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A non-stop weekend of eating in Penang: foodie paradise

The last time I spent a long weekend in Penang, it felt like all I was doing was eating my way through the state in my 3 days there with my friend A. From the moment we checked into our room right till we boarded the plane for home, we just ate and ate and ate. Here’s my recommendation on things to eat in Penang and where to find them.

We tried to sample as much of Penang’s famous street food as we could, but since it was just the two of us we had to miss out on many dishes due to sheer limited stomach capacity. Besides the usual Malaysian cuisine, we also tried some non-typical grub as well with mixed results.

As with the street art, there’s an extensive map and guide to food in Penang that you can pick up at the airport, but Karen from our guesthouse Mango Tree Place gave us their guide to food and amenities around the area as well, so here’s what we ate and where you can find it.


Penang Food - Apong

1 pc of Apong at 0.50 RM (apparently it used to be 0.30 RM only!)

Apong is a little pancake-like food – egg, flour, coconut milk and some banana and corn bits – Uncle Guan, as the store is named for, is preparing several Apong in the picture above. He’s apparently been operating out of his little pushcart store since forever along Jalan Burmah, right at the junction of Jalan Phuah Hin Leong where our guesthouse was located, outside Union Primary School. You have to wait patiently for him to be done because it’s all freshly made, and he was a little bit cranky that we only bought 1pc each – most people go away in batches of 10 or more!

Lorong Selamat Hawker Centre

We took a long, sweltering walk down Jalan Burmah and turned off onto Lorong Selamat. Take a walk down the road and you should come to this bunch of pushcart stores all in one place which is Lorong Selamat Hawker Centre [84 Lorong Selamat]. This hawker centre seems to attract some famous people because there were a whole bunch of photos up on the wall. We sat inside Kedai Kopi Dan Ice Kacang and ordered a whole bunch of food:

Penang Food - Lorong Selamat Hawker Centre

Lorong Selamat Hawker Centre – there’s a whole bunch of food here we didn’t have stomach space to try!


Penang Food - Char Koay Teow

Char Koay Teow is flat rice noodles fried in a wok with egg, beansprouts (yuck, A nicely picked them out for me), prawns and Chinese sausage

I thought this was that famous one with the lady in the red hat who had a big attitude that everyone kept talking about, but apparently, there is more than one Char Koay Teow shops here. KTG is still quite a famous name, and while the noodles weren’t that cheap (8.50RM for a medium portion), they were really quite good and my favourite dish of that lunch – very tasty and just the right amount of spiciness without being too crazy hot.


Penang Food - indian rojak

Rojak is a term we often use in Singapore to describe something that’s all jumbled together, and indeed underneath that thick sauce you can’t quite tell that it actually consists of about 5-6 different types of fruits

You might be familiar with Indian Rojak, but this is not quite the same thing. In my head, I call this Chinese rojak because you usually get Chinese folk selling it, but more accurately, it’s a fruit rojak where various slices of fruits are coated with a thick sweet sauce and chopped peanuts. For 6 RM it was quite a sizeable dish.


Penang Food - Chee Cheong Fun

Chee Cheong Fun literally translates into Pig Intestine Powder! This plate cost us 3.30 RM

Chee Cheong Fun can be done several ways – this Penang-style Chee Cheong Fun takes thin rice sheets and rolls them up with a sweet and spicy prawn paste, and covered with a thick sweet sauce and sesame seeds. I personally like the Hong Kong style best, with super-thin rice sheets and char siew or prawns – not a fan of the weird sweetness of this style!


Penang Food - Ice Kachang

mmh yummy, I’m feeling happy chills just looking at this pic

We ordered this after our 3 dishes and it was SUCH a relief wolfing down this cold dessert on a hot day. Ice Kacang is basically a pile of shaved ice covered with syrup, condensed milk and gula melaka (this one came with a scoop of vanilla ice cream as well) and other ingredients inside the bowl include red bean and corn.

We walked around the George Town area later on and ended up in a cafe called The Dine. Not going to review the place because I was less than impressed by their poor service. Our kahlua brownie was so-so, but the worst part was that they ran out of ice or couldn’t make cold drinks for some reason, and then NEVER TOLD US so we were left waiting and wondering how come our drinks never arrived. Poor form indeed.

Northam Beach Cafe

We headed back to the guesthouse, and later that evening when we had dinner, we walked towards Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah instead and ended up in Northam Beach Cafe [58 Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, 6-11pm daily but closed on Tues], a hawker centre located right on Penang’s coast with a pretty nice view of the sea. This time I did the ordering and here’s what we ended up with:

Penang Food - Northam Beach Cafe

Entrance to Northam Beach Cafe along Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah – it’s a little walk in towards the sea

Penang Food - Northam Beach Cafe View

View of the Penang coastline from Northam Beach Cafe

Penang Food - Mee Udang and Prawn Mee Stalls

Mee Udang and Hokkien Prawn Mee stalls – skipped the Sarawak Kolo mee


Penang Food - Mee Udang

The presentation was really kinda stylish for street food! 8.50 RM

This dish of dry noodles is apparently the speciality of the Udang folk. It kinda feels like how an Asian version of spaghetti would be like. Quite ok, nice prawns but the taste gets a little monotonous after a while and can be a bit much for one person to finish on their own.


Penang Food - prawn mee

The Hokkien prawn mee cost 6 RM

Two stalls away from Mee Udang was the Hokkien Prawn Mee store. This version is their standard one and came with small shrimps and pork ribs. You have the option to upgrade some of the ingredients if you pay a little more! Fairly simple noodle soup dish but quite tasty.

Jalan Gurney Hawker Centre

Still feeling peckish, we took a cab ride over to Jalan Gurney Hawker Centre (Anjung Gurney), which is a sprawling area of hawker food stalls. Man, talk about food choice! We weren’t so hungry now so we settled for smaller food. Do take note that some of these tables are owned by specific stalls, so you have to order food or drinks from them if you want to use that table.

Penang Food - Anjung Gurney

The entrance of Anjung Gurney – there are rows of random shops outside the hawker centre


Penang Food - Muah Chee

Penang Food – Muah Chee

Muah Chee is not quite the same as its more popular cousin mochi – it is a sticky glutinous dough that’s rolled in crushed peanut sugar. Quite a yummy snack and surprisingly filling.


Penang Food - Cuttlefish

Penang Food – Cuttlefish

Fried cuttlefish, when done well, can be really addictive and moreish, but this one was just so-so and the sweet sauce not really to my liking.

Beach Street

The next morning we were all ready for more food. First we headed down to Occupy Beach Street, which is a little weekly affair where they close off a portion of Jalan Pantai / Beach Street and fill it with little stalls. Think like a mini fun-fair of sorts, it’s just a small stretch though so you can finish walking it quite quickly.

Penang Food - Occupy Beach Street

Occupy Beach Street – People takeover Jalan Pantai

Penang Food - cotton candy

Nothing that significant, just wanted to show off the pretty flower-shaped cotton candy that we had. One pull and that thing is destroyed though!

This was just something a little gimmicky and fun to eat, though it’s pretty sticky and gets everywhere and tastes… well like cotton candy!

Armenian Street

After that we headed into Georgetown and went street art hunting, and Armenian Street was where we ended up spending a lot of our time:


Penang Food - Ice Ball

Look at the size of that ice ball! We took quite a long time to devour the whole thing

This classic snack was once a mainstay in Singapore but you can’t get it anymore! It’s basically crushed ice shaped in a ball and covered with flavoured syrup which is served up in a little plastic tray and 2 satay sticks, which you slowly rotate and suck on – mine was Sarsi and Ribena flavoured, and a huge relief from the heat. Look for the little 70’s Ice stall at the junction of Lorong Soo Hong and Armenian Street in front of Street Art House.

Penang Food - Ice Ball Making

One person crushes the ice blocks and packs it into rice bowls to get a hemisphere. 2 hemispheres are put together and then the other guys soaks it in your syrup of choice.

China House

We took a detour from Armenian Street and headed to China House along Lebuh Pantai, a refurbished old shophouse which has been converted into a rather hipster eating place and perhaps the longest cafe ever. The food there was decent though it was probably our most expensive meal in Penang (about 99RM including non-alcoholic drinks, main course approx 30+RM), you can get drinks at the bar or pop upstairs to indulge in some art, it’s a nice respite from the sweltering heat.

Penang Food - China House

You wouldn’t think it from the outside, but the inside is really, really long


Penang Food - Basil Chicken Spaghetti

The Pesto Chicken Spaghetti was a bit spicy and the pesto was really strong tasting

Penang Food - Beef Sandwich

The steak and chesse sandwich took some time to come, but when it did, that steak was pretty good stuff

Bali 77 Hawker Centre

We headed to Enso spa later that afternoon, and after that had dinner at the nearby Bali 77 hawker centre along Jalan Burmah.


Penang Food - Fish Porridge

Yummy Sliced Fish Porridge

Nothing particularly revolutionary, but the porridge was tasty and a really huge portion!


Penang Food - Lor Bak Stall

In Singapore, something like this is usually called Yong Tau Fu where you pick your ingredients

Lor Bak is usually referred to as Ngoh Hiang in Singapore, minced meat in soybean skins, but in Penang’s case Lor Bak is just one of the ingredients from a whole selection that you can pick to get deep fried and dip in a sweet sauce to eat.

Penang Food - Lor Bak

There’s cheese sausage, beancurd skin, fried wanton, fishball and fishcake in here (8RM)

Jalan Macalister

Later that night after visiting Kek Lok Si and Penang Bridge, our taxi driver brought us to a hawker centre along Jalan Macalister for a quick supper.

Penang Food - Jalan Macalister Hawker Centre

Penang Food – Jalan Macalister Hawker Centre


Penang Food - Carrot Cake

Char Koay Kak

Char Koay Kak is known as Chai Tow Kuay in Singapore, or Carrot Cake. Rice cakes with radish, beansprouts, prawns, egg and topped off with chilli. You can usually find it in Singapore or Malaysia either doused in dark sauce (black) or not (white). This one was not bad.


Penang Food - Lor Mee

Penang Food – Lor Mee

This noodle dish is distinct because of its ‘lor’ or the dark sauce gravy that the yellow noodles are soaked in. Mix in some fried shallots, ginger and chilli and you have a yummy dish, this one was just okay.

Eastern and Oriental

On our last day, we booked a table at the Eastern and Oriental for the high tea brunch. It’s a place that reminds me of the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. After a whole weekend of hot stuffy hawker centres, being in a nice air-conditioned and quiet dining room was quite the change! The fancy hotel tea it was quite affordable – something like this in Singapore would easily cost 2x the price (65RM per pax inc taxes).

Penang Food - Eastern and Oriental Hotel

Welcome to the Eastern and Oriental!

Penang Food - Eastern and Oriental View

Coastline view from the back of Eastern and Oriental

Penang Food - High Tea at Eastern and Oriental

Little sandwiches, cakes and scones are surprisingly filling when you wash it down with a pot of tea

Souvenirs: MyKuali

And we brought a little bit of Penang with us – MyKuali Penang White Curry Mee is a very popular souvenir for tourists who pack back entire cartons of it because we can’t get the freshly cooked ones readily. They tend to be sold out at supermarkets so grab yours if you see them, or get them at smaller shops who have very enterprisingly stocked them and marked up the prices (usually 6.90RM, we bought ours at 8RM)!

Penang Food - MyKuali White Curry Mee

Penang Food – MyKuali White Curry Mee

As you can see, there’s a lot more food that I haven’t eaten yet: Penang laksa, koay teow tng, curry mee, chendol… it just means I need to go back to Penang again sometime!

See all my Penang posts here, or why not check out other spots in Malaysia as well?


Saturday 10th of January 2015

Great post Jaclynn! Do check out our post on 13 Penang Foods that You Must Try!

Happy Travels Everyone!



Friday 27th of June 2014

Hi Jaclynn! Great food-ful post you have there! :D Feeling hungry already! Would like to hear from you your opinion on Mango Tree Place, the guesthouse you stayed at. Thank you babe! :D

Jaclynn Seah

Friday 27th of June 2014

Hi Yvonne, thanks for dropping by! Mango Tree Place is an excellent place to stay at - I did up a review post here. It might not be that cheap, but it really is worth the money if you want a nice place that's quiet. You are a little out of the way from main George Town though, so be prepared to have a driver or take cabs to get to and from the hotel, but other than that it's a great place.


Wednesday 9th of April 2014

Why did I visit your blog with an empty stomach? :| Nice photos! :D

I haven't been to Penang. Need to visit Malaysia again this year!

Jaclynn Seah

Wednesday 9th of April 2014

I know I got really hungry just writing that post >_< Even though Malaysia is technically just next door for me, still a lot of places I haven't visited there too!


Tuesday 8th of April 2014

What a wonderful blog! Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I spent 24 hours in Penang a few years ago and agree with you entirely - it's one of the best places in the world to just..well, eat!!! I look forward to reading more from you :)

Jaclynn Seah

Tuesday 8th of April 2014

Thank you Rachel :) I had a hard time trying to decide what my favourite Penang food was... I think the Char Koay Teow was probably the best for me, but do you have one? :)