I’ve always love Penang since my first visit. So much that I actually chose to do my internship in Penang five years ago instead of the comfort of my hometown. If that’s not enough to show my love for the island – I’m also in love with a man whose born and bred in Penang. 🙂 There’s just something about the island – maybe it’s the vibe or maybe it’s just the endless installment of scrumptious food on all my visits.
I’ve been wanting to write this post for the longest time. All the food reviews of Penang has always been leaning towards the common food as listed on my title. Don’t get me wrong – they are all really very good. But the great food is beyond that. There’s a lot more good food that Penang offers!
Here’s a list that I compiled from my numerous visits in Penang:
1. Pulau Tikus Lok Lok
I’d say this is probably the most underrated food in Penang that hardly made it to the list of food one should not missed when in Penang.
Here you’ll find a table spread of an assortment of cooked and uncooked ingredients and vegetables skewered on sticks. The most extensive selection of all lok lok I’ve been. The cream of the cake is the dipping sauce! There’s six types, all home made and just tasting it you’ll know the ingredients used are carefully selected. Definitely not your normal chili or rojak sauce you get at the regular lok lok joint. Even if you don’t like lok-lok, I’ll suggest coming just to taste the awesome dipping sauce!
Sharing table is common here if you come in small groups. If you find that uncomfortable i’d suggest going there earlier. Once I shared a table with a couple who was so obviously in a “forbidden relationship” and it felt so uneasy! Also because the boiling pot of water is communal you might want to give this place a miss if you have an OCD for hygiene.
There’s actually two stalls there – one on the corner left and another in the middle. I’ve never tried the one in the middle as I really like the corner one that I frequent. Rumors had it that both stalls are actually the same but the man who started the business had two wife. 😛
Jalan Pasar, Pulau Tikus, 10350 Georgetown, Penang.
Open daily from 4 PM to 11 PM.
2. Bangkok Lane Mee Goreng Sotong
With a history of more than 80 years, you’ll be sure that the plate of noodles serve on the table is a plate of goodness.
The noodles are skillfully fried in a big wok with potatoes, crispy cuttlefish together with their legendary signature spicy-sweet red sauce . Spot on flavors! The owner pride in using only the freshest natural ingredients that are prepared daily and the plate of delicious fried noodles is an evidence to that claim. It isn’t a dish that will sweep your feet off but one that i’d say very pleasing to the taste buds. Something you can easily have a few times a week! Service is also interestingly swift despite the endless stream of customers. Uncle who manned the stall speaks Hokkien like any other native Penangite so don’t bother ordering in other language if you can speak Hokkien.
Bangkok Lane Mee Goreng (Seng Lee Cafe)
270, Jalan Burma
10350 Georgetown, Penang
Opening hours: 8 AM – 6 PM, Everyday.
3. Jalan Transfer Roti Canai
Having not blessed with a good metabolism rate, I try to avoid roti canai as much as I can. It’s a completely different case when it comes to the one in Jalan Transfer. It’s so good that I find it almost like a sin if I come to Penang and leave without making a visit here. The roti canai here is crispy thin, flaky and dipping into the curry kuah is undoubtly a beautiful affair that makes you goes MMmmmm.
I happened to watch them appearing on See Toh’s programme in AFC before and apparently the “founder” was originally from India. Hence the recipe used in their curry is slightly different to what we normally have. I’ve never been to India to judge the difference but i’d say the one here is heavy with its spices especially curry powder. Many think their popularity derived from the curry and not the roti but i’d say both complements each other as a great dish.
OH, and do order their teh tarik here too!
56, Jalan Transfer
Georgetown, 10050 Penang.
Open daily from 6.30 AM – 1 PM & 3.30 PM TO 7 PM
4. Sky Hotel Char Siew
I’ve always been a fan of anything meat but i’d say Char Siew is one of my least favorite version of cooked meat and other than the one here, I almost never bother to eat Char Siew at all.
The meat here is roasted to perfection – complete with a coating of caramelized sugary fat that melts in your mouth at every bite. Neither too lean nor too fat. I don’t even know how to explain how good this is in culinary term …literally an explosion of the most beautiful fireworks of flavors!
They are sold out sometimes as early as 12.30 PM so do make your way there early to avoid disappointment.
Sky Hotel Char Siew Rice,
Chulia Street off Jalan Masjid,
Opening Hours : 11.30 AM – 2.30 PM
Monday to Saturday
5. Continental Bakery Egg Tart
The first few days when I started my internship years ago, I overheard my colleagues mentioning about this out-of-the-world egg tarts that they just bought. I was still very shy then so I didn’t dare to ask. A little over the time though, when I’ve build rapport with them one of them brought me there!
Since then, this has been the best egg tart in my books. There’s this really special vanilla aroma in their egg custard that makes it different from others. I gotta admit though that the quality of the pastry has deteriorate a little as compared to the first time I had it but their egg custard is still unbeatable. You can also get fresh home-made quality pastries and bread here.
33, Nagore Road,
Open daily from 10 AM – 7 PM
6. Uncle’s Burger
Mention street burger and every Malaysian would picture a sloppy, sauce-flooded burger. Uncle’s burger though is the total opposite of that. Instead of spamming the burger with chili sauce, Uncle Wong would generously flood his signature pan fry caramelized onions and cabbage. I usually don’t like cooked onions but he managed to make it so tasty that I actually want a lot of it!
Eating the burger is also not a messy affair – there is no need to quickly run and grab a piece of serviette to wipe that dripping sauce. I’ve also read that their patties are specially ordered from a shop so it won’t taste like your regular Malaysian street burger.
There’s always a queue (you can even spot Caucasians queuing up for it!) on most business days so be prepared to spare at least 15-20 minutes of waiting time.
Jalan Sungai Kelian
11200 Tanjung Bungah Penang
Open daily from 7 PM – 11 PM
(Spot the mini lorry park at hillside)
7. Dato Keramat Chicken Rice
Others sing praises for Ipoh Chicken Rice but I’d say it’s nothing like like what they have here. Not even close. Maybe it’s my love for the place that made me have a bias judgement but one thing I know is that I always make sure I allocate a little space in my stomach for this in every visit.
The wonders of this dish is not really in the poached chicken but more on the delicious big bowl of complimentary “Chai Buey Thng”. The preserved vegetables soup are boiled in hours using stock made of roasted duck and chicken. It has all the flavors that will tinge your taste buds – salty, spicy and sour! Strangely, only Penang does this soup best. Tasted a lot elsewhere but nothing come close. The fragrant oily rice here is really good too.
Just give me that bowl of soup and a plate of rice, you’ll make my stomach happy already. 🙂
Unfortunately I couldn’t find the exact address for this place but it’s the corner coffee shop that is directly opposite Ah Leng Char Kueh Tiau, along Convent Dato Keramat.
8. “Guleng Peng”
This drink is a concoction of grenadine syrup, evaporated milk and shaved ice – very much like a Chinese Version of Air Bandung. Three very humble ingredient but makes a great thirst quencher, especially with the hot and humid weather of the island. I’ve never seen this sold anywhere outside Penang but you can get this in almost every Chinese coffee shop in Penang. My favorite though is the one in New Lane.
New Lane off Jalan Macalister,
10040 Georgetown, Penang
(Look for Sunway Georgetown Hotel)
Open daily from 5.00 PM – 11.00 PM
With all the food options though, I still think one should not leave Penang without savoring Char Kueh Tiau.
I don’t know how they do it – but it’s just so scrumptiously good in Penang. My all time favorite is Ah Leng Char Kueh Tiau in Dato Keramat.