Penang is a small island in North-Western Malaysia, also known as The Pearl of the Orient and it’s no wonder why. The island is a cultural melting pot where Malay, Chinese and Indian culture, heritage and cuisine blend harmoniously. Penang’s main attraction, the famous and ever so lovely UNESCO World Heritage site of George Town, has a strong colonial influence and beautiful Chinese style houses that make for a truly lovely sight and is definitely worth the trip!
The town has an endless number of hip coffee shops, lovely little craft shops and art galleries, and last but definitely not least, is rich in bustling hawker centres with tiny food stalls and busy restaurants packed with hungry locals. No matter what you’re in the mood for, there is something for everyone and you will be sure to leave this island stuffed, satisfied and just slightly fatter.
On arrival in Penang, you will most likely receive a food map in your hostel or hotel designed to guide you through the ‘highlights’ of the Penang cuisine. This map functioned as our ‘food bible’ during our, what was supposed to be a 3-day but turned into an 8-day stay. The map consists of 30 highlighted dishes that are a signature for Penang cuisine and the 100+ establishments in which you can have these particular dishes. We agreed that 30 dishes in 3 days was probably a bit of an unrealistic goal but decided to give it our best shot. By day 2 we had successfully eaten 18 dishes (and snacks) and were well on our way to making the 30 (and most likely obesity..).
There was no shortage of delicious food with dishes such as Poh Piah – a popular snack similar to a spring roll made up of rice paper, sweet sautéed cabbage and crispy onions; Curry Mee – a big steaming bowl of thin yellow egg noodles in a rich curry broth with coconut milk topped with anything from choice of dried tofu, prawns, cuttlefish, chicken, egg, mint leaves and chilli/Sambal (and even cubes of pig’s blood for the brave!); and Banana Leaf Curry – as the name suggests, a banana leaf (that functions as a plate), topped with 5 different types of curry, rice, dhal and a pepper soup.
Different areas of Penang offer different varieties of food – Indian in Little India, Chinese in China Town and Nyonya which is a fusion between Malay and Chinese cuisine. So be sure to wander the town where you will find countless restaurants all selling fragrant and enticing dishes, scrumptious cakes and colourful sweets.
George Town is just lovely and relaxing here for a few days whilst eating your way through the city is more than a pleasant experience. So let your inner fatty soar and eat your way through this delicious island, jam-packed with great places to eat.
For the ultimate foodie guide through George town, click to read the Hungrier Guide to George Town Penang HERE!