As a state, Penang may be small, but food-wise, it packs a punch, topping most Malaysians’ list of favorite food havens. From traditional kopitiams to streetside stalls, Penang has ‘em all. It’s tough to keep anything a secret from fellow food-obsessed Malaysians, so don’t be surprised if you encounter a queue/crowd when you visit!
Without further ado, here are the top street food stops you should add to your itinerary (as recommended by Aina and Abam Bocey):
1. Bee Hwa Cafe
Char Kuey Teow (fondly referred to as “CKT”) is synonymous with Penang – you’ll find it at most local hawker stalls and eateries. However, Bee Hwa Cafe’s take on the well-loved dish is touted by Aina as “The Best Halal Char Kuey Teow in Town”. So you know you’ve got to give this one a try.
Order a plate of the special CKT, and you’ll get crabsticks and fishballs added to it. Yummy!
2. A1 Buah Berangan
In the mood for a snack? Just down the road from Bee Hwa Cafe on Jalan Penang is A1 Buah Berangan (roasted chestnuts). The uncle running the small cart has been at it for the past 15 years, and the moment you crack open a chestnut and pop one into your mouth, you’ll know why this particular cart has been around so long.
3. Hameed Pata Mee Sotong
Located at Fort Cornwallis Food Court in Esplanade Park, Hameed Pata Mee Sotong serves up platefuls of steaming hot mee sotong, a spicy noodle dish doused in cuttlefish sambal. So if you like something with a bit of a kick, order a small plate of the mee sotong for RM5 or upsize it to a bigger serving, which costs RM7.
Wash it down with a refreshing, cold glass of coconut shake, which is also available at the food court. Blended with homemade coconut ice cream, the creamy and sweet beverage is the perfect accompaniment to your mee sotong.
4. Apom Balik
Sitting in front of the post office on Lebuh Downing is a popular stall selling apam balik – the griddle pancakes are a favorite street snack that’s best eaten piping hot.
The cart is open from 12pm – 6pm every day, where you can order additional fillings besides the usual finely ground roasted peanuts and creamed corn, such as peanut butter or chocolate.
5. Street Grill Burger Bakar
Cheese and meat lovers from across the island and beyond are drawn to this street stall on Jalan Sungai Pinang, which offers homemade chargrilled burgers overflowing with melted mozzarella cheese and a special sauce.
It’s sooooo good, that customers are willing to wait up to an hour to sink their teeth into this burger. Not one for beef burgers? They sizzle up chicken burgers as well. The stall is open from 6.30pm – 12am, but we recommend that you head there early before the crowd gathers.
6. Deen Maju
You can’t say you’ve eaten the best of Penang’s food without having tried nasi kandar, so head to Jalan Gurdwara for one of the island’s best nasi kandar shops.
Choose from a wide array of dishes to eat with your rice, from the flavorful fish roe curry to the crunchy 15-spice fried chicken, which are both specialties at Deen Maju.
7. Argyll Road Roti Canai
Dating back to 1955, Argyll Road Roti Canai is one of George Town’s oldest eateries. From its beginnings as a tiny street stall, it has since expanded to a proper shophouse.
The Malaysian breakfast staple is served drenched in a curry of your choice, such as chicken, beef or mutton. You can even order a sunny-side up egg to top your roti. So start your day off on the right foot by tucking in to a filling breakfast here.
8. Nasi Melayu Lidiana
Tucked in the Tanjung Bungah Food Court is this homely eatery, which has been in operation for over 40 years. You’ll be spoiled for choice as you can pick from a wide range of dishes to pile on your plate of rice.
The chicken cooked in soy sauce (ayam kicap) is a crowd-pleaser, while the sambal-stuffed grilled local herring (ikan terubuk) left Aina and Abam Bocey wanting more.
9. Kambing Bakaq Tuk Hang
Located on the corner of Hilir Paya Terubong in Relau, Kambing Bakaq Tuk Hang specializes in fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth grilled lamb. Dunk a chunk of their honey-glazed lamb in the special homemade BBQ sauce for the best experience.
Each portion of lamb costs RM12 (small), RM15 (medium) and RM20 (large).
If you’re more into chicken, you can also order chicken from e’Corner, the restaurant next door that has some of the best grilled chicken around. They also have a pretty good take on pecel ayam.
10. Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul
After a long day walking around George Town under the hot sun, there’s nothing better than downing a bowl of icy, sweet cendol. If that’s what you’re after, then make a beeline for Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul, located on Keng Kwee Street.
Operating since 1937, this family-run business is currently overseen by the third generation, which still follows the traditional recipe of their ancestors and uses fresh ingredients, from the coconut milk to the red bean and gula melaka. It’s so good, you might want to order more than one bowl!
11. Project Nasi Lemak Box
Sure, you’re used to the usual nasi lemak, packed into a banana leaf and topped with sambal and hard-boiled egg. But if you’re looking for a unique take on Malaysia’s beloved national dish, then check out Project Nasi Lemak Box.
Sitting at Padang Kota Lama, it’s one of the new kids on the block compared to many of the veterans on this list. They use the natural dye from butterfly pea flower to give their nasi lemak a pretty purple-blue color, similar to nasi kerabu. Choose from mouth-watering sides such as fried chicken, fried fish and assam prawns, or you can even switch out the rice for fried noodles.
For a true high-end indulgence, order the nasi lemak lobster (RM79), served with a succulent lobster smothered in cheese and blow-torched to crispy perfection.
Have we whetted your appetite yet? Stick around for more episodes – our next stop is the laid-back island paradise of Langkawi, where Aina will be joined by Rhys Williams.
How well do you really know Malaysia? Test your knowledge and uncover a different side of the country with our “Traveloka Travel Guide” video series. In each episode, we list the crème de la crème of things to see and do in Malaysia’s top destinations.