the dish a more soft and gooey texture on top of the crispy omelette. It’s definitely something you do not want to miss there if you are a fan of oysters!
6. Roti Canai (Roti Prata)
Although you can also find this in Singapore, Roti Canai in Penang are always ever so crispy, and if you get the plain ones, they will shred it for you to make it easier to eat. Just be sure to order ‘Roti Canai’ and not ‘Roti Prata’ or else they won’t be able to understand you at all. 😉 I love the ones in Air Hitam in Penang!
7. Nasi Kandar
Nasi Kandar is a very popular muslim dish in Penang. It is served with freshly steamed rice topped with curries and side dishes of your choice. Everyone’s Nasi Kandar is different, but the best part about Nasi Kandar is the curry. Penangites also have a way to make curry taste so good, you can just have curry with rice. I don’t know about you, but I always love to have a glass of teh peng (iced milk tea) to go with my Nasi Kandar to relief some of the spiciness. One of my go to for Nasi Kandar is Original Penang Kayu Nasi Kandar. Just take note not to over order the ingredients because they all LOOK SO GOOD.
The pride of Penang. Cendol is an iced sweet chinese dessert topped with gula melaka (made from palm sugar), green jelly-like rice noodles, red bean, and coconut milk. This dish is just plain delicious, and in the sweltering hot and humid weather in Penang makes it much more satisfying. The most famous Penang chendol would definitely be here:
Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul
Address: 27 & 29 Lebuh Keng Kwee, 10100 Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
Contact: +604 262 6002
9. Ice Kachang
Ice Kachang, also known as red bean ice, is a chinese dessert made with shaved ice, syrup and red beans. Other toppings are also added, such as corn, and chinese jelly. In some places, homemade peanut ice cream is added to the dessert to add spice to the dessert. It is a great dessert to go for on a hot day in Penang!
Apom is Penang’s take on crepe and it’s fluffy texture keeps me going for it all the time. It’s a very simple snack, usually with a soft and fluffy centre and crispy sides. It’s a little sweet, and the lightness of Apom definitely keeps you wanting for more with every bite.
11. Ban Jian Kueh
This Chinese peanut pancake is one of Penang’s most popular snack. It is a crispy round pancake topped with peanuts inside. Of course, there are other toppings to choose from, but the best would definitely be peanuts and corn. There’s just something so special about the Ban Jian Kueh to make you want for more, and the best part is, it is made fresh so that it doesn’t lose it’s flavour. Just make sure you eat it immediately after buying it so that it doesnt turn cold!
12. Kopi C Peng
Or any Kopi in Penang, it’s Penang’s traditional coffee. It’s different from those you find in cafes, and the taste of coffee is much stronger. The colour of Kopi is also usually much darker than your usual cafe coffees, and it is definitely a satisfying drink for coffee lovers.
13. Nyonya Kueh
Traditionally from Malaysia, Nyonya kueh are bite sized Peranakan desserts that are famous all around Malaysia. There are many different kinds of nyonya kueh, such as those made from glutinous rice topped with kaya, to even kueh made with colourful layers! Be sure to try them if you get the chance since it can literally be eaten for any meal of the day! You can try the kuehs at Moh Teng Pheow Nyonya Koay & Canteen, they’re great!
14. Assam Laksa
Assam Laksa is different from the laksa you eat in Singapore — it is sour, and brings a lighter aroma instead of the usual Singaporean laksa with coconut milk. The assam laksa is topped with shredded pineapples and cucumbers, with sardines added to the soup to bring out the flavour. Definitely something you must try in Penang.
15. Char Kway Teow
Definitely a must-eat in Penang, Penang has one of the most fragrant char kway teow you can ever find. It is fried kuay teow topped with prawns, eggs, beansprouts, and even ‘ham’ (cockles in hokkien). However, it’s SUPER oily, so do slow down on that! 😉
Honorary mention: SUPER huge tissue prata
Doesn’t it make you drool 😉 This can be found at the same place as the Nasi Kandar shop: Original Penang Kayu Nasi Kandar. It’s super satisfying, and never ending.
Are there other food in Penang that shouts out to you the most? Or is there a particular place that serves the best dish? Leave your comments below so we can go back to try them! 😉