I don't intend this as a definitive guide on the best hawker food in Penang - how much work and time would that take! - but merely wanted to show you my favourite places that we visited. I would have loved to have explored more places, but we were only in Penang for six days, and two of those days were spent at a resort. (It's a tough life!)
We stayed with my Aunty Rosie, a true Penangite through and through, and she and her lovely friends hosted us and drove us around. Penang people eat often, they eat a lot, and they are very fussy and vocal about their food! We were so lucky to have locals to show us where the good places were!
If, like me, you're really serious about your food, I would recommend avoiding tourist magnets like the stalls in Batu Ferringhi or the big hawker centre on Gurney Drive. (The latter was once very famous, but isn't as good now as it used to be - as my dad would say, it has jato standard.) Although having said that, I wouldn't get too precious about it - I really think that any hawker center or kopitiam will give you a good feed at bargain basement prices.
Gottlieb Road (Cnr Scott Road)
Goodall Cafe is, without a doubt, my favourite hawker centre in Penang. We came here one night when Pulau Tikus was all rained out and we were in the mood for satay.
|Goodall Cafe Hawker Stalls|
|Aunty Janet's Curry Mee|
|Sandra's Char Kway Teow, no seafood, no bak yuu po|
Fellow Malaysians, you know that every time you go home, you have that one night where you go nuts with food, practically inhaling bowls and bowls of noodles, sticks of satay, drinks and sweets? This was that night for me. Generally, I can't eat that much in the heat, but somehow, I managed here! One bowl assam laksa, one plate char kway teow, one glass milo peng, lots of satay and a banana roti!
|Satay: pork, chicken, mutton|
|Char Kway Teow including prawns and clams, plus bak yuu po|
Aunty: Waah, you dare take bak yuu po?
Me: Well, on holiday one, so can lah!
The char kway teow stall at Goodall doesn't add any bak yuu po unless you request it specifically, as it's quite expensive and they only have a "limited" supply. (Hence the lack of any bak yuu po on Sandra's plate, above). I even offered to pay a bit extra for a more generous serving, and they refused. Booo! I loved the crunchy little nuggets of porky goodness! Probably a good thing that I live an eight-hour flight from Penang, so I can't eat it too often.
An insider's tip from one of my aunties: the wan tan mee stall on Jalan Johor, opporiste the Penang Police Station and the Penang Buddhism association is apparently very generous with their bak yuu po. I didn't get a chance to visit whilst on my trip, so go with my blessing.
Below is, perhaps, the most delicious roti-based food I have ever eaten: banana roti! Make sure you ask them to fry it extra crispy, for extra deliciousness. Even banana-hater Sandra liked this one. Tropical banana varieties seem so much sweeter and lovelier than our Aussie ones.
|Banana roti - extra crispy|
Kedai Kopi Kheng Pin
Penang Road (Cnr Sri Bahari Road)
This kopitiam, I'm told, does one of the best chicken rices in town. I'm also told that the chicken rice lady can be a little snobbish, but don't let that put you off!
|The chicken rice lady|
|"Extra chili will be charged"|
There is also a stall here famous for its fritters. (And don't forget, in these kopitiams each of the stalls are owned and run independently). Below we have fried tofu squares, prawn fritters and, my favourite, LOH BAK!
|Fried deliciousness: fried tofu, prawn fritters, loh bak|
And here is the famous, fabulous, chicken rice:
|Chicken rice, kopi peng|
There's a char kway teow stall here, run by a lady. No idea why, but it seems that normally char kway teow friers are men. Reprezent! We didn't get a chance to try her char kway teow, but let's hope she is more generous with the bak yuu po than Goodall Cafe, hehehe.
|Char Kway Teow lady|
New World Park
10 Swatow Lane
I must admit I was a little suspicious of the shiny and modern New World Park, but what happened is that a number of streetside hawker stalls were collected and moved into the one place - including the well-regarded ais kachang stall!
After a long, hot and sweaty day of wandering through Penang's heritage buildings, we were in desperate need of iced refreshment. Here's my ais kacang: shaved ice, rose syrup, grass jelly, beans, and slightly salty sweet corn. It's an unusual combo, but all too perfect for the heat.
(According to the wikipedia entry, "Nowadays, ais kacang is mostly known as 'ABC' (acronym for Air Batu Campur, literally meaning "mixed Ice")" - what rubbish! As far as I'm concerned, Ais Kacang is simply Ais Kacang!!
What are your favourite kopitiams and hawker stalls in Penang?
This is the second post in my series: 2012 Trip to Penang.