I didn’t have much expectations of Penang because hey, how much better can this little town be as compared to Kuala Lumpur or even Johor Bahru? I was so wrong. My friend who has been to Penang a thousand times did the homework for us and we were so impressed that we made plans to come back again! So, here’s the ultimate list of food from that you MUST have in Penang:
#1. Chuan Yee Charcoal Steamboat
I’m not a steamboat person but I love this so much that I googled for similar steamboats in Singapore! Unfortunately I couldn’t find any so this is definitely my must-have when I return to Penang! The soup is refreshingly sweet and the ingredients (fish slices and tofu) are so fresh that you can’t stop yourself from helping yourself to a n-th serving.
If you order the fish steamboat set, it comes with this plate of fried fish that is so good even on its own! I didn’t want to dip it into the soup at all because it takes away the crispiness which I love. You can also order other handmade dishes (my friends love the dumplings) from their ala-carte list. We ordered so much but guess what? It was less than RM100 for the 4 of us.
Address: Jalan Kek Chuan, 10400 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Hours: 6PM – 11PM, Closed on Wed
#2. Kheng Pin Cafe
This kopitiam is super crowded and you know this is good when almost table has a plate of Loh Bak on them. I thought “Loh Bak” meant braised meat so I was pleasantly surprised to see that it’s fried! So basically, it’s wu xiang (fried fritters) with a bowl of braised sauce for you to dip in.
It’s probably the ingredients and the fact that it’s freshly fried – we finished the plate of fried goodness in no time! If your stomach is still capable, do give the other stalls a try! Especially the Fried Kuay Teow and Hainanese Chicken Rice 😉
Address: 20, 16, Jalan Penang, George Town
Hours: 7am – 2pm, Closed on Mon
#3. Li Er Cafe
If you are a fan of nonya cakes, then you MUST NOT miss this pretty little cafe selling these dainty nonya kuehs in bite size. All their pastries and kuehs are available for take-away in little plastic boxes. Alternatively, you can also choose to dine in and they will place them beautifully on the plate for you #forthegram
We enjoyed the cafe ambience so much (yes, it’s air-conditioned) that we decided to spend a bit more time here. The youtiao is really good (fried on the spot) but we heard that they don’t sell it anymore as of Jul 2019.
Address: 349, Jalan Burma, George Town
Hours: 7.30AM – 4.30PM daily
#4. Pulau Tikus Market
This market is just a stone throw away from Li Er Cafe and it will test the limits of your stomach again. This is a pretty traditional street market and although it isn’t big, there’s plenty to see, buy and of course, EAT.
The crowd’s favourite includes putu mayam (which is made on the spot at the back of a truck), fried carrot cake and the min jiang kueh (pictured). Most of the food stalls are street stalls (so they are quite inconspicuous) so you may miss them if your eyes are on your phone 😉
Address: Jalan Burma, Pulau Tikus, 10350 George Town
Hours: Opens at 7am
#5. Chew Jetty Big Bowl Noodles
While this may not be the best-tasting bowl of noodles you’ve tried in your life, it’s definitely gonna be the biggest bowl of noodles. And to be honest, it is quite tasty but PLEASE share it with your friends! Your trip here will also be well rewarded with the beautiful jetty view right, that’s right in front of the stall.
Address: 62, Pengkalan Weld, George Town
Hours: 9.30AM – 8.30PM (Closed on Wed)
#6. Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul
No one goes to Penang without having a bowl of the famous Teochew Chendol at Penang Road. And of course, have a a picture of that famous wall mural while queuing for the chendol too!
Tip: If you are not a fan of the sun, you can actually walk further down the street for some indoor seats where you can place an order for the same chendol. Not sure if its the teochew style or the sun, but our chendol came to us slightly watery. Still very refreshing but I definitely prefer Malacca’s version. Or perhaps we’ll give other Penang chendol a try next time!
Address: Lebuh Keng Kwee / Penang Road
Hours: 10.30AM – 7PM
#7. Tek Sen Restaurant
Be prepared for a long queue here during regular lunch or dinner hours because this is where even the locals go to! It’s a traditional restaurant (non air-conditioned) with really homely vibes. You can taste the freshness of the ingredients and “wok hey” in every dish. So, even though there’s nothing fanciful about its presentation, this is one restaurant I’ll definitely return to!
Prices are really reasonable too! Most dishes are under RM20 😉
Address: 18, Lebuh Carnarvon, George Town
Hours: 12-2.30PM, 6-8.30PM (Closed on Tuesday)
#8. Kebaya Dining Room
As you will probably tell from the table set-up, this restaurant is in a different price range but it’s still affordable! They only serve set menus here so it’s perfect for a special occasion or if you are just in the mood to treat yourself to a some exquisite nonya dishes in an intimate setting.
Each set menu comes with with an appetiser, main course, vegetable and dessert at just RM130 per person. If you are coming here in a group, we highly recommend that you order different dishes so all of you can share! The serving is more than enough for 4. There’s a bit of a fusion as there was a ban xeo dish so trust us when we say this isn’t just any other nonya restaurant 🙂
Service is really awesome as well because each server really pay close attention to every table. Our tea were always topped up without having us to ask for it and they made sure to check our dietary requirements before placing any order. PS: And their desserts are out of this world too.
Address: 2-16 Lorong Stewart, George Town (Situated in Seven Terraces heritage hotel)
Hours: 2 dinner seatings only; 6pm and 8pm
#9. Tai Tong Restaurant
Craving for traditional dim sum (think aunties pushing carts of dim sum past your table)? There’s plenty of options in Penang but we picked Tai Tong Restaurant because it’s endorsed by locals even! It opens at 6AM so this is the perfect breakfast spot if you have to catch an early flight too.
You’ll be spoilt for choice as there are plenty of dim sum options (from fried to steam) but you may have to wait awhile for the hot favorites. We waited a while for our Liu Sha Bao (流沙包) but it was super worth it. The Har Gow and Chee Cheong Fun were really good too and were served hot. Definitely a good break from the street food!
Address: 45, Lebuh Cintra, George Town
Bookmark this page for more updates on Penang’s food trail as we are definitely gonna be hunting down more hidden gem here! Need more reasons to visit Penang? Here are 5 non-food related but very good reasons for you to book that air ticket to Penang right now.