Eating Penang: a foodie’s guide

photo by CC user 19160878@N08 on Flickr

Penang has been widely lauded in the food and travel media over the past few years for the quality of its cuisine, especially from its street stalls.

In order to make the most of your meal times on this flavorful Malaysian island, we have pulled together a list of a few dishes that you should eat before pressing on to other destinations in this exotic country.

Check’em out below…

1) Assam Laksa

This sour seafood soup is one of Penang’s most famous dishes, so be sure to hunt down a bowl as soon as you get settled in the bustling city of Georgetown.

Usually made with poached mackerel, noodles, shrimp paste, lemongrass, tamarind and chillies, the broth and ingredients are bursting with flavor, so much so that leading food critics consider it to be among the world’s best street meals.

There are many stands that serve this popular regional dish, but many say that Ayer Itam Pasar serves the best bowls on the island.

2) Char Kway Teow

If you are in the mood for noodles, Char Kway Teow is a dish that is authentically Penang in origin. Consisting of flat noodles fried in pork lard and soy sauce, and with an abundance of prawns, eggs and beansprout adding bulk to the meal, it is a sidewalk treat that will quiet your stomach in a hurry.

If you are having cravings after dark, Kafe Khoon Hiang is a great place to go, as their version of this dish often produces lines of hungry regulars. Duck eggs are their secret, so be sure to give their spin on this noodle dish before trying it elsewhere.

3) Nasi Kandar

A buffet style meal that is often referred to as the national dish of Malaysia, Nasi Kandar will become a staple at one of your daily meals if it hasn’t already by the time you visit Penang.

Referring to twin buckets of rice that used to be balanced on a pole in olden times, this meal consists of flavored or plain rice, which is then topped by your choice of curry (of varying heat levels and with/without meat) and side dishes like fried chicken, prawns, okra, etc.

The best place in Penang (and arguably Malaysia) to enjoy this dish is at Line Clear, which operates in a side alley at the top of Chulia Street.

Open 24 hours a day since the mid 1940’s, it has a long line of regulars that enjoy its home cooked food, and for the length of your stay, you very well may be among them.

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