[Penang, Malaysia] You can probably find some of the best street food in Penang alone, and it is there I discovered many old-school familiar tastes and nostalgic sites at every corner, especially around the charming George Town.

Penang is also the first overseas place I ever visited as a child, thus there are many fond memories associated. I love watching how the hawkers stir up a plate of fried noodles with such gusto and passion. Growing up in a fast urbanizing city, it’s a sight I miss.

Here are 10 of the Must Eat Street Food in Penang. (Though I must add the disclaimer that there are just too many places to include. Watch out for updates.)

Penang Laksa
I personally think Penang Laksa is the defining, must-eat, have to try food when you travel to there. There are many laksa variants around Asia, but Penang’s Assam Laksa is one of its kind. Containing mackerel fish flakes and signature thick prawn paste (I don’t think you can get such good ones anywhere else in the world), this is a bowl of tangy, savoury, sweet and spicy all together. One word – Shiok! Delicious lah!

Pasar Air Itam Laksa
Jalan Pasar Road, 11500 Air Itam
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 8pm

Joo Hooi Café
475, Jalan Penang
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 5:30pm

Gurney Drive Hawker Centre
Persiaran Gurney
Opening Hours: 6pm – 12am

Char Koay Teow
Many Penang locals call the Char Koay Teow, stir-fried rice noodles, the best street food. Some Penang versions use generous portions of seafood, duck eggs, and fry them on charcoal stoves skillfully, creating this distinctive ‘wok-hei’ (heat) which makes every mouthful hugely satisfying. The Penang style is usually sweeter and lighter than Singapore’s dark version.

Ah Leng Char Koay Teow
Restoran Tong Hooi (opp Kafe Khoon Hiang)
Opening Hours: Closes at 2:30pm

Kafe Heng Huat
108, Lorong Selamat
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 6pm

Kedai Kopi Sin Guat Keong
Lebuh Kimberly
Opening Hours: 6pm – 12:30am

Fried Oyster Omelette (Oh Chien)
While Taiwan has its own thick sweetish kind, and Thailand a crisper version, I still enjoy Penang’s Oh Chien – potato starch fried with eggs and oysters. Found a random Kah Kah Oyster Omelette stall opposite the famous Penang Cendul shop, and was surprised how fluffy the starch mixture, fragrant the omelette and fresh the oysters are. An oily guilty treat nevertheless, but worth its calories for now.

Yi Garden
Macalister Road
Opening Hours: 6pm – 10:30pm

Lam Ah Coffee Shop
Carnarvon Street
Opening Hours: 11pm- 3:30pm

Kah Kah Fried Oyster
Lebuh Keng Kwee

Cendol
Penang’s usually hot all year around, and a bowl of cooling Cendol becomes a must-have. Containing jelly ‘noodles’ with green colouring from pandan, red bean palm sugar, and shaved ice, the freshness of the coconut milk makes all that difference. Tourists go for the Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul, while the locals think otherwise.

Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul
27 & 29 Lebuh Keng Kwee
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 7:00pm (Mon-Fri), 10:00am – 7:30pm (Sat-Sun)

Joo Hooi Cafe
475, Jalan Penang
Opening Hours: 12pm – 5:30pm

New World Park
Lorong Swatow
Opening Hours: 10am – 9pm

Prawn Noodles (Hae Mee)
Hokkien cuisines are known to have a more intense and richer taste, thus expect the same from Penang’s Hae Mee. (Sometimes, people get confused because both the prawn noodle soup and fried versions are call ‘Hae Mee’.) The broth is usually in a shade of orange, cooked by boiling prawn head and pork ribs for many hours, topped with deep fried shallot. Umami at its best.

Ah Soon Kor Har Mee
168, Jalan Macalister
Opening Hours: 6:30am – 1pm

One Corner Café
No 2, Jalan Bawasah
Opening Hours: 8am – 11am

Kwai Lock Café
295B, Jalan Burmah, Pulau Tikus
Opening Hours: 6:30am – 1:30pm

Wantan Mee
Thank you to my faithful travel mates who accompanied to try Wantan Mee every day. Penang’s Wanton Mee has an old-school style that I miss. Simple springy noodles with thinly cut roast pork tossed in black sauce, not forgetting the very fragrant pork lard.

Wan Tan Mee Stall
Lebuh Chualia (in front of furniture shop)
Opening Hours: 7:30pm – 11:30pm

Kwai Lock Coffee
295-B, Jalan Burmah
Opening Hours: 5:30am – 3pm

Swee Kong Coffee Shop
Pulau Tikus Jalan Burma (opp Pulau Tikus Police Station)
Opening Hours: 6am – 9am (Closed Mon, Thurs)

Curry Noodles
People around the world are snapping up MyKuali White Curry Instant Noodles, so why not try the real deal? A dish quite unique to Malaysia, this has yellow noodles or vermicelli in spicy curry soup. Though Penang’s version is usually less milky and lighter.

Sister’s Curry Noodles
Jalan Paya Terubong, Air Itam
Opening Hours: 8am – 1pm

Tua Pui Curry Mee Stall
No 23 Lebun Kimberly
Opening Hours: 9am – 5:30pm

Curry Mee Stall
Lebuh Chulia (in front of furniture shop)
Opening Hours: 7:30pm – 11:30pm

Lok Bak
Some call this ‘ngo hiang’ or five-spice pork roll, though more commonly known as Lok Bak in Penang. Most Lok Bak stalls sell this minced pork roll along with other ingredients such as fishcake, prawn fritters, and beancurd – deep-fried and dipped in sweet and sambal chilli sauces.

Kheng Pin Café
80 Penang Road
Opening Hours: 7am – 3pm (Closed Mon)

Hon Kei Food Corner
45 Kampung Malabar
Opening Hours: 9am – 3pm, 5pm – 12am (Closed Thurs)

Penang Rojak
Before I talk about Rojak, you must know that Penang is very famous for its fermented prawn paste, otherwise known as ‘hae ko’. This thick sweet black sauce defines a good Rojak- which means ‘mixture’ in Malay. Penang’s Rojak would usually add fruits such as guava, raw mangoes and green apples, and omit dough fritters and beancurd puffs. Imagine refreshing fruits with salty thick black sauce. Ah-hah.

Hock Seng Rojak King
Macallum Street (in front of Kedai Kopi Sin Hong Leong)
Opening Hours: 11am – 5pm

Kompleks Makanan Medan Renong
Jalan Padang Kota Lama
Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm

Rojak at Penang Road Teochew Chendul Shop
27 & 29 Lebuh Keng Kwee
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 7:00pm (Mon-Fri), 10:00am – 7:30pm (Sat-Sun)

Mang Chang Kuih
In simple words, this is pancake. But wait till you try this. My guide recommended Anson Road’s as possibly the best mang chang kuih in town. Had the ham, cheese and mayo. Prepared by a 3rd generation owner, his grandpa, his papa also sold these pancakes. He was originally a hair stylist who decided to take over his family’s stall. We are kind of glad he did.

Anson Road Market Pancake
Anson Road (in front of Lok Pin Coffee Shop)
Opening Hours: 10am – 5pm

Pulau Tikus Maket
B1-12B, Jalan PAsar
Opening Hours: 6:30am – 12pm

I must thank my local guide Alex, people we meet on the streets (Just ask. Penang people are very friendly!), and several friends for their food recommendations.

Of course, the Penang locals would know best where to get the best food, so do leave a comment, because I intend to go back, hopefully very soon. (And a token street art photo at George Town.)

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