One of the best things about visiting Penang is the amazing mix of cultural cuisines and at extremely affordable prices. It’s just a foodie heaven! Below is a short list of some dishes that made our top 10 list, and then a few notable mentions.
1. Kuey Teow Goreng
This and char kuay teow were the two most delicious noodle dishes we had in Penang. Normally one meal cost around 4.5 to 5 MYR each, depending on if you wanted egg or not. This particular dish came from the Cecil Street Markets, which are open in the mornings.
2. Wan Tan Mee
This was also a favorite of ours for breakfast. The one we got even came with a little soup and some spicy sauce. If you don’t like things spicy, just don’t add the sauce in the little round dish and you’ll be right. Definitely worth trying! This one cost us 5 MYR for the noodles and the little soup. The best wan tan mee we had was from the night hawker stalls on Chulia Street.
3. Sizzling Pork
This dish was amazing. We ate it so much that we had to stop visiting the Chew Jetty Food court to force ourselves to try other food. This meal cost us 7 MYR, and was worth every bit of it. The sauce is unbelievable.
4. Curries in Little India!
No trip to Penang is complete without a visit to Little India. This particular meal was from Sri Ananda Bahwan near Little India and cost us around 8 MYR per plate. But I would suggest walking around the area and just picking out a place that smells and looks good. You’ll find so many amazing things there including delicious string hoppers and biriyani.
5. Penang Curry Mee
This was superb. You have to mix the red stuff on the spoon into the soup, which then turns a red color and tastes amazing. We got this one from the Joo Hooi Cafe on Penang Road. You’ll know you’re at the right place when you see the person with the cendol painted on the wall. I would recommend you don’t get your cendol from there though, but read on to find out where we found the best cendol.
6. Nasi Lemak
This dish consists of rice, an egg, some spicy sauce, fried chicken, anchovies, nuts, and various other sides depending on where you get it from. We actually didn’t take a picture of the best Nasi Lemak we tried, again from Chew Jetty Food Court. But we did take a picture of the sign (below). The chicken was just so fresh and crispy! This one was actually a Nasi Lemak Goreng, so the rice was fried, and delicious. The cost was a bit more than the average Nasi Lemak at 9 MYR.
7. Signature Noodles from First Avenue Mall
I’m not really into raw eggs, so I was a bit dubious about this one. However, I run by the motto of try everything once. And this time, I was pleasantly surprised. This meal was delicious! The secret is to stir the egg into the noddles, which makes it really creamy. The soup was quite refreshing too. This meal set us back about 8 MYR. We found this meal at the food court on level 4 of the 1st Avenue Mall.
Now we get to the desserts. Cendol sounds really weird when you think about it. It has a crazy mix of random stuff, including coconut milk, green rice flour jelly, palm sugar syrup, and beans. Again, I was a bit unsure about this one, but kept repeating that I should try everything once, and ended up having it multiple times! It was surprisingly refreshing in the hot sweaty weather of Penang. It will set you back around 3.8 MYR.
The cendol pictured above is from Penang Road, but we found an even better one around the corner that had more stuff in it, including stick rice and sweetcorn. It seems like the more random stuff that gets thrown in, the better it is. Personally, the only thing I would take out is the red beans. Keep reading to find out where we got the loaded cendol pictured below!
9. Ais Tinkap … or any of the other many cold drinks
I was super keen to try the ais tinkap in Lebuh Tamil after reading about it online. It involves a combination of sweet rose syrup, coconut water, basil seeds, and coconut flesh. Unfortunately, I had to visit the stall about three times before I found it open, so don’t rely on the opening times of 11am-7pm if you’re going after this drink. After working myself up for it for so long, I was a bit let down, but the drink is worth trying nonetheless. It is very sweet compared to other drinks, such as kopi ais (ice coffee). But you’ll find that any cold drink you can get in Penang is deliciously refreshing (except the sour plum drinks).
The place we found this drink was also the place where we got the super loaded awesome cendol pictured above. Drinks are generally between 1.5-2.5 MYR, and fresh fruit juices can range from 3-7 MYR.
10. Roti Bom
This is so good. I can’t even count how many of these we’ve had during our stay in Penang. It’s a sweet fried little package of deliciousness. Eat it as soon as they serve it, so you get that crisp crunch of the outside. You’ll thank me later. A roti bom will generally cost between 2-2.5 MYR depending on how local you go. It’s particularly popular around breakfast time. You can find this in Indian restaurants around Penang. If they’re making roti canai, chances are they’re making roti bom.
Other Foods You Should Try…
ABC or Ais Kacang
This is like cendol, but without the coconut milk. It’s a mixture of shaved ice, ice cream, jellies, creamed corn and various other things. It was also surprisingly nice.
Roti bakar should really be on our top 10 list. The only reason it didn’t make it is because I’m not a fan of half boiled eggs, but everyone else seemed to really like it. You’re meant to stir a bit of the soy sauce (I think that’s what it was) into the egg and then dip your bread in it. There’s a lot of places around Penang that you can get this dish. One of the famous ones is the Toh Soon Cafe. We could never get a seat at that cafe, and didn’t want to wait in long lines, so we found a really good place around the corner called the Ho Ping Cafe where we got a roti bakar set (including the food and an ice tea) for 5 MYR.
Fried Banana (Pisang Goreng)
If you see this around the place, get one, especially if it’s been freshly made because it will be so crunchy on the outside and sweet warm banana inside. Just don’t burn your tongue on it!
This was a new one for me, but delicious. The yellow comes from turmeric. It’s so smooth and delicious with curry.
Chapati, Poori, and Roti Canai
Chapati, poori, and roti canai are all breads that you can find at Indian restaurants around Penang. Normally plain ones will cost 1 MYR each and will come with some curry or dal soup/sauce. They are delicious and good for a cheap snack. You can also get them with chicken and egg inside, which will cost a bit more.
The asam laksa that we tried was nice, but not our favorite thing to eat. We only had it once. The main reason we didn’t like it was because of the fish bones that meant we had to be careful while drinking the soup.
Prawn Curry Mee
This was nice, but again, not a favorite. We preferred the flavors of the Penang Curry Mee, but it’s still worth trying!
If you happen to be in Penang during Ramadan, look around for the delicious sweets stalls around the place. We found this one at the Ramadan Markets in Little India with donuts for 0.6 MYR! We found the other sweets quite strange for our taste buds, but we gave most things a try. Still, the good old donuts won out.
Yes, that’s right, McDonald’s. We just find it interesting how they serve different things in different countries, so we like to check it out. This Spicy Korean Burger was delicious and the whole meal cost us around 16 MYR.
There’s so much more to try that didn’t make this page. The best thing to do is just walk around and grab whatever looks good to you. Try a new thing every day. Hope you enjoy your Penang foodie adventures as much as we did!
If you want ideas on where to go, check out my post on 10 places to eat local food and drink beer in Penang.