Your stay in Penang won’t be completed if you didn’t go all out for its food. Here are Penang top 10 street food you must try!
When people travel to Malaysia, especially to Penang Island, they will notice one thing outstanding there – FOOD.
There are plenty of them, various types of them, you can find them everywhere almost anytime and you’ll see people are enjoying food 24 hours day and night. Well there is no doubt that food is one of the most enjoyable things to die for in Asia. Yet, not many travellers know the best location to find best street dishes. And this is the reason why travellers will connect with their local friends to be their guide in hunting for the food they are craving for.
Unleashing the Penang Food. Today you’re going to find out the top 10 superb street food you must try while you’re in Penang. Penang is one of the world’s top eating destinations, just in case you didn’t know. From seafood, fine dining down to the street or hawker food. These truly draw travellers around the world to visit Penang to enjoy it. Penang hawker food reflects the multicultural makeup of the town, which has citizens of Chinese, Malay and Indian descent. The streets of Penang are lined with hawker stalls, coffee shops and hawker centers where multiple vendors offer their specialties.
“Penang hawker food reflects the multicultural makeup of the town, which has citizens of Chinese, Malay and Indian descent.”
You’ve just settled down all your stuff and unpack your bags at the hotel room, and now ready for the food adventure. Skip McDonalds, here are the top 10 street food you may want to start first.
Nasi Kandar. It is a malay word for a white rice, peddled by men using their shoulders to carry them. Originated from Indian Muslim, now Nasi Kandar has become a Penang specialty. Today it’s most often found in large and small restaurants that spill out onto the street. This richly spiced meal features various fish and meat curries, other gravy over the white rice. To add the awesomeness, fried chicken, prawn sambal or squids are among the popular add-on dishes.
Char Kway Teow. Now this is truly a Penang specialty. Char Kway Teow consists of long, flat rice noodles stir-fried in a hot wok with a reasonable amount of soy sauce, fresh prawns, cockles, scrambled egg, bean sprouts and green onions. The dish is commonly served on a banana leaf and is one of the most popular hawker dishes in town. To enjoy it, you need to take it while it is still hot. Add some chili if you want it to enjoy it spicy.
Penang Assam Laksa. Assam laksa is so closely associated with the city that it’s often called Penang laksa. The fiercely contrasting flavors of this soup — fishy mackerel or sardine, sour tamarind and fiery chili — come together perfectly in assam laksa. It’s served with chewy white noodles and garnished with fresh mint, shallots, cilantro, cucumbers and sweet pineapple. You can find assam laksa outside of Penang, of course, but it’s never as sour and certainly never as delicious.
Hokkien Mee. It may have its roots in the Fujian province of China, but the Hokkien mee you’ll find in Penang is different. The soup is a fragrant, fatty prawn-and-pork-bone-based broth served with a combination of chewy yellow egg noodles and thin, white rice vermicelli. Topped with hard-boiled egg, small prawns, fish balls, crispy fried shallots and spicy sambal, the dish is a perfect breakfast food.
Wantan Mee. You’ll find variations of wanton mee, a dish of Chinese origin, all over Asia, but the one in Penang leaves them in the dust. Springy egg noodles are served al dente with a sticky sauce made from soy sauce and lard oil, with a spoonful of fiery sambal on the side. It’s topped with pieces of leafy green Chinese kale, sliced green onions, pickled green chilies and wantans. The wantans are either boiled or steamed, as you’ll find them elsewhere in Malaysia, or fried, in a unique Penang twist. If you prefer, you can also order wanton mee “wet,” meaning the noodles are served in a rich broth.
Rojak Buah. Buah is a Malay word for fruits, while Rojak stands for everything mixed up together. A dish that sounds unappetizing but tastes wonderful, it is basically a fruit salad with pieces of fried crullers and topped with a thick, sweet sauce made of black shrimp paste and crushed peanuts. Sweet pineapple, green mango and papaya, rose apples, jicama, cucumber and guava are tossed in to the dark sauce, which has the consistency of molasses. The combination of sweet fruit and savory seafood is surprisingly good.
Lobak. A Hokkien dish that is a specialty of the Chinese of Penang, lobak is minced pork that has been marinated in five-spice powder before being wrapped in soft bean curd skin and deep-fried. Lobak is served with two dipping sauces, a spicy red chili sauce and a gravy thickened with cornstarch and beaten egg called lo.
Curry mee. Curry mee is an amazing spicy coconut curry soup with yellow egg noodles and rice vermicelli. The soup is rich and a bit sweet; it’s definitely not for calorie counters. Each bowl has at least a few of the following: chicken, tofu puffs, prawns, pork blood, cockles and cuttlefish. Garnished with fresh mint leaves and a spoonful of peppery sambal paste, curry mee is, at its best, transcendent.
Koay Chiap. This fragrant pork and duck soup is flavored with star anise and cinnamon and filled with the parts of the duck and pig that many prefer to avoid: ears, tongue, liver, intestines, blood. The rice and tapioca noodles, or koay chiap, are handmade and the soup is served with a hard-boiled egg, sliced green onions and spicy chili sauce. Usually served at night, this is a delicious dish that rewards the adventurous.
“The perfect refreshment on a hot day, ice kacang is a shaved ice dessert topped with red bean, grass jelly, sweet corn and attap chee (palm fruit).”
Ice Kacang. The perfect refreshment on a hot day, ice kacang is a shaved ice dessert topped with red bean, grass jelly, sweet corn and attap chee (palm fruit). Sugar syrups and condensed milk or coconut milk are then poured over the ice to sweeten the dish. A Penang variation on this Malaysian dessert is the punchy addition of shredded nutmeg, a native fruit.
While there are many places you can locate these lovely food, only the local knows where to find the best of these. Thus, to satisfy your tummy wanderlust, the best way to hunt for the best is to do it with your local Penang friends.