When In Penang: What and Where to Eat?

A definitive gastronomical guide to Penang’s delectable local cuisine. 

Penang is indeed a well-known holiday destination for the tourists; both local and internatonal. It has a long history and cultural heritage which makes it a perfect place for a culture and tradition enthusiast. Then again, what is Penang without its savour signature dishes? From nasi kandar to teh tarik, apom to samosa; be it in restaurants or at street stalls, Penang surely is regarded as heaven, especially to foodies.

And then there’s this situation where you begin to ask questions about what and where to eat. It’s even worse when your friends are not helping with the decision-making and at the end of the day, you ended up at some fast food restaurants (happens to me a lot).

So what and where to eat, you ask? Fret not, we’ve gone on the hunt for all the must-try goodies and compiled them for you to help with your indecisiveness. Happy reading, folks!

Merican Kembali @ Kedai Kopi Melo 

Kedai Kopi Melo is a perfect illustration of how George Town’s gastronomic heritage is shared among the city’s ethnic communities. Located at Bishop Street, the coffee shop is famous for its classic Penang Chinese favourite – kaya toast and half-boiled egg.

To my surprise, we didn’t have those for our early brunch. Instead, we tasted nasi kandar. The stall was set up at the corner of the shop, operated and prepared by Indian Muslims. From the banner, I learnt that the stall’s name was Merican Kembali. Now, enough about the name, let’s have a look at these shots of mouth-drooling dishes of nasi kandar. 

The stall set-up at the corner of Kedai Kopi Melo.
If this doesn’t make you drool, I don’t know what else will.
For your palate pleasure.

If you are a nasi kandar enthusiast, this is definitely a must-visit place for you to try nasi kandar with a different ambiance. Or you can have both – kaya toast for breakfast and nasi kandar for lunch. Oh! Be sure to drop by on Mondays to Fridays (9.00 am – 4.00 pm) and Saturdays (till lunch time) or else you will be disappointed to find that the shop is closed on Sundays and public holidays (speaking from experience, by the way, as we went there again on Sunday morning).

Kedai Kopi Melo
101, Bishop Street,
10200 George Town.
Tel: 04-262 2723


Penang Special Samosa

Moving on to street food, Penang Special Samosa is another must-try if you happen to be around Little India. Based on its name, the specialty here is of course – samosa or Indian curry puff. The smell of the freshly deep-fried snack will make you literally go nuts! (in a good way, though)

If you come at its peak hour, you would be surprised to find that even cars were in line like a drive-thru! Since it was still early, we were lucky that the stall was not so crowded. We managed to taste the hot and crispy golden samosa and my favourite was its chicken and tuna. Other varieties include egg and vegetarian.

My advice? Try all.

Should’ve taken the pic before eating it but the temptation was indeed irresistible. (I mean, who could resist?)
Other snacks were also sold here for you sweet-tooth people.

The stall is located at the junction of Queen Street and Market Street in Little India. It operates every day except Sundays from 9 am until late evening. Be sure to drop by at the stall the next time you stroll around the town.

Penang Special Samosa
45, Queen Street,
10200 George Town.

Apom @ Queen Street

Our next stop was a nearby roadside stall across the Penang Special Samosa stall to taste Indian fermented rice pancake or simply known as apom. This traditional bowl-shaped pancake was made from fermented rice and coconut milk. We tasted plain and egg apom. While most of us were accustomed to plain-tasting apom, I opted to have it with the curry instead.

The taste? Superb, I’m tellin’ ya! Its yeasty dough, which had to be left fermented overnight, yielded an aromatic, soft pillowy center, and a crispy round edge pancake. Definitely made it to my favourite list of breakfast! (besides nasi lemak and roti canai)

Look at these fluffy apom pancakes, ready to be eaten!
Apom Telur (Egg Rice Pancake) – eaten plain or dipped with curry gravy.
No breakfast is perfect without Malaysians’ all-time favourite Teh Tarik!
Teh tarik well-pulled!

Apom Stall
45, Queen Street,
10200 George Town.

Tiger Char Kway Teow @ Ping Hooi Coffee Shop

After strolling around the city, we’ve decided to please our palate with char kway teow. I mean, come on. The food trail wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t get to taste this iconic dish, would it? Plus, char kway teow (or CKT, they call it) can be found in almost everywhere but put a little more effort and you can find the best of CKT in town. While we all have our own best lists of best CKT, for me personally, Tiger Char Kway Teow is definitely the one you should not have missed.

Named after the owner “Ah Hor” or Tiger in Hokkien, the stall is located in front of  Ping Hooi Coffee Shop, sitting at the junction to Carnarvon Street and Lebuh Melayu. The stall operates every day except Tuesdays, from 8 am till 2.30 pm. If you don’t want to end up waiting for hours, be sure to grab your seat as early as possible as this place is packed with patrons during weekends.

Prawn Char Kway Teow

Previously, we tried char kway teow from various stalls around the island. Be sure to read the article here.

Ping Hooi Coffee Shop
179, Carnarvon Street,
10300 George Town.

Kim Laksa @ Nan Guang Coffee Shop

Balik Pulau is famous for many things and laksa is one of them. Located at the main T-junction of Balik Pulau that connects Jalan Tun Sardon and Jalan Balik Pulau, there’s a stall called Kim Laksa in Nan Guang Coffe Shop that is famous for its Asam laksaSiam laksa (laksa lemak) and Mix laksa.

We tasted Asam laksa and Siam laksa and oh my, we were blown away by the taste of flavoury tamarind tang of asam and sweet creamy of lemak.  Definitely a must-try whenever you are in Balik Pulau. Also, I would recommend you to have a glass of nutmeg juice with sour plum after eating your laksa for ultimate satisfaction.

If you wish to try varieties of laksa at Kim Laksa, they operate the business every day except Wednesdays, 12.30 pm – 3.30 pm.

Asam laksa
Siam laksa (laksa lemak)

Nan Guang Coffee Shop
67, Main Road,
11000 Balik Pulau.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of the best food in Penang as the definition and preference are rather different from one individual to another. Since it’s still school holidays and the festive season is around the corner, why don’t you take a short getaway with your loved ones to Penang island and experience it yourselves? We welcome feedback and suggestions to add to our collection.

*This trip is sponsored by Big Blue Holidays, an online travel portal that offers you a wide range of exciting experiences that cater to the young and the young-at-heart, be it adventurous or leisure. Check out more about them at www.bigblueholidays.com.

Visit our website and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated on our journey to Penang island.


Basir Zainuddin

Basir Zainuddin

Of coffee, music, and sea breeze.
Basir Zainuddin

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