Foods in Penang Duck Rice

Taste many of Penang’s popular dishes with our Penang Food Guide.

Here are the best foods in Penang & Penang Restaurants you need to try:

1) Assam Laksa

This iconic dish is a must-try when in Penang. It’s a sour and spicy fish-based soup served with thick rice noodles, cucumbers, onions, and herbs.

The broth is made with tamarind, ginger flower, and mackerel, giving it a unique tangy flavour that will tantalize your taste buds.

Best Place to Try it: Penang Road Famous Laksa

Operating Hours: Daily from 09:00 – 17:30. CLOSED Wednesday

Foods in Penang Assam Laksa
Foods in Penang – Assam Laksa

2) Char Kway Teow

This dish is a popular street food in Penang, made with flat rice noodles stir-fried with egg, prawns, Chinese sausage, and bean sprouts. It’s then tossed with a dark soy sauce, chili paste, and sometimes topped with cockles.

The smoky flavor of the wok is what makes this dish so delicious.

Best Place to Try it: Street Vendor on Chulia Street Food Markets in the evenings. I recommend the Char Kway Teow with duck egg for 8 MYR.

3) Nasi Kandar

This is a rice dish served with a variety of curries, vegetables, and meats. You can choose what you want to add to your plate, and it’s usually eaten with your hands.

The spices in the curries are what makes this dish so flavorful, and it’s a local favourite.

Best Place to try it: Nasi Kandar Deen Maju

Opening Hours – Daily from 2:30 p.m-11 p.m

Foods from Penang Nasi Kandar
Foods from Penang – Nasi Kandar

4) Hokkien Mee

This dish is a noodle soup made with thick yellow noodles, prawns, pork, and a rich broth made from shrimp and pork bones.

It’s topped with crispy fried shallots and served with a side of sambal, a chili paste that adds heat to the soup.

Best Place to Try it: Bridge Street Hokkien Mee, also known as CY Choy Road Hokkien Mee

Operating Hours: 08:00 – 14:30 (Tues-Sat), 08:00-12.30 (Sunday), CLOSED on Monday

Foods in Penang Hokkien Mee
Penang Malaysia Food- Hokkien Mee

5) Rojak

This is a fruit salad that’s a unique mix of sweet, sour, and spicy flavours. It’s made with a variety of tropical fruits like guava, mango, and pineapple, and then dressed in a sauce made from shrimp paste, tamarind, and palm sugar.

Peanuts and crispy dough fritters are added to give the dish a crunchy texture.

Best place to try it: Hock Seng Rojak King, a street cart on Macallum Street.

Operating Hours: 15.00 – 20.30 Wed-Sun, CLOSED on Mon and Tues

Foods in Penang Rojak
Foods in Penang – Rojak

6) Apom Manis

This is a sweet pancake or crepe made with rice flour, coconut milk, and sugar. It’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and sometimes served with a dollop of creamy coconut jam.

This dessert is a local favorite and is perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth.

Best Place to try it: Swee Kong Coffee Shop

Operating Hours: 06:00 until sold out (around 09:30)

Foods in Penang Apom Manis
Foods in Penang – Apom Manis

7) Char Koay Kak

A popular Malaysian street food that is a must-try when visiting the state of Penang. It is a stir-fried dish that features cubes of rice cake, stir-fried with soy sauce, bean sprouts, and eggs.

The dish is made by first frying cubes of steamed rice cake in a hot wok or frying pan with soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and chili paste. The rice cake is then tossed together with bean sprouts and beaten eggs, which create a delicious and slightly crispy texture.

Penang Char Koay Kak is typically served with a side of fresh chili sauce or pickled vegetables, which add a tangy flavor and help to balance out the dish’s richness. Some vendors may also add additional ingredients like Chinese sausages or prawns for an extra burst of flavour.

Best Place to try it: Sister Yao’s Char Koay Kak stall, located outside Seow Fong Lye Cafe along Macalister Lane. 

Operating Hours: 07:00 – 13:00 Daily

Foods in Penang - Char Koay Kak
Foods in Penang – Char Koay Kak

8) Curry Mee

This is a spicy noodle soup made with a coconut milk-based broth and a mix of yellow noodles and vermicelli. It’s then topped with ingredients like prawns, cuttlefish, tofu puffs, and cockles.

The spicy curry broth is what makes this dish so delicious.

Best Place to Try it: Curry Mee Special Food Stall

Operating Hours: 07:30 – 13:00 (except CLOSED on Tuesdays)

Foods in Penang curry mee
Foods in Penang – Curry Mee

9) Satay

These are skewers of marinated meat that are grilled over charcoal, giving them a smoky flavor. They’re usually served with a peanut sauce that’s sweet and savory, and a side of cucumber and onion.

These tasty grilled meat sticks are popular street foods in Penang and a must-try.

Best Place to try it: Chulia Street Food Markets in the evenings.

10) Penang Teochew Cendol

This is a refreshing dessert made with shaved ice, coconut milk, and green rice flour jelly noodles. It’s then drizzled with palm sugar syrup and topped with red beans.

It’s the perfect way to cool down on a hot day.

Best Place to Try it: Street Vendor Stall outside Joo Hooi Cafe and New Lane Hawker Centre is good too.

Foods in Penang Chendol/Cendol
Foods in Penang – Chendol/Cendol

11) Roti Canai

A classic Penang breakfast is a perfect way to start the day! Order your ‘roti’ as you like them; plain or with egg. It’s usually served on a plate drenched with a bowl of thick curry on the side.

Gradually spoon the curry over your roti as you eat or pour the lot over it and dig in, it’s fantastic.

Best Place to Try it: Any outdoor street vendors in ‘Little India

Foods in Penang – Roti Canai from street side vendors in Little India

12) Nasi Lemak

A dish that consists of fragrant coconut rice, served with a variety of accompaniments. It’s popular breakfast foods in Penang, and easily transportable if taking on a long bus or train journey.

The dish is typically served with a spicy sambal sauce, cucumber slices, roasted peanuts, fried anchovies, and a hard-boiled or fried egg. Some versions of Penang Nasi Lemak may also include other side dishes such as fried chicken, beef rendang, or sambal squid.

What sets Penang Nasi Lemak apart from other variations of the dish is the use of a unique sambal sauce made with dried shrimp, onions, garlic, and chili peppers. The sauce is spicy and savoury, and adds a depth of flavour to the dish.

Best Place to Try it: Ali Nasi Lemak in Sri Weld Food Court 

Operating Hours: Monday – Saturday 07:00 – 16:00. CLOSED on Sundays

Foods in Penang Nasi Lemak
Foods in Penang – Nasi Lemak

13) Mee Goreng

This is a spicy stir-fried noodle dish that’s packed with flavour. It’s made with yellow noodles, prawns, bean sprouts, and a sauce made from tomato ketchup, chili sauce, and soy sauce.

It’s then topped with crispy fried shallots and served with lime wedges.

Best Place to try it: Seng Lee Cafe 

Operating Hours: 07:00 – 17:00 Mon-Sat. CLOSED on Mondays

Foods in Penang Mee Goreng
Foods in Penang – Mee Goreng

14) Koay Teow Th’ng

Koay Teow Th’ng is a dish made with flat rice noodles and served in a clear broth. It’s topped with pork slices, chicken, fish balls, browned garlic pieces, and chopped spring onions.

It’s often served with a side of soy-vinegar with chilis to add flavour.

Best Place to try it: Pitt St Koay Teow Th’ng at Carnarvon Street

Operating Hours: 08:00 – 13:30 Tuesday – Saturday / 08:00 – 12:00 Sunday. CLOSED on Mondays

Foods in Penang - Koay Teow Th’ng
Foods in Penang – Koay Teow Th’ng

15) Wonton Mee

The dish features thin egg noodles that are boiled until tender and then tossed with a flavorful sauce made from soy sauce, oyster sauce, and chili paste. The noodles are then topped with char siu (Chinese-style barbecued pork), slices of boiled wontons, and garnished with a sprinkling of chopped scallions and crispy fried shallots.

One of the unique aspects of Penang Wonton Mee is the use of different sauces to complement the dish. Some vendors may add a spicy chili sauce or a tangy vinegar-based sauce to add more depth of flavour.

Best Place to Try it: Mother & Son Street Stall, Chulia Street

Operating Hours: Thurs – Sat 15:30 – 22:30, Tues, Wed & Sunday 16:00 – Midnight, CLOSED on Mondays.

Foods in Penang Wonton Mee
Foods in Penang – Wonton Mee from ‘Mother & Son’ stall on Chulia St

16) Banana Leaf Thali

A popular Indian dish that is commonly found in the state of Penang, Malaysia. It is a complete meal served on a banana leaf, featuring a variety of vegetarian curries and accompaniments.

The dish consists of several small bowls of curries and chutneys, which are placed on a large banana leaf. The curries are typically vegetarian and may include dishes such as dal, sambar, or chana masala, along with vegetables like cabbage, okra, or potatoes.

In addition to the curries, the thali may also include a generous serving of fluffy basmati rice, papadum, and a small dessert like sweet rice pudding or halwa.

One of the unique aspects of Penang Banana Leaf Thali is the way it is served. The banana leaf is traditionally used as a serving dish, and diners are encouraged to eat the meal with their hands, which adds to the overall sensory experience.

Best Place to Try it: Sri Ananda Bahwan Restaurant

Operating Hours: 07:00 – 22:30 Daily

Foods in Penang Banana Leaf Thali
Foods in Penang – Banana Leaf Thali

Best Penang Restaurants (for every budget)

As you can tell from the mouthwatering foods in Penang listed above, this city is home to a diverse culinary scene, and many excellent restaurants offer delicious food.

Here are four of the most popular and highly recommended Penang restaurants, along with their signature dishes:

17) Tek Sen Restaurant

This popular Chinese restaurant in Georgetown is known for its classic dishes with a twist. Their signature dish is the Stir-Fried Pork with Fermented Bean Curd, packed with flavour and a must-try for pork lovers. Other highly recommended dishes include the Spicy Fried Eggplant and the Claypot Braised Fish Head.

18) Kebaya Dining Room 

Located within the beautiful Seven Terraces Hotel, this restaurant serves up delicious Malaysian and Nyonya cuisine. Their signature dish is the Nyonya Laksa, a spicy and flavorful noodle soup made with coconut milk, lemongrass, and dried shrimp.

Other highly recommended dishes include the Assam Pedas Fish and the Sambal Prawns.

19) Hameediyah Restaurant

This popular restaurant in Georgetown has been serving delicious Malay dishes for over 100 years. Their signature dish is the Mee Rebus, a popular noodle dish made with a sweet and savory sauce, boiled eggs, and bean sprouts.

Other highly recommended dishes include the Nasi Kandar and the Roti Canai.

20) Sin Kheng Aun Restaurant

A popular Chinese restaurant in Penang that offers affordable and delicious food. It is located in Georgetown and has been serving up classic Chinese dishes for over 50 years.

Their signature dish is the Stir-fried Beef with Ginger and Spring Onion, which is tender, flavorful, and perfectly cooked. Other popular dishes at Sin Kheng Aun include Steamed Fish with Soy Sauce, Stir-fried Broccoli with Scallops, and Claypot Tofu with Prawns.

The restaurant has a cozy and casual atmosphere and reasonable prices, making it a great option for a satisfying and affordable meal in Penang.

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Recommended Food Tours – Taste the Best Foods in Penang

One of my favourite ways to discover the culinary gems of a new city is to join a Food Tour. Let your passionate, food-loving local guide lead the way as you discover mouthwatering snacks, meals, and flavours of Penang, Malaysia.

The following 3 Food Tours in Penang are highly recommended.

  • 4-Hour Georgetown Food Tour – This tour is fantastic for food lovers who want to taste the best of the best, but are a little short on time. In a small group, you will explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of George Town in the early evening on a food tour that combines its rich culture with a range of local delicacies.
  • 3-Hour Heritage on a Plate Lunch Hop – Let your guide introduce you to the best of the city’s dishes on a half-day tour of George Town. Explore in a small group limited to six as your guide provides a comprehensive introduction to Penang that’s ideal for first-time visitors.
  • Penang Harmony Food Trail – Enjoy fascinating food and culture as you eat your way through the Georgetown heritage area on this small-group food tour. Stop by at least 3 different food outlets and sample a minimum of 10 delicious bites!

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