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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

5 Must-Try Street Food In Penang

My recent Penang trip with the husband was actually my birthday present for him, but he would argue that I chose the venue more for myself than for him. I don’t deny it. I’ve been thinking about going back to Penang since my visit more than 10 years ago, especially when I heard about how the cafe culture has completed revolutionized Georgetown. Plus, who can resist the street food in Penang? It is certainly befitting to crown Penang a Street Food Paradise. I don’t claim to have tried everything nice in Penang, but I did try my best to cover as many as I could in the three days I was there, and everything I’ve eaten there tastes good. Today, I share 5 of the foods that I tried and LOVED in Penang.


I went to Penang prepared with a list of famous street food I want to search for and couldn’t believe my luck when I spotted Kheng Pin cafe just a minute’s walk away from my hotel! Within this coffeeshop lies the yummiest Lor Bak I’ve ever tasted. Step into the coffeeshop and almost every table has a plate of the famous lor bak and I observed how the stall-owners were frying and serving non-stop the whole time I was there.


The cute Uncle wears a chef’s hat while doing all the frying. For hygiene and style. =)

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It was really delicious! Crispy, chewy & fresh off the wok!


There were of course other stalls at the coffeeshop and I would recommend you try this next dish as well.


What caught my attention about this stall was how there were customers ordering non-stop. I was sitting at the table just next to the stall and could hear what everyone was ordering and decided that I should also try their fish congee since it sounded like their most popular dish.


There is something very comforting about having congee for breakfast. :) Indeed, the congee was yummy! Unlike Hong Kong –style congee, this was not the sticky kind. Instead, I could taste the rice grain by grain. And it was so fragrant and tasty that I finished the whole bowl in no time at all. Yes, the fried dough sticks added bonus points to the dish definitely. Love it!


If you are planning to visit, please make sure you do so before 1pm as the coffeeshop is closed from 2pm onwards.


Don’t worry if this is the first time you’ve seen this word because I didn’t even know about it until I visited Farlim Night Market. Speaking of which, Farlim Night Market is the biggest night market in Penang and totally worth a visit because it’s so uniquely Penang! Apart from the abundance of street food, you can also find many different products being sold there from bags to clothes, toys and shoes etc. The very interesting part of this night market is that all the stalls are made up of different vehicles! Every stall owner drives in their cars, lorries, trucks and even motorcyles and use their vehicles as the stall. The boots are opened up, tables set up in front of the boot and all the goods displayed for customers to see. Love the atmosphere in that place! But so take note, Farlim Night Market happens only every Wednesday night.


As you can, these two trucks were food stalls. The one on the right sells the Char Koay Kak, and the one on the left sells desserts. We ordered from both and settled down at the makeshift eating area where tables and chairs were set up. So interesting to see how the vendors were cooking up a storm from their trucks by simply opening up the shutters on both sides!


This is it. It’s very similar to the fried carrot cake we have in Singapore except that it’s more mashed up and sticky. Very tasty and recommended to try because we don’t have this in Singapore!


This cheng teng-lookalike dessert was sweet and refreshing with lots of ‘treasures’ found inside such as longan, pearls, jellies etc. Best for washing down our Char Koay Kak!



This was recommended by our friend who lives in Penang and we wandered there to have the wanton mee for supper on one of the nights. The street was bustling with many hungry customers patronizing the famous Chulia Street food hawkers.

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It was a small bowl of noodles but packed with goodness. The noodles had a spring to it, char siew were chewy and not fatty at all and the wantons came in both fried and cooked. The winning formula was probably the sauce – black sauce with a tinge of spicy-ness.



This is an absolute winner in this list, and you cannot claim that you’ve been to Penang without trying this Chendol. I don’t know whether it’s the just-right sweetness, the extreme coldness of it on a super hot day or the everybody-stand-along-the-street eating culture that made this stall a winner, but I had it 3 times and it was still not enough. I thought about it everyday after I came back.

There are actually 2 stalls selling chendol along this street but it’s impossible to go to the wrong one because there is perpetually a long queue at the authentic stall. I wonder how the other stall feels everyday, seeing his competitor do so well. They probably survive on spillover customers from the authentic stall, for those who do not want to queue? Then again, they serve the customers at such a high speed that everyone gets their chendol really fast, so there is really not much wait at all.


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Behold this beauty. Too good.


Of course, there are other delicacies that are worth trying in Penang such as Char Kway Tiao, Assam Laksa, Curry Noodles and lok-lok, but I personally found the 5 street foods I mentioned in this post, to be my favorites. We did pop by Gurney Drive one evening, but found their food to be only so-so. Seems that Gurney Drive is really overrated? These are the dishes we tried and we were not impressed.

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Everyday in Penang is a tummy-happy day. I need to go back again soon! Next post on Penang will be on the cafes I’ve visited. Stay tuned! :)

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