A guide on where to eat in Penang Malaysia. Penang is state in Malaysia known for its diverse food culture, and some might even claim it as the culinary capital of Malaysia. The amount of amazing food options you can find in Penang will be unlimited, so for this guide I will focus mostly in the UNESCO Heritage city of George Town as the main focus. George Town is where most travelers will find themselves when they start their journey when exploring the state of Penang. George Town is a very walkable city with lots of things to see and do.
Related Article: Amazing Street Art in George Town
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George Town History
Establish in 1778 as a trading port city by Francis Light a British explorer, and the first British settlement in Southeast Asia. George Town as of 2010 has a majority population of ethnic Chinese at around 53 percent. Other ethnic groups include Malays, East Malaysia indigenous races, ethnic Indians, Eurasian, and Siamese decent. Throughout history the city was also home to Burmese, Japanese, Arab, Armenian, Pershian, and Filipino to name a few. The food in Penang is a mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Peranakan, Thai, and European influences. Some of the primary local dishes include Asam Laksa, Char Kway Teow, Curry Mee, Hokkien Mee, Nasi Kandar, Rojak, Chendul, and Fried Oyster Omelette.
Penang is one of the cheapest places I have traveled to for local food. In general prices will range from $2 to $8 (8 – 32 MYR) Most of the food featured will be less than $5 USD (20 MYR) If you go to a western style restaurant expect to pay a bit more. Beer prices in Malaysia will be more expensive due to the taxes, but in George Town there is a local place called Antarabangsa Enterprise where you will find locals and tourist sitting on plastic chairs enjoying cheap beers on the side of the road in an alley .
Map of where to eat in Penang Malaysia
For a great central place to stay I recommend the areas near Chulia St, Love Lane, Armenian Street, or near Beach Street. These areas are all very central and close to a lot of the historic sites, and street art. I use Hostelworld, Agoda, and Booking to find the best deals.
Located on Chulia Street close to the night market and Love Lane. Private rooms and dorm rooms available. Close to the action but far enough for some quiet time.
A short walk away from Armenian Street and Chulia Street. A colorful common space and female only dorms and mixed dorms available.
Chulia Street Night Hawker Market
Chulia Street at Love Lane is an area of George Town that comes alive at night with loads of bars, hotels and restaurants. You will find a mix of tourist and locals enjoying the cheap food at one of the many night hawker food stalls that line the busy streets. From meats on a skewer, falafels, Char Keow Teow, Soups, Noodle Dishes, and more.
Hong Kee Wan Thun Mee
Hong Kee Wan Thun Mee specializes in a Hong Kong style wonton noodle they make inhouse. They also have good char siew and siu yok (roasted pork). This place is frequented by many locals.
I small unassuming chinese noodle shop with a decent variety of noodle dishes. Prices are cheap and they have english picture menus making it easy for tourist to choose from.
Kapitan is well known for their Tandoori Chicken and Biryani dishes. The place is quite large with plenty of seating and good for groups. The cheesy garlic naan and butter chicken are also well worth a try.
Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul
Image credit: Wikipedia user Orderinchaos , Creative Commons 4.0 License. Image has been cropped from the original.
Penang Famous Teochew Chendul is a small food stall know for their refreshing dessert called chendul. Chendul is an iced dessert with green rice flour jelly, coconut milk, and palm sugar syrup. You can also get some additional toppings like red beans. Please note I forgot to take a picture of the Chendul I had, so the image above was sourced from wikipedia. However in appearance it looks almost identical to the one pictured above. A must ry on a hot day in Penang Malaysia.
Oyster Omelette Stall
There are many food stalls serving Fried Oyster Omelettes in Penang. I just so happen to try the one next to Penang Famous Teochew Chendul. This is a cheap protein packed meal. It’s stir fried with egg, chives, oysters and a little bit of rice flour batter. I like to top it off with some hot sauce.
Red Garden Food Paradise
Red Garden Food Paradise is hawker food center with a bunch of different food vendors. It’s a great place to try a lot of different foods at once, have a beer and people watch. They also have some karaoke entertainment on the weekends.
Air Itam Laksa
Okay, so I wasn’t actually able to try the infamous Air Itam Laksa. (One of Anthony Bourdain’s favorite soups, R.I.P) I just wasn’t able to make it there while I was in Penang because it is a little farther away from George Town center area, but I was able to try it at another place that has since permanently closed. The reason I am recommending this dish as a try, is because it is deep rooted in Penang and their take on this dish is unique. Be forewarned though that this dish is quite pungent and sour made with a fish broth, chicken, rice noodles, lettuce, pineapple, prawn paste, onion, and spices
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Loo Beef Noodle
This beef noodle soup was one of my favorite in Penang. Made with rice noodles, broth, slices of beef, meat balls, tripe, and bean sprouts. It’s a simple dish but has a fairly rich broth. Just an all around good comfort food.
Tajuddin Hussain Nasi Kandar
This restaurant specializes in nasi kandar and different types of curry dishes. It’s a mix on Indian Malay food. A very popular place during lunch time. With all of the great looking dishes I ended up ordering way more than I could handle. They serve mutton, chicken, biriyani, greens, soups, and more.
Penang is full of small dim sum restaurants many of which only served during breakfast time. Tai Tong is one of the many places that serve dim sum for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
AhMa Pan Mee
Chili Pan Mee was a little harder to find in Penang than I thought it would be. After having some delicious Chili Pan Mee in the Chow Kit District of Kuala Lumpur I found myself craving it. Chili Pan Mee is a noodle dish with dried anchovies, hard boiled eggs, chives, and minced pork meat, with dry chili on the side. This version was a little different than what I had in Kuala Lumpur but very similar in principle. Although I prefer the version I had in Kuala Lumpur, the one i Had at AhMa Pan Mee was well worth it.
Where to eat in Penang Malaysia Final Thoughts
If you are a foodie Penang Malaysia should be on your bucket list of cities to visit. The amount of good food stalls, and restaurants are unbelievable. The culture surrounding food is amazing and the people of Penang take great pride in their food. So finding great places to eat will not be hard. While exploring the food culture of Penang, I found it hard to pinpoint the best of the best because there is just to much to choose from, and taste are all subjective. In any regards I hope this food list gives you a good starting point for your culinary trip in George Town, Penang, Malaysia. Have you been to Penang? I would love to here what your favorite places to eat are. Leave a comment down below!