Self-Guided Penang Food Tour
Guess what? I am now in Georgetown, one of the four UNESCO World Heritage sites in Malaysia! Veiled with a rich history, this city is also blessed with an abundance of good food! Georgetown is a food haven that even Malaysians from other states will travel to Georgetown just to hunt down the best food! The same for me, I came and had a Penang Food Tour!
In fact, the scrumptious food in Georgetown is the sole reason why this is my 5th visit here and it’s still counting! Although they are delicious, you might not be adventurous enough to try all the food in Georgetown. After all, this is Asia. Some of the food might contain bizarre ingredients that you might have never seen in your life. Some of them have a tangy smell (yeah we are talking about you here, fellow durians). And some of them, you just won’t eat them (yes, there might be some pork brain in your congee).
This Penang Food Tour Guide for you if you don’t wanna go too adventurous in Georgetown. The food listed here are still awesome, even for a Malaysian like me. Just follow this food tour and you’ll be right.
PS: The most adventurous food is at the last of the list.
About Penang food tour
The variety of food in Georgetown is out of this world. As some food are highly sought after, there are bound to be a lot of stalls selling the same thing. These food include (non-exhaustive) Penang Char Kuay Teow (stir-fried flat rice noodle), Cendol (dessert with crushed ice) and Assam laksa (spicy, fishy soup with noodles in it).
Of course, the quality of the food differs between different stalls. I dare not say the restaurants/stalls listed below serve the best food in Georgetown, but they are the places that I will come back to when I am back in Georgetown again. So I present the authentic Penang food tour to you!
Moh Teng Pheow Nyonya Kuih
MUST TRY: Seri Muka (a two-layered dessert which the main ingredients are coconut milk, glutinous rice and pandan) and Rempah Udang (glutinous rice garnished with fried shrimps, wrapped in banana leaves)
Back in the last century, there was a mass migration from China to the Malay archipelago due to the precarious financial situation in China. Fascinated by the way of living of the Malay people, the Straits-born Chinese then observed the Malay culture and gastronomy. They are then called Peranakan (Per-ah-nak-ahn), or Baba (the male) and Nyonya (the female). The spices that were available in Malaya added a fusion twist to the Chinese traditional desserts, creating these mouthwatering confectionery that will never fail to impress.
The “Seri Muka” here is by far the best that I have tried. It’s even better than the one that I’ve tried in Malacca.
Nasi Kandar Line Clear
MUST TRY: Nasi Kandar
Nasi Kandar is originally from Penang. This explains why people come to this island state to search for the best Nasi Kandar in Malaysia. Basically, Nasi Kandar is steamed rice that is served with a variety of dishes. Being predominantly mild curries, the dishes add a beautiful flavour to the steamed rice and you just can’t get enough of it.
This shop is really famous. Open 24/7, the brightly lit storefront never fails to attract the crowd especially at the wee hours of the morning. Maybe it appeals to those who are craving to have some after-party, comfort food. Or those who are working early in the morning. In any case, do not visit this place at night. It’s gonna be jam-packed.
Toh Soon Cafe
MUST TRY: Charcoal grilled bread with Kaya (coconut egg jam)
Well, I know your frowned. But trust me, the coconut egg jam is lovely. Tell you what – this cafe is easily my favourite breakfast place in Penang. Hidden along one of the many laneways in Penang, Toh Soon cafe is a favourite for locals and tourists alike.
I discovered this place when I was haphazardly walking the alleyways of Georgetown. With more than 70 years of history, Toh Soon Cafe insists on serving old school Malaysian breakfasts in the most traditional way. And lucky you and I! We have the opportunity to taste the good flavours that date back to the 50’s! Not to miss if you are doing a Penang food tour!
PS again: The charcoal stove looks like as if it’s from Qing dynasty.
Ming Xiang Tai Pastry
MUST TRY: Egg tarts
You’d be mad to miss these tarts when you’re in Georgetown. With a crusty tart shell and an almost-gooey filling, the egg tarts in Ming Xiang Tai were the best one I had in Malaysia.
Ming Xiang Tai is a franchise in Penang. The particular one that I am talking about here is the one located at Penang Road. The owner of the shop painstakingly put in effort into the interior designs and the decors of the shop in order to depict the good ol’ days in Penang. Order an egg tart (or two) at the counter and savour the dessert at the dining room (back of the shop).
Penang Road Famous Cendol
MUST TRY: Teochew Chendul
Teochew is an ethnic group in China (and I can speak the dialect! Cool right?) Yes, I expect a round of applause.
You will not have any trouble locating this shop: just walk along Penang Road towards the Komtar direction and you will see a long queue on your left. Join them and you’ll be right.
I actually have no idea why it was called Teochew Chendul though. But that doesn’t matter too much. This is the perfect dessert for the never-ending summer in Malaysia. Join the queue and get a bowl of refreshing shaved ice topped with condensed milk, coconut sugar, red beans, jelly and some other ingredients! You’d be mad to miss chendul in your Penang Food Tour!
Penang Road Famous Assam Laksa
MUST TRY: Assam Laksa
Make sure you go to the right one. (The one on google map) There’s two shop selling the same thing side by side. Go to the one with more people.
I mean, how can a Penang food tour be complete without Assam Laksa? To be honest, I’ve never liked Assam Laksa in my life, especially the Penang one. This may sound like a blasphemy to the Penangites but oh my dear lord, IT WAS THE FISHIEST THING IN THE WORLD.
However, this shop gave me a life-changing moment. My friend recommended that I should opt out the fish sauce and just have the original Assam Laksa and guess what, that was indeed life-changing. I started to love Assam Laksa since then!
Located just beside the Teochew Cendol stall, this place is easy to navigate. Just ask the hawker not to put the fishy, dark red sticky annoying sauce into your perfect bowl of Assam Laksa.
Tiger Char Kuay Teow
MUST TRY: Char Kuay Teow (Fried flat rice noodle)
Char Kuay Teow is a really typical street food that you can find in many places when you are in Penang. The Char Kuay Teow here is awesome. The lard and the Chinese sausage and the aroma of the charcoal, it was sinfully perfect.
But there’s something that you might wanna know.
The wait is really long. I mean it. One has to wait for around 1 hour (or more for a table) and even longer for the Char Kuay Teow to be served to you. This is because the hawker insists on frying the kuay teow plate by plate, instead of bulk frying. Yes, the taste is unforgettable but if you’re impatient or in a rush, then you might wanna reconsider visiting this stall. It will just spoil your mood. You can visit other stalls which might not have the same quality of Char Kuay Teow but with a quicker service. Furthermore, the parking at Tiger Char Kuay Teow is really limited as the stall is by the roadside. It might be a problem if you are driving.
Kimberley Street Night Market
MUST TRY: Chicken feet kuay teow t’ng (Braised chicken feet served with a bowl of brothy flat white noodles)
To complete your Penang food tour, you must go to a night market! The night market along Kimberley street is my favourite night market because the main thing they sell here is food, whereas other night markets sell more like clothes, pirated DVD, souvenirs and other things.
It’s a night market so come here only at night! Once here, you’ll be greeted by a few stretches of stalls selling good food. The one I love the most is the chicken feet! Wonderfully braised, the flesh (or skin) is so tender that they just detach from the bones once they enter your mouth. Just bring an empty stomach to Kimberley street and you’ll be right!
Go for a guided food tour if you want to have the food explained to you in depth! Best for foodies! I have tried GetYourGuide tours for quite some time and I can say all my experiences have been amazing.
Happy planning and eating! Ciao, bella e bello!
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