Penang, the island city in Malaysia is home to the multicultural cuisine and you get to find lots of varieties here. Work has taken me to Penang many a time and the foodie in me has had the opportunity to experience many dishes that were not only mouth watering and super tasty but they introduced diverse tastes as well. There are different religions, ethnicities and cultures that join together at Penang and so do the foods. Penang street food is famous across the borders. One thing that I found exceptional with the restaurants, cafes and hotels is the taste and almost every option was great. And guess what- as an Indian I found high-quality food here way cheaper than back home.
It’s an island city hence easy access to the beaches, rich cultural heritage and is identified as a UNESCO heritage city, beautiful mountains, Buddisht temples, great shopping experience, very modern in its outlook and great food- all this and the vibe makes Penang one of my favourite SE Asian cities.
I haven’t gone wrong trying any food here, but I’ll try to call out some of my favourites and must try while you’re in the city.
Char Koay Teow
This can be called the national food of Malaysia. Fried Kway Teow is another name given to this dish. The fresh and lively ingredients with their entire aroma are the specifications of this dish just make it my top favorite. Kaoy teow is very famous and easily available in street food stalls and high end restaurants alike. My favorite variety was the Sea Food Char Kaoy Teow with duck eggs.
Penang Assam Laksa
Laksa is a very popular SE Asian dish and you get different versions across the region. Whether you’re in Singapore, Hilly areas of India or Malaysia- Laksa is a staple diet for the locals. I have had it in all of these countries but this is the signature dish of Penang, filled with the richness of spices and tastes of sardines and prawns. The lemongrass, chili and tamarind make the wholesome taste even better. I found it quite hard to brace the power of tamarind. First spoon was harder, the second was hard, third one softer and keep it going till you acquire its taste. You have options to enjoy the yellow noodles or the white whatever you prefer.
Penang Rojak was recommended by one of my Malaysian friends and I found it awesome in both taste and richness. There is a variety you would experience with an informal mixture. I love flavours of this dish and the peanut sauce serves a great taste. It’s very different from anything you’ve tried before!
Without adding Curry Mee, I can’t find myself doing justice with the memories of Penang. This is the most popular street food where every stall offers its own version of this hugely popular dish. Where ever you enjoy this from, it gives the taste you would never forget. You can eat the curry with noodles, rice or by itself.
Raw Mango & Papaya Salad with Avocado Shake
This is a tangy but yummy salad prepared with raw mango and papaya spiced with local spices. And if you can get yourself some thick avocado shake, this can be a meal in itself. It is delicious to say the least. Although, this is not a signature Penang dish and available in many other regions, the spices and flavours will make you want more of this
Deep fried Cencaru Fish
You are mostly going to find the deep-fried Hard-scaled Cencaru fish with sambal inserted through slits at the street food stalls.
Tom Yum hot Pot
Although, this is a thai delicacy, I’ve chanced upon some of the yummiest Tom Yum hotpots while in Penang. If you’re a Tomyum fan, give it a go!
Red Ruby Dessert (Tub Tim Krob)
Time for some yummy dessert! Tub Tim Krob is Penangs famous dessert that is made of red dried water chestnuts, jackfruit and coconut milk with ice. It is very refreshing and absolutely delicious. Even if you are not the Dessert types, I’d suggest youTom Y give this a go.
Hope you enjoy your stay in Penang and enjoy the amazing food this city has to offer like I do. Do post your thoughts in the comments section below on your take on Penangs must try food.
To learn more about Aditi Chauhan, please visit her website Wandering Passport