There are two reasons why I chose Penang, Malaysia as my summer destination. First, I wanted to take part in the George Town Festival that commemorated the city’s inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage listing, and second, I wanted to eat. And being the food capital of Malaysia, I don’t think anyone has to think twice of picking Penang as the ideal food destination.
I didn’t consult any guidebook to find the best food stall in Penang. I only relied on the advice of the locals and of course, my own curiosity. For me, it doesn’t matter if the food shack is as posh as a fine dining restaurant or as dainty as a next door cafe. I always keep my mind open and eat as much variety of food as possible (except those I’m allergic to of course).
I explored Penang and found some of the most delicious dishes. Here are some of my favorites:
The Rojak is a fruit and vegetable salad dish mixed with dark prawn paste. Though other countries such as Indonesia and Singapore have their own version of Rojak, they say the Penang Rojak is the best of the lot and I was lucky to have a plate of it at Gurney drive, known to be the best and cheapest spot for Penang hawker food according to most locals. The mixture of green mangoes, pineapple, cucumber, jambu (water apple/rose apple), prawn crisps, chopped roasted peanuts and of course, the Hae Ko (dark prawn paste) gave me a mouth-watering experience. Screw my allergy! I wouldn’t mind eating this everyday:
2. Yeap Noodles
I accidentally passed by the Yeap Noodles shop while looking for a Hainanese Chicken Rice dish. Fortunately for me, the best-selling Dry Yeap Noodle dish which I ordered tasted really good! “Yeap” means “homemade” according to the restaurant manager. And being homemade, I guess it has all the right ingredients to make its texture and overall taste perfect.
See their official website:
3. Claypot Mee
Another gem I discovered at the Night Market in George Town’s Backpackers area is the famous “Claypot mee” or crispy noodles cooked in claypot. Now if I had a bad hangover in Malaysia, this Claypot Mee would be the best solution because it’s refreshing and light. It combines all the best ingredients such as chicken, fish or lobster balls, mushrooms, spring onions, and garlic to make a hearty noodle soup dish:
If I wasn’t trying to control my sugar intake, I would have ordered 5 cups in one sitting. Cendol is probably the best desert I’ve tasted in the entire country. It’s made of jelly noodles, coconut milk, red beans, palm sugar and shaved ice.
The coconut milk is divine. I can’t say anything more:
(try it at Old Town White Coffee – got this suggestion from a local)
5. Fried Ice Cream (aiskrim goreng)
Another excellent desert I tried from the night market is the Fried Ice Cream. It’s basically ice cream sandwiched in deep fried bread. What stood out for me was the fried bread because it was crispy, warm and sweet, which surprisingly, complemented the cold and soft ice cream.
It comes in 3 flavors and I chose the chocolate one:
My Malaysian adventure is not over. Expect me to be back in the country very soon! For now, maybe you can suggest other great Malaysian dishes that I should try. Feel free to post in the comments below.