The streets of Penang city (especially Georgetown) are renowned as a food paradise mainly due to its diversity in ethnicity, culture and religion. Its multi-ethnicity brings forth such celebrated variety in Penang’s street and hawker food. There is no lack of food options here, and it is difficult to find a store that falls short of a rating lower than “delicious”.
To assist your next food hunt in Penang, we scoured every nook and cranny of Penang streets to find the 15 best local streerot foods you must try.
1. Char Kway Teow
A familiar dish to Singaporeans,. Char Kway Teow is a national favourite in both Malaysia and Singapore. It’s bursting with wok hei and filled with comforting ingredients like lap cheong, pork lard and prawns. And if you’re willing to spend a few extra Ringgit, go for the duck egg char kway teow (RM11) at Ah Leng Char Koay Teow for a richer and creamier texture.
The yolk of the duck eggs gave the noodles a more vibrant orange colour and overall elevated an already decadent plate of noodles. Those of you who enjoy a decent-sized prawn will be thrilled at the sight of the two jumbo ones prawns on the plate.
343, Jalan Dato Keramat, George Town, 10150 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
+6012 498 3962
Thu to Tue: 10.30am – 4pm
Closed on Wed
2. Koay Teow Th’ng
There’s nothing more comforting than a bowl of koay teow th’ng especially when it rains. And the best place to get a bowl of Koay Teow Th’ng (RM5) is at Ah Boy Koay Teow Th’ng.
You can count on their noodles to be submerged in a ladle full of refreshingly light chicken soup and topped with a drizzle of meat slice, fish cake slice and assorted fish balls. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself guzzling down the soup— it’s divine!
Lebuh Clarke, George Town, 10050 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Wed to Mon: 7am – 2pm
Closed on Tue
3. Penang Asam Laksa
Did you know that Penang’s asam laksa was ranked seventh in CNN Travel’s The World’s 50 Best Foods list? After all, that sweet-sour mackerel broth that’s thick and vibrant in colour is simply too hard to resist. And where better to have this dish than at Penang Air Itam Laksa?
The Asam Laksa (RM5.50) is garnished with generous amounts of raw herbs & vegetables: cucumber, lettuce, onions, bunga kantan, red chillies and fresh mint. In fact, the broth is so flavourful that even Anthony Bourdain himself dropped by in 2012 and loved every single bite.
Jalan Pasar, Paya Terubong, 11500 George Town, Pulau Pinang
+6012 500 7063
Sat & Sun: 11am – 5pm
Closed from Mon to Fri
4. Loh Bak
Loh Bak is one of the must-try items when you’re in Penang. While the island boasts a good number of stalls serving this popular treat, one of the well-known places to have your Loh Bak is Kheng Pin Cafe along Penang Road.
The loh bak here is fried to a crisp golden brown before it’s served with chilli sauce and a starchy black sauce. In fact, the loh bak is so delicious that customers are known to take it back to Kuala Lumpur. Another must-try item is the prawn fritter, which is prepared upon order only to ensure freshness.
80, Jln Penang, George Town, 10000 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Wed to Sun: 7am – 1.30pm
Closed on Mon & Tue
5. Penang Rojak
There’s nothing better than a delicious bowl of rojak to welcome the weekend (actually, any day). And the best place to get this salad dish of Javanese origin is at Rojak Ho Wei Jeng, located in Esplanade Food Court. There’s usually an extremely long queue. But fret not, service is extremely quick so you’ll find yourself digging into a bowl of rojak in a matter of minutes.
The Rojak (RM5) consists of water chestnuts, pineapple, guava, squid, green mangoes, cucumber, fried tofu with fermented prawn paste and ground nuts. The sauce is also known to be sweeter and less savoury than other rojak sauces. In fact, the sauce is such a big hit amongst customers that it’s sold by the bottle.
Medan Renong, 11, Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang
+6016 446 1666
Tue to Sat: 6pm – 10.30pm
Closed on Sun & Mon
6. Curry Mee
Established in 1946, Air Itam Sister Curry Mee was founded by two sisters, Lim Kooi Heang and Lim Kooi Lai. They have been peddling their recipe for Penang Style Curry Mee for decades. In fact, they are so popular that they have been immortalised in the form of a mural in the Air Itam Market.
Today however, the sisters no longer run the stall. Instead they have passed down the reins to their grandchildren. So what makes this RM5 Curry Mee so unique? They merely sit on stools and operate business on the ground with a big pot of curry soup boiling over a traditional charcoal fire stove!
612 T, Jalan Air Itam, Pekan Ayer Itam, 11500 Ayer Itam, Pulau Pinang
+6012 410 8152
Wed to Mon: 7.30am – 1pm
Closed on Tue
7. Nasi Kandar
If there’s one dish Penang is known for, it has to be nasi kandar. And I’m going to introduce you to the stall of whose nasi kandar I’ve been enjoying since my childhood— Shariff Nasi Kandar.
And because the nasi kandar at Shariff’s Nasi Kandar is not only cheap but also great tasting, many customers would line up as early as 6.30pm for a plate of this goodness. Each plate of fluffy rice is topped with a variety of thick flavourful gravy, your choice of protein and vegetable. And the meal will cost you less than RM10, so you know you’re really getting your money’s worth.
Gerai 23, Kompleks Pasar Dan Makanan, Jalan Permai, Taman Brown, 11700 Gelugor, Penang
+6017 458 6786
Sun to Fri: 5.30pm – 9.30pm
Closed on Sat
8. Penang Teochew Chendul/Chendol
How can anyone visit Penang and not have the Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul? A bowl of shaved ice filled with chewy green rice flour jelly, red beans, fresh coconut milk and a splash of gula melaka syrup will cost you RM4.40.
It is easy to spot the famous stall because there is a never-ending queue outside Joo Hooi Cafe. Also, it is rather fascinating watching the speed of preparation by the vendor. The quality however may not be as consistent— during my second trip here, the coconut milk tasted diluted and there was not enough gula melaka. This ice cold dessert is nonetheless a wonderful respite from the blistering tropical heat.
27-29, Lebuh Keng Kwee, George Town, 10100 George Town, Pulau Pinang
+604 262 6002
Daily: 10.30am – 7pm
9. Ais Kacang
Did you know that Swatow Lane Ice Kacang in Penang has been operating for almost 100 years? Originating as a humble cartwheel store providing cooling desserts to loyal fans, this famous ice kacang stall has since relocated to Burma Road.
The Classic Ais Kacang (RM5) comes with shaved ice drenched in house syrup, accompanied by chunks of corns, red beans, and grass jelly as well. I recommend the Ais Kacang Special (RM6) which comes with a generous dollop of ice cream.
E, 102, 1, Jalan Burma, George Town, 10050 George Town, Pulau Pinang
+6016 459 5213
Daily: 11.30am – 9.30pm
10. Apom Manis
One of the oldest apom manis stalls in Penang that is still operating can be found in Pulau Tikus. It all started back in 1920 and the family-run business has since been operating at Swee Kong Coffee Shop.
Prepared using claypots over open charcoal stoves, they churn out the most delicious, moist, coconut-rich sweet Apom Manis that go for just RM1 a piece. And trust me, one is never enough. You’ll find yourself reaching for more.
317, Jalan Burma, George Town, 10350 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Daily: 5.30am – 1pm
11. Dim Sum
If you grew up in Gelugor (like I did), you would be familiar with Maxim Dim Sum. Over years, Maxim Dim Sum has grown to become one of the go-to breakfast spots for locals living in the neighbourhood thanks to their delicious and affordable dim sum.
Some of the dim sum items you can look forward to include the perennial favourites such as Fried Radish Cake, Fried Prawn Roll, Crystal Crab Dumpling and the Scallop Prawn Dumpling.
12. Hokkien Mee
Hokkien mee (or prawn mee as it is known in Kuala Lumpur) is a staple amongst Penangites. And one of the more famous ones is the 888 Hokkien Mee. Very often, there is a long queue in front of this stall.
A small bowl of Hokkien Mee (RM6) contains noodles, pork slices, shrimps, boiled egg and bean sprouts. The dish is topped with fried onions to improve aroma and flavour. If you enjoy a kick in your broth, there is a spoonful of chilli paste to be mixed in the soup. Do note that they have implemented a self-service system, so you’ll have to pick up your own bowl of noodles to bring to your table.
67-A, Lebuh Presgrave, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Tue & Wed, Fri to Sun: 5pm – 8pm
Closed on Mon & Thu
13. Lok Lok
A stall located at the Pulau Tikus Market, Peng Hwa Lok Lok offers over thirty types of lok lok available for selection. This place also offers five different kinds of mouth-watering dipping gravies for you to try.
These ingredients were readily served on their specially customised table which allows you to grab a seat and enjoy your steaming hot lok lok. The best part? The stick goes for as low as RM1. Time for a lok lok feast, I say!
Jalan Pasar, Pulau Tikus, 10350 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Thu to Tue: 4pm – 10pm
Closed on Wed
14. Oyster Omelette
Fried Oyster Omelette, or also known as Oh Chien in Hokkien, is a popular street food you can find all over Penang. And where better to have a taste than at Seng Thor Coffee Shop— this legendary fried oyster omelette hawker stall has been around since 1930.
You can select between four sizes and each price varies according to the size— RM13, RM17, RM20 and RM30. The oysters served here are plump and juicy, the omelette batter crispy and full of wok hei. The best part was that the dish didn’t give off gooey and half-cooked starch that you sometimes find in less superior oyster omelettes.
30, Jalan Nyonya, Pudu, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
+603 2145 2512
Tue to Sun: 12pm – 3pm
Closed on Mon
15. Wan Tan Mee
If you’re craving for a bowl of wan tan mee, head over to Top Lucky Cafe. Best part? One bowl will only cost RM3! Helming the hawker stall at Top Lucky Cafe is Mary who has been selling her extremely affordable Wan Tan Mee for the past 32 years.
A plate of her wan tan mee comes with a generous portion of noodles, dumplings, barbecued pork, leafy vegetables and sambal belacan. Talk about getting a bang for your buck!
4E-1-78, Lorong Semarak Api 1, Bandar Baru Air Itam, 11500 Ayer Itam, Pulau Pinang
+6016 444 1119
Mon to Sat: 7am – 11am
Closed on Sun
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