HELLOOOO! Friends and readers who have been following me closely on my social media platforms, Facebook, Instagram and Dayre, would know that I went on a short trip to Penang with misterchewy and Little misschewy earlier this month. While we were there, we ate our way around Penang and I’m happy to announce that we managed to compile our very own Guide to Top 8 Must Try Food in Penang! There exists a few variations of “must eat food in Penang” lists, so it is inevitable that there will be some overlaps in what has been recommended. The last time I did a Malacca food guide back in end 2013 when I was still pregnant, it was quite well-received, so I thought I would come up with another one now as I always find joy in sharing good eats with everyone! 😉
1. Sister Yao’s Char Koay Kak @ Macalister Lane
Char Koay Kak is actually fried radish cake but in Singapore, we call it Chai Tow Kueh. The Eoh sisters’ roadside stall which is located somewhere outside Seow Fong Lye Cafe along Macalister Lane has been around for more than 40 years. They took over their father’s helm about 30 years ago and nothing much has changed, except that in order to cater to the increasing numbers of somewhat health-conscious customers, pure lard is no longer used as the base frying oil for their Char Koay Kak. Instead, the oil used is mixed with vegetable oil.
I stood by watching auntie prepare my plate of Char Koay Kak. She made it seem pretty effortless but surely, it requires a great deal of skill to fry such a large wok of rice cake!
The hubs and I shared the medium sized Char Koay Kak. Fried in thick black soy sauce, the other essential ingredients are chye poh (preserved radish), bean sprouts and eggs. We caught a whiff of the aromatic Char Koay Kak which further whetted our appetites. To our surprise, the fried rice cakes were only coated with a very thin layer of grease which is good news for our cholesterol levels.
I guess we are too used to eating fried carrot cake that has been chopped up into fat little cubes. The rice cakes here are sliced slightly thin and elongated, which somehow makes it more substantial to chew on. On the overall, the Char Koay Kak tasted mildly sweet on top of being savory and was also a little spicy. Love the added crunchiness from the bean sprouts and bits of chye poh which also contributed to the subtle hints of saltiness. We washed it all down with a cup of Teh O and it was definitely a shiok breakfast for us.
Address: 94C Macalister Lane, Georgetown, 11400 Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
Opening Hours: 7am – 1pm daily
2. Famous Penang Road Assam Laksa @ Joo Hooi Cafe
What is a trip to Penang without Assam Laksa? You know, from the moment we confirmed our trip to Penang, I just couldn’t stop thinking about Assam Laksa. I was tempted to satisfy my major craving in Singapore but decided to settle for the real deal at Joo Hooi Cafe along Penang Road. Without a doubt, we have made the right choice as Joo Hooi Cafe was packed with a mix of locals and tourists slurping up bowls of piping hot Assam Laksa. That in itself is an affirmation that the Assam Laksa is so good that it is highly sought after.
I noticed that the Famous Penang Road Assam Laksa is slightly watered down which is great for me because as someone who likes to drink her laksa gravy, I would want my Assam Laksa to not be overly thick and rich. This one has just the right amount of thickness and consistency. Every mouthful teases the taste buds with its spiciness and piquant tanginess. Mackerel fish and tamarind juice have also been added, which results in a very flavourful broth. One bowl of Assam Laksa is simply not enough!
Address: 475 Jalan Penang, 10000 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Opening Hours: 11.30am – 5pm daily
3. Penang Road Famous Teochew Cendol @ Lebuh Keng Kwee
Head outside Joo Hooi Cafe after you are done with your Assam Laksa! Here, you can find one of Penang’s best Cendol – Penang Road Famous Teochew Cendol!
There is always a long queue for their Cendol but not to worry, the queue moves very quickly and before you know it, you will be huddling together with the rest, and drinking from your bowl of deliciously sweet Cendol.
What fantastic way to beat the heat! Everyone looked blissful slurping up mouthfuls of green pandan-flavored jelly and red kidney beans, mixed in a sweet concoction of coconut milk and gula melaka. I wish that more gula melaka could be added to make it a little sweeter though but that’s just a personal preference.
Address: 27 – 29 Lebuh Keng Kwee, 10100 Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
Opening Hours: Mon to Fri 10.30am – 7pm
Sat to Sun 10am – 7.30pm
4. Tiger Char Koay Teow (老虎炒粿条) @ Ping Hooi Coffee Shop
There is much debate online about the best Char Koay Teow in Penang but one that consistently shows up on the list is Tiger Char Koay Teow along Carnarvon Street.
This is not Ah Hor (Tiger in Hokkien) but close enough. He is the grandson belonging to the first generation, who took over the reins from his father almost 20 years ago. Over the years, he earned the support from loyal customers and Ping Hooi Coffee Shop is always packed to the brim.
We decided to try the famous Char Koay Teow with duck eggs. The rice noodles were thin and springy, while the entire dish had enough wok hei and the right amount of char. It was indeed a good move to add duck eggs as it gave the Char Koay Teow a delightful creaminess. We only found about two to three large prawns in our plate of Char Koay Teow, so if you want more prawns, remember to inform the chef about it!
Address: 179 Carnavon Street, 10300, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
Opening Hours: 8am – 2.30pm daily
5. Pitt Street Koay Teow Th’ng (椰腳粿條湯) @ Carnarvon Street
Carnarvon Street is littered with plenty of eateries but one that should not be missed is Pitt Street Koay Teow Th’ng. Trust me, it is so popular that even though they officially close at 4pm, they usually sell out fast. We reached there around 2pm on a Saturday but saw that their helper was busy washing bowls. The lady boss told us that it’s normal for them to close way before 4pm, so it’s better for us to return the next day before 1pm! Business is so good that they have extended their operating hours. Now, they open as early as 8am and no longer close on Sundays!
We went back early the next day and heaved a sigh of relief to see that the stall was opened. Had a chance to speak to the lady boss again, who was extremely chatty. She confirmed that they also operate on Sundays now because they have many customers including tourists who travel all the way there for a taste of their famous fish balls. These fish balls are extraordinary because they are made using eel meat. I asked the lady boss if these fish balls are handmade and she replied that they used to, but now they have a machine to do it because they cannot handle rolling and kneading the fish balls and ensuring that each and every one of them maintains the same standard and quality. She is confident that the machine can do an equally good job and that nobody would be able to tell the difference.
While I have not had the opportunity to try their handmade fish balls to make a comparison, I must say that these fish balls made from eel were full of bite and it was pure satisfaction biting into them. The texture of the fish balls is neither springy or bouncy, but is slightly similar to that of a Fuzhou fish ball, doughy but more delicate. We give our stamp of approval!
The lady boss urged us to try their homemade chili which is made using chopped garlic, lime juice and soy sauce. There is indeed something unique about their chili which is very refreshing and acts as a perfect complement to the Kway Teow Thng.
Did we mention that their Kway Teow is silky smooth which glides down the throat?
Pitt Street’s pork slices were surprisingly lean and tender, which makes chewing easy. The lady boss revealed that that they only use good quality pork fillets. She also added that most of Pitt Street’s customers order their Kway Teow Thng, but she strongly recommends their Kway Teow Dry too because they only use top grade crispy fried shallots oil. We will try that next time!
Address: 183 Carnarvon Street, 10100, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
Opening Hours: 9am – 4pm (Closed on Mondays)
6. Kim Leng Loh Mee @ Joo Huat Restaurant
We heard good things about Kim Leng Loh Mee and travelled out to Jelutong area to try it for ourselves. Apparently, this stall became famous after it was featured in Axian’s (Jason Yeoh) food show many years ago. He is Malaysia’s popular TV producer cum host, who is also a self-proclaimed foodie.
Even before tucking into our bowl of Loh Mee, we knew it was going to be something great. Our medium sized Loh Mee was served with a chockful of ingredients such as slices of barbecued pork, pig intestines, egg, bean sprouts and chicken feet!
Apart from the generous assortment of ingredients, the flavorful gravy had been cooked with pork rib stock, five-spice powder and starched with egg white. The gravy was neither too watery nor gooey; it was of the right consistency for us to be able to enjoy our combination of yellow noodles and beehoon.
Address: 336-G1 Lintang Slim, off Jalan Perak
Opening Hours: 7am – 4pm (Closed on Thursdays)
7. Kimberley Street Duck Koay Chap @ Restoran Kimberly
We heard that Kimberley Street is a food haven and that there is simply too much to eat there but if you are hard pressed for time like us, just go and try Kimberley Street Duck Koay Chap! Confirm no regrets. It is so good that upon the first mouthful, the hubs declared, “Let’s eat this again tomorrow!”
This shot was captured after we were done eating. Kimberley Street Duck Koay Chap only operates in the evening from 6.30pm onwards. Since we were just around the area, we decided to pop by and see if it was open at around 5.30pm. Much to our excitement, it was! Nobody was in the queue so we didn’t have to wait very long for our bowl of Duck Koay Chap.
Cabinet full of duck and other ingredients such as pig innards that you can have with your Koay Chap. Apart from Koay Chap, there is also a choice of rice or porridge.
For the past 30 plus years, everything is prepared in-house, from the koay chap to the stewed duck and even the chili sauce. Duck meat is stewed together with other duck parts such as the wings, necks and gizzards, as well as pig innards. The pot is then continuously stirred and left to stew for hours, ensuring that the stew penetrates the meat.
Alas, the shreds of stewed duck proved to be full of depth and flavor, while the texture of the duck meat was very juicy. The broth is also worth a mention, for it was packed with all the juices from the duck meat and the oomph it brought is simply unforgettable.
Unlike the Koay Chap that we are so used to seeing in Singapore, the ones served here are slightly thicker and rolled up. I certainly prefer this as it is firmer, smoother and has a nice chewy texture.
Address: 137 Lebuh Kimberley, 10100 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Open hours: 6:30 pm – 11:30 pm (closed on Thursday)
8. Mama-Miya Coconut Ice Cream @ Lebuh Pantai
While we were combing Georgetown for its famous street art, we passed by a stall selling coconut ice cream and milkshake. There was a long queue but we decided to join in anyway. Mama-Miya Coconut Ice Cream is one of the F&B business which received a recommendation award at the Penang Hawker and Entrepreneur Festival 2015. Sounds promising so must support!
On the first day we had coconut milkshake which was quite thick but a bit too sweet. We decided to return the following day to try their coconut ice cream which comes with a cup of coconut water. Not only is their coconut ice cream adorned with corn and nata de coco, there’s also pandan flavored glutinous rice!
We have come to the end of our Guide to Top 8 Must Try Food in Penang! This list is by no means exhaustive and hopefully we will get a chance to visit Penang again to discover more yummy food!
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