All you need is some change of money, water, and loose clothes for this edition of our Penang food guide— get ready for this adventurous journey, the true Penangite style!
Scrumptious Cucur Udang at Chowrasta Market
Modest but dangerously addictive, these prawn fritters or better known as cucur udang is a perfect way to tame your mid-day slump. The scrumptious blend of sprouts (taugeh) with flour, spring onion, and prawn bits whisked together and deep fried to crispy golden color is enough reason for one to give it a try. With a price of mere RM0.60 per fritter, Chowrasta Market’s cucur udang is definitely one for your food trail in Penang. If you are unsure of the location, just tell your driver or Waze to Chowrasta market, and follow the wafting smell from freshly fried cucur udang. Your nose would not lie!
Refreshingly nutritious Ais Tingkap at Chowrasta Market
Since you are at the Chowrasta Market you should not think twice about the famed Ais Tingkap (also dubbed as “window” sherbet), right at the entrance of Chowrasta Market to wash down the greasy goodness from our cucur udang earlier. Both shop owners have a mutual relationship anyway, hence it only makes sense to have cucur udang and Ais Tingkap in combination (just like tea and biscuits).
Don’t worry there’s nothing peculiar in the drink that has to do with windows per se — it got its name simply because this blend of sherbet was sold through a window dating 3 generations back. So what is Ais Tingkap you ask? It is an interesting concoction of sugar syrup, sherbet made out from a handful of fragrant herbs and roots, with coconut water. It is then mixed in with basil seeds, soaked malva nut (kembang semangkuk) and almond gums (getah anggur). There is no doubt that Ais Tingkap is the perfect solution for a hot day but who would have thought that a crisp pink drink would serve as a cooling powerhouse with amazing health benefits? This drink is not to be overlooked!
YNWA with Nasi Lemak Liverpool at Batu Lanchang
When it comes to Nasi Lemak, we do not discriminate. One is free to have it whenever desired and no one would bat an eyelid. However it is different at Nasi Lemak Liverpool— unfortunately for us, they start operations 6.30pm onwards, but fortunately for them, they start with a bang to a hungry, nasi-lemak stricken crowd wanting a piece of the Liverpool legacy. You’ll never walk alone even if you are not a Liverpool FC fan as it appears to be from the facade. The walls are adorned with Liverpool FC’s jerseys and posters and the whole restaurant is painted in red and white to match the colors of the football club. What makes their Nasi Lemak so special, though? Their fresh, fiery fried chicken is all the reason to have with their wholesome Nasi Lemak every night, for the rest of your lives. The sambal is perfectly sweet and spicy (spicier than a regular sambal) and is the second best thing about the restaurant. If you are feeling rebellious, you can also try their Char Kuey Teow which is also popular at the outlet.
Foolproof Foodies at Padang Brown at Jalan Perak
If we were given just under 6 hours to have a taste of Penang, Padang Brown is the place to let yourself drown in the delight of food coma. Ranging from satays, hearty meat soups, mee goreng mamak, pasembur and the sorts, Padang Brown does not cease in either variety or taste.The whole area is split into two areas to keep the Malay and Indian stalls at night halal. In the daytime, Padang Brown is primarily for Chinese hawker fare at the opposite side, while the evenings buzz with people at the other side with Malay and Indian stalls.
Our personal recommendations are the sup tulang and sup ayam from Al-Bismi Soup stall that is served with a side of fresh Bengali bread. Our second course is usually another foolproof dish that is the pasembur campur from Ghani’s which is hard to miss due to the long waiting line. A medley of meat cakes, sausages, shredded vegetables and seafood selections of your choice, pasembur is truly a foodie’s take on a “savory salad” coupled with a generous drizzle of spicy peanut-based sauce. When things start to get spicy, we surely need something cool and sweet. There is no happier ending than having a sinful bowl of bubur cha cha— chilled coconut milk with steamed yam, taro, sweet potatoes, black-eyed peas, and bananas.
If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can also try chilled or warm leng chee kang, famous at Padang Brown food court too. A sweet broth, mixed with a nutritious mix of ginkgo nuts, malva nuts, barley, lotus seeds and etcetera, this is an ideal guilt-free dessert.
Fusion Indian Snacks at Tea Kadai, Lebuh Queen
Ever tried masala vaadai (urad dhal dumpling) drizzle in cheese sauce? How about vanilla masala chai? There is just one word to describe the menu selection at Tea Kadai, and that is— imaginative. Dubbed as a retro take on the tea kiosk back in those days, Tea Kadai lives up to its quirky branding from the decor till the dishes. Fresh and highly innovative take on the classic favorites like cutting tea, roti canai, string hoppers and murukku, Tea Kadai is a quick pit stop for locals to get their daily fix, as well as an attraction for foreigners to try fusion Indian snacks due to its strategic location next to Little India.
The Richness of Four Generations’ Ang Tau Sng Swatow Lane at New World Park
Ang Tau Sng is actually Hokkien for “iced red bean” that describes a bowl of shaved ice with rose syrup, palm sugar syrup, topped off with attap chee (young palm seeds), sweet corn, red kidney beans, and grass jelly with the helping of tropical fruits in it. It is known as Ang Tau Sng Swatow Lane because it gained famed from its initial location at Swatow Lane at 1923 before the authorities were no longer issuing licenses for roadside traders.
Now at their new and permanent location at New World Park, it is hard to miss this place as the shop boasts a huge signboard that reads Swatow Lane Ice Kacang. Lasting almost a century, we now know why it was such an iconic dessert because it is truly tasty as the medley of ingredient gives different levels of textures and flavours by each sip. Now, don’t you wish you can have a bowl for yourself?
Taste over Matter with Karipap Bawang, at Asia Cafe, Lorong Pasar
It was love at first sight when we were at Lorong Pasar, near Asia Cafe when a vendor approached us holding a bucket full of curry puffs, and a small container laden with a pink-hued onion relish. Out of curiosity, we gave it a try and it was a burst of pure delight and we went for seconds. Karipap Bawang is truly one that is uniquely Penang, and truthfully, we are yet to encounter it anywhere else. When in Penang, hit up Asia Cafe for this vendor. If you can’t find him, ask around. Trust us, mission Karipap Bawang would be worth it!
Succulent Mee Goreng Sotong at Bangkok Lane
So here’s the thing — how does one describe that stage where you feel like eating something relatively light, spicy with an exotic twist, say around 4PM? It calls for a hot plate of Mee Goreng Sotong, my friends. A modest stall at an old Chinese kopitiam — Seng Lee Cafe — but with a faithful following, this spot is no doubt a favourite dish to have any time of the day.
What makes us crave for this dish is simply their clever infusion of sliced cuttlefish that kicks the mee goreng few notches up. Starting at RM4 and up for additional ingredients, it is a perfect stopover to tame your munchies while you are out and about in Penang city centre.
With a heavy heart (and stomach), this is the end of our food guide for this edition. If you find yourselves craving for more, head on to our extensive Feast section for more. Planning a food trail soon? Well, we got you guys covered here and here. Remember guys, there is no better ode to a good time than anything that involves good food.