Guide to Penang Street Food: 15 Must Eats While in Penang



I live for street food! Penang is coming in at my #1 place of best street food in Southeast Asia. What I also learned about the street food (called Hawker Food) in Penang is that all the Hawkers in Penang must make the food themselves. They can’t hire foreigners to make their dishes. This comes from the Hawker Association and is making sure you are getting the most authentic food on the street. The 1st time I came to Penang, I was only going to be there five days and winded up staying for 10. I loved it so much that when I needed to do a visa run from Thailand I decided to go back to Penang for another eight days. It’s that good!  Here are my top 15 must eats during your trip to Penang. I can’t take all the credit for the places I chose though. I stayed at a Malaysian Homestay and my hosts guided me on where they like to to go.  There are many places that serve the below dishes, these are just the places they like the best.


*Disclaimer: All places and prices are current at of time of posting.  Please double check price and open times before you go.*


CHAR KOAY TEOW


Close to what might look like Pad Thai is a rich garlicky, super flavorful, yummy noodle treat. Flat rice noodles are cooked in a wok along with prawns, clams, eggs, sprouts and soy sauce. Order the special with duck egg and it will come with mantis prawn and duck egg on top of all the other delicious stuff

Location: Ah Len Char Koay Teow

Cross Streets: Jalan Dato Keramat & Jalan Singapura

Hours: 10am – 3pm

Price: 7.5 – 13 MYR ($1.75-$3.00)


CHAR SIEW


Pork belly that’s been marinated in a proprietary sweet sauce and honey then roasted slow.  I went 30 minutes before they opened to grab a seat at this crazy popular place.  By 10:45am all the seats were full and I was the only westerner in the place. I shared my table with a local who got there late.  Glad I was the 2nd table there, I ordered the Char Siew with rice and was served soon as they opened, while the others waited upwards of 30 minutes for their dishes.  The fatty pieces of this sweet, savory meat melt in your mouth and paired well with the rice and sauce.  Had I known better I would have ordered an extra plate of meat!

Location: Wai Kei Cafe

Cross Streets: Lebuh Chulia & Jalan Pintal Tali

Hours: 11am – until it runs out

Price: 6 MYR ($1.40)


CHEE CHEONG FUN


Chee Cheong Fun is made from rice flour that is steamed, rolled then cut into bite size pieces then served with three sauces, a chili sauce, shrimp paste, and a sweet sauce.  The noodles themselves are bland, but they pick up the sauces like a sponge and taste wonderful together.

Location: New Lane Hawker Center

Cross Streets: Jalan Macallister & Lorong Baru

Hours: 5pm – 12am

Price: 3.90 MYR ($0.90)


LAKSA


This is the most famous dish, and is the only dish that starts with a fish broth.   It’s served with vermicelli, onions, chilis, and topped with a healthy portion of shrimp paste. The oldest and best place to get this dish is at Kek Lok Si Temple. It is made by the brother of the owner’s original recipe. He starts serving at 10am and keeps serving until the dish runs out. The place is always crowded but worth the trip. Get your bowl before you see the temple.  This place was also featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations: Penang.

Location: Ayer Itam Assam Laksa

Cross Streets: Jalan Pasar & Jalan Air Hitam

Getting There: Take bus 201 or 204 to Kek Lok Si Temple

Hours: 10am – until it runs out

Price: 6 MYR ($1.50)


NASI KANDAR


This is not a stand-alone dish. It is rice served with different curries, meat, and veggies. There are many places to get it, but the most famous and my favorite is at Line Clear where they serve up your plate buffet style. They’re open 24 hours a day, and there’s always a line. The staff start filling your plate with rice then add your protein of choice and some vegetables then top everything off by spooning different curry sauces on top. Chicken is the cheapest and was really good, but they will try to sell you the large prawns or fish head for a lot more money. If you don’t mind paying $10-15 for your plate, get it; I’m sure it’s delicious. I was super happy with my $2 chicken plate.

Location: Line Clear

Cross Streets: Jalan Penang & Lebuh Chulia

Hours: 24 hours

Price: Starting at 8 MYR ($2.00)


CHENDUL


A line is usually around the street and 15-20 minutes long to get this exotic treat. The bowl is filled with shaved ice and then topped with red beans, sugar syrup, chendul (the green chewy ‘noodles’ made from rice flour), and finished with coconut milk.

Location: Penang Road Famous Chendul

Cross Streets: Jalan Penang & Lebuh Keng Kwee

Hours: 12pm – 5pm

Price: 2.70-3.50MYR ($0.60-$0.80)


WAN TAN MEE



The first dish I ate when I arrived in Penang was Wan Tan Mee. It’s a noodle dish served with dumplings, pork and topped with dark soy sauce.  It’s on the light side, so would be nice for a late dinner or a mid-afternoon snack.

Location: Kimberly Street Food Carts

Cross Streets: Lebuh Kimberly & Lebuh Cintra

Hours: 6pm – 12am

Price: 5 MYR ($1.20)


HOKKIEN (PRAWN) MEE


Noodle soup with two kinds of noodles.  Yellow noodles and vermicelli are served in a spicy broth topped with both prawns and pork, hard boiled egg, and bean sprouts, served with a heaping spoonful of chili on the side.

Location: Kimberly Street Food Carts

Cross Streets: Lebuh Kimberly & Lebuh Cintra

Hours: 6pm – 12am

Price: 5 MYR ($1.20)


BAN CHANG KUEH


I walked by this stall a few times, before the Hawker reeled me in.  Watching him make it in the pans, he puts a layer of batter then fills it with peanuts, corn, brown sugar, coconut, and banana.  What comes out is a thin, crispy pancake that tastes both sweet and savory and melts in your mouth.  So good, I ate two!

Location: Kimberly Street Food Carts

Cross Streets: Lebuh Kimberly & Jalan Kuala Kangsar

Hours: 4pm – 10pm

Price: 1.20 MYR ($0.30)


MEE GORENG


Made of a thick and spicy tomato gravy filled with stewed squid, tofu, potato, bean sprouts and chives. Yellow noodles are fried with the gravy in a wok, which turns them a deep red, then served on a plate topped with lettuce and a slice of lime.  I went to the place where the locals go, it’s found a little outside of town on the corner of Bangkok lane. The covered area includes 6 stalls and 12 tables to sit at.  I was the only westerner in the place on a Saturday afternoon. The dish is made by an older Indian man and you can order 5 different kinds including vegetarian, but the original is served with squid and only costs 7 MYR. 

Location: Bangkok Lane Mee Goreng
Cross Streets: Jalan Burma & Lorong Bangkok

Hours: 10am – 5pm; Closed Monday

Price: 7 MYR ($1.60)


POH PIAH


Served either fresh or fried is Penang’s version of the egg roll. Thin crepes are stuffed with tofu, shredded potato, lettuce, and 3 types of sauces.  This explosion in your mouth is not to be missed!

Location: New Lane Hawker Center

Cross Streets: Jalan Macallister & Lorong Baru

Hours: 5pm – 12am

Price: 4.50 MYR ($1.10)


LOK LOK


It’s always a party at these Hawker stalls. It’s a buffet of meat and veggies on a stick. You pick out what you want then cook it yourself either by deep frying or boiling.  You’ll find everyone just standing around the boiling pots cooking their sticks and eating them on the spot.


Location: New Lane Hawker Center

Cross Streets: Jalan Macallister & Lorong Baru

Hours: 5pm – 12am

Price: each stick costs 2-5 MYR ($0.50-$1.20)


LOR BAK


A deep fried smorgasbord!  There are a few different things going on in this dish.  You’ll find deep fried pork wrapped in bean curd, deep fried tofu, deep fried shrimp tempura, and a potato stuffed egg roll served with a spicy chili sauce and sweet n sour.  


Location: New Lane Hawker Center

Cross Streets: Jalan Macallister & Lorong Baru

Hours: 5pm – 12am

Price: 5 MYR ($1.20)


MALAYSIAN SATAY


You’ll find satay all over Southeast Asia.  The Malaysian style is sticks of chicken and pork that are marinated then grilled over an open fire and served with a spicy peanut sauce.


Location: New Lane Hawker Center

Cross Streets: Jalan Macallister & Lorong Baru

Hours: 5pm – 12am

Price: 5 MYR ($1.20)


BAK KUT TEH


Across the street from New Lane Hawker Center is a place that serves Bat Kut Teh. These are bowls of meat and veggies served in a gravy and kept warm on top of personal burners. Get the pork ribs “Pai Kut”, the meat falls off the bone and add fresh garlic and soy to the broth to give it an extra kick. I’d also suggest going with a few friends to get a lot of variety, the portions are big!


Location: Hong Xiang Bak Kut Teh

Cross Streets: Jalan Macallister & Lorong Baru

Hours: 11:00am – 3:00pm & 5:45pm – 10:45pm

Price: 5-14 MYR ($1.20-$3.25)



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