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Food Odyssey

Savouring the Food of Penang May 27 - Jun 6, 2016

Savouring the Food of Penang

Location: Penang, Malaysia

Food Capital
Like Lyon (France) or Hanoi (Vietnam), Penang is synonymous with food. It's the food capital of Malaysia. To visit Penang is to savour its gastronomic indulgence from hawker food to fine-dining. Food permeates the city. Even just after a meal, there is eager anticipation to try the next dish on the checklist.

Foodscape

foodscape

No Bad Seat
You can randomly pick a place to eat and chances are, it will be a good meal. It doesn't matter if you're eating Indian food, Chinese or Malay. The food level in Penang is high that you'd be hard pressed to find bad food. The mediocre stalls won't last either - they'd be competing with food stalls that's been around for generations, carefully guarding their time-honored family recipes and proudly serving them to their loyal clientele. Both locals and tourists know where the good places are. You see the lines! Try out all these local favorites - Char Koay Teow, Koay Teow Th’ng, Laksa, Lor Bak, Rojak, Mee Goreng, Nasi Kandar (Line Clear is a long-line favorite), Curry Mee, Wanton Mee, Lok Lok and Fried Oyster.

Savouring the Food of Penang
monster-size Big Bowl Ramen at My Voice Cafe with Junne, Janine and Jay (photo courtesy of Jay)

Char Koay Teow
Every food capital has a regional specialty dish - Khao Soi in Chiang Mai, Pho in Hanoi, Bouillabaise in Marseilles. In Penang, Koay Teow is hands-down the staple. You can find it everywhere. Nearly all hawker stalls offer one or a few. I've never had bad Koay Teow...not in Penang! It's similar to Pad Thai. It's prepared with either pork, chicken or fish ball, using fried flat rice noodle. Definitely a must-try when in Penang. Every local has a favorite "best Koay Teow" and opinions vary as widely as there are recipes for Koay Teow. Few of the many popular places for Char Koay Teow is at Lorong Selamat Food Stalls, Ah Leng Char Koay Teow, Tiger Char Koay Teow, etc.

Koay Teow Th'ng or Koay Teow Soup
This is similar in ingredients to Char Koay Teow but in soup. One of the many popular places for Koay Teow Soup is Pitt Street Koay Teow Th'ng (5°24'52.2"N 100°20'02.2"E).

Durian
Fortunately, I was in Penang for its annual Durian festival. It's Durian season and there's plenty to be had. Penang is renowned for its Durian in all of Malaysia. And the undisputed king of Durian is the Musang King. With my penchant for this exotic fruit, I should be ecstatic. But Durian spans a broad price range even when in season - from an expensive MYR 15/k (US$3.75/k) to an unaffordable MYR 55/k (US$13.75/k) for a Musang King. That is quite a disparate price range. The Musang King was not within reach for me - I might as well be cashing-in my retirement fund to get a Musang King (which I don't have). I settled for the MYR 15/k but the one they gave me was before its ripe time. I was frustrated. I vowed that I will go back to Davao, Philippines where the best tasting and most expensive Durian when in season is roughly US$1.30/k! I've tasted Durian in Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia and the best Durian I've had is still in the Philippines. I wonder how a Phil Puyat Durian compares to a Musang King. One day!

Cafe
Penang's cafescape is also evolving with innovative ideas from younger people who have experienced the cafes of Europe and North America. They are bringing those ideas to life in compliance to Penang's culture and lifestyle, adding dimension to Penang's already vibrant food energy. You have a broad range from hawker type teh tarik for a ringgit and change to MYR 8 coffee brewed in state-of-the-art espresso machines.

Ending Thoughts
It's so easy to get caught-up in lining up for the popular places - people know about it and you see lines. But honestly? I've lined up at some of them and they are all good. But they are not stratospherically better than the next door guys. Maybe it's a tad better. Penang's foodscape is already a notch higher than most places. You can't get bad food here. I would suggest to abandon the concept of having to try the "must try" places and just lose yourself in what you see as you walk around. If the food excites you, go for it even if you don't know the name or what it's made with. Chances are, you'll surprise yourself discovering a new dish that titillates the food sense. In Penang's food scene, there are simply too many unsung heroes out there that need to be discovered.

--- TheLoneRider

there is always a line at Line Clear for its famous Nasi Kandar typical lunch time rush hour for noon diners these guys manning the kitchen have years upon years of wok experience always hungry and unmindful of what's going on around
there is precise order in this seeming chaos Jaya is a popular Indian food resto...and it's not even in Little India a typical Kedai....a food shophouse dinner rush hour
if  a stall's name is the same as the name of the food it serves, it's a guarantee you'll have a good meal (if you order that meal) grilled dried squid...you can get all kinds well-fed people are happy people flame-grilled meats
a very popular Nasi Lemak stall near Gurney Plaza...still at MYR 3 for small serving you can be adventurous and try something you haven't heard before...Otak Otak? Asam Laksa is a local favorite if you see a line like this for Char Koay Teoy, you can bet it's a good place to eat
late night dining is still a long line at Beratur Nasi Kandar MYR 3.20 for teh tarik and Roti Canai Banjir Telur Mata Penang White Coffee is another local favorite Penang street food is not served with la-artsy plating...but it more than makes up for taste
fried oyster omelette at MYR 10...crunchy and satisfying this pastry stall doesn't even have a name but this is where I had the best coconut tart at MYR 2.50 hungry diners at Pitt Street Koay Teow Th'ng who already finished lining up and now have tables my first Koay Teow Th'ng at  Pitt Street Koay Teow Th'ng
Wanton Mee and other Chinese soup-based noodle dishes are very tasty Big Bowl Ramen at My Voice Cafe draws a constant crowd Hokkien Prawn Mee vendor whipping up the most satisfying meal I walk around the city with my tourist map and anytime I go hungry, there is always a hawker stall serving something delicious
as you can see, coffee starts at MYR 1 a different food energy at night rich and poor alike eat street food...food is the great equalizer even this unassuming Indian stall serves good meals and drinks for MYR 3 combo!
My Voice Cafe

My Voice Cafe - Big Bowl Ramen

Location 1: C-5-1, Lorong Bayan Indah 3 Bay Avenue, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang, George Town
Location 2: Chew Jetty, Penang, George Town
Hours: Mon - Sun: 11 am - 10 pm

Google Map Penang, Malaysia



tourist attractions in Penang tourist attractions
  • Batu Ferringhi in Penang Batu Ferringhi - beach resort town 30 minutes from Georgetown
  • Turtle Beach (Pantai Kerachut) in Penang Turtle Beach (Pantai Kerachut) at the National Park (Taman Negara) - free admission, beach, camping, trekking and maybe you get to see a turtle lay eggs
  • Penang Hill in Penang Penang Hill - panoramic view of Penang from 830 meters above sea level
    Hours: 6:30am–10:30pm, Phone: +60 19-750 2139
  • Botanical Gardens Penang Botanical Gardens - developed in 1884, the garden is 29 hectares of prime evergreen tropical rain forests just on the outskirt of Georgetown
    10470 George Town, Penang | 5am–9pm | +60 4-227 0428
  • Botanical Gardens Penang Penang National Park - with 2,562 hectares, the park is home to 46 species of birds such as the stork-billed kingfishers, white-breasted waterhens and great egrets. The sandy beach of Pantai Kerachut is also a nesting place of Green turtles from April to August
  • 
Pinang Peranakan Mansion Pinang Peranakan Mansion - a stately home has been renovated to back to its former glory to showcase the opulence, lifestyle and times of the Peranakan a century ago. Monday to Sunday including Public Holidays from 9:30 am to 5 pm. Admission: MYR20.00
  • 
Dark Mansion - 3D Glow In The Dark Museum Dark Mansion - 3D Glow In The Dark Museum - modern interactive 3D art Museum with the "Glow in the Dark" theme | 145, Lebuh Kimberley, 10100 Georgetown, Penang | Adult MYR 18, kids MYR 10 | Mon-Fri: 10:00 - 18:30, Sat-Sun: 10:00 - 21:30
hotels in Penang - hotel
  • Le Dream Boutique Hotel Le Dream Boutique Hotel - central location, fitness gym, jacuzzi, compli wine hour, all day treats, movie nights
    139, Jalan Pintai Tali, Georgetown - 5°24'55.9"N 100°19'58.4"E
  • Just Inn Hotel Just Inn - central location, clean, affordable, helpful and friendly staff
    155,157,159, Carnarvon Street, 10100 George Town, Malaysia - 5°24'53.8"N 100°20'05.3"E
restaurant in Penang - restaurant
  • My Voice - Big Bowl Ramen My Voice - Big Bowl Ramen - 2 locations to serve you, biggest ramen bowl for everyone to join
    1. C-5-1, Lorong Bayan Indah 3 Bay Avenue, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang, George Town
    2. big bowl ramen, Penang Penang Chew Jetty

Penang FYI / Tips

  • the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is in Georgetown's Old City (the UNESCO Heritage Site area). Any lodging in Old City puts you in the heart of things
  • getting around Penang by bus is convenient as there are many buses to several destinations. However, the bus takes the longest and circuitous route so be prepared for a long ride. For more information about Penang buses, go to Rapid Penang

How to Get to Penang (Georgetown) from Kuala Lumpur

  1. train - with the modern ETS fast train, the travel time has been reduced to 3 hours 50 minutes. It's not necessary to take the sleeping train or bus anymore. And you can buy train tickets online at the KTMB website **. Go to KL Sentral and buy your ticket at the KTM InterCity office on the 2nd level, B79. Wait in the waiting area until the train comes and the staff opens up the gate to let you down to board the train - 3 hours, 50 minutes. ETS train schedule
  2. ferry - from the train station, it is a 5-min walk to the ferry station (Sultan Abdul Halim Ferry Terminal) to board the ferry for Georgetown - 20 minutes, MYR 1.20. Ferry leaves every 40 mins. First ferry from Georgetown departs 5:40 a.m. and last ferry departs 1:00 a.m. From Butterworth, first ferry departs 5:20 a.m. and last ferry departs 12:40 a.m.
  3. bus - from the Jetty (Raja Tun Uda Ferry Terminal, aka - Jetty), walk to the bus terminal in Georgetown for a trip to the city center. There is a free bus - Free Cat, which takes you around the Old City of Georgetown, where most of the backpacker hostels are located. The free bus departs every 15 minutes. The free Jetty-Georgetown bus takes a different route from the Georgetown-Jetty free bus
** I initially booked the train ticket with Easybook.com. They confirmed it by email and charged me for it. They said a 2nd email will come with my seat number. The 2nd email never came. When I had the confirmation email checked at the KTMB office on my departure, they said my purchase was not on their system. I had to buy another ticket. I later complained to Easybook.com and requested them to reverse the charge. They arrogantly said they don't do refunds. You'd been warned!

Things to do, Places to go in Penang

  1. food - needless to say, there is no bad food in Penang. Every local has a recommendation on the must-haves, the food bloggers all have their opinion on where to eat and what to eat. But again, you don't have to search far and wide - the eating stall across you is probably a good bet already
  2. street art - in Georgetown, there are numerous street art adorning the walls. Walk around and be surprised. There is even a Penang street map devoted to street art - ask for one from your hotel concierge
  3. Batu Ferringhi Batu Ferringhi - beach resort town 30 minutes from Georgetown, MYR 2.70 by 101 Rapid Penang Bus
  4. Turtle Beach (Pantai Kerachut) Turtle Beach (Pantai Kerachut) at the National Park (Taman Negara) - free admission, beach, camping, trekking and maybe you get to see a turtle lay eggs, MYR 4 by 101 Rapid Penang Bus, 1.5 hours, 22 kms
  5. Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera) Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera) - 6 kms, bus 204, 1 hour, MYR2 from Comtar to Penang Hill. Penang Hill rises 833 meters up a tram system. It covers several hills and could take a whole day to explore on foot. Tram fee MYR30 round trip
  6. Botanical Gardens in Penang Botanical Gardens - developed in 1884, the garden is 29 hectares of prime evergreen tropical rain forests just on the outskirt of Georgetown. 10470 George Town, Penang | 5am–9pm | +60 4-227 0428
  7. Penang National Park Penang National Park - with 2,562 hectares, the park is home to 46 species of birds such as the stork-billed kingfishers, white-breasted waterhens and great egrets. The sandy beach of Pantai Kerachut is also a nesting place of Green turtles from April to August. Phone: +60 4-881 3530
  8. 
Pinang Peranakan Mansion Pinang Peranakan Mansion - a stately home has been renovated to back to its former glory to showcase the opulence, lifestyle and times of the Peranakan a century ago. Monday to Sunday including Public Holidays from 9:30 am to 5 pm. Admission: MYR20.00
  9. 
Dark Mansion - 3D Glow In The Dark Museum Dark Mansion - 3D Glow In The Dark Museum - modern interactive 3D art Museum with the "Glow in the Dark" theme | 145, Lebuh Kimberley, 10100 Georgetown, Penang | Adult MYR 18, kids MYR 10 | Mon-Fri: 10:00 - 18:30, Sat-Sun: 10:00 - 21:30

Suggested Destinations after Penang

  • Cameron Highlands -
  • Perhentian Islands -
  • Langkawi Island -
  • Taman Negara -
  • Hat Yai -

Penang Cost Index

(US$1 = Malaysian Ringgit 4.116 = Php 46.67 as of June 1, 2016)
  • MYR 40/hour tri-shaw (pedal-powered rickshaw) around the city
  • MYR 5-8 small bottle of beer
  • MYR 5-8 standard price for a soup noodle or rice topping dish
  • MYR 6 hot coffee in a decent cafe (cold coffee is more)
  • MYR 10 bicycle rental, 8am to 6pm
  • MYR 5 coin operated laundry
  • MYR 1-2 local bus rides, no change given, have exact fee
  • MYR 18 cheapest dorm room, shared toilet during low season
  • MYR 2 one hour, internet cafe
  • MYR 2.70 1.5 liter drinking water
  • MYR 79 ETS fast train from Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth (Penang pier area)
  • MYR 18 standard admission fee for museums for 1 adult. eg - Dark Mansion - 3D Glow In The Dark Museum
  • MYR 7 haircut

Malaysia Blogs by TheLoneRider

    Cameron Highlands

  1. Cool Climate of Cameron Highlands June 19-23, 2016
  2. Kluang

  3. Overnight in Kluang, Malaysia Aug 13-14, 2016
  4. Kuala Lumpur

  5. Funky Flow Yoga with Lora Lorenzo at YogaOneThatIWant Studios July 27, 2016
  6. Deja Vu Kuala Lumpur with Karine July 21-26, 2016
  7. Layover in Kuala Lumpur June 22, 2016
  8. The Kuala Lumpur Experience Jan 21 - Feb 20, 2015
  9. Police Harassment in Kuala Lumpur Feb 17, 2015
  10. Visiting Batu Caves of Kuala Lumpur Feb 18, 2015
  11. Walking Tour of China Town Feb 5, 2015
  12. Breaking New Ground in Kuala Lumpur Jan 21, 2015
  13. Malacca

  14. A First-Timer in Malacca July 28-Aug 8, 2016
  15. Art Scene of Malacca August 6, 2016
  16. The River Charm of Malacca August 5, 2016
  17. About Malacca July 28, 2016
  18. Penang

  19. Penang (Malaysia) Immersion May 27-Jun 19, 2016
  20. Exploring the Emergent Cafe Culture of Penang Jun 18, 2016
  21. Encounters with the Guru-Types of Penang Jun 17, 2016
  22. Overnight Camping at Turtle Beach Jun 10, 2016
  23. Yoga, Pranayama and Meditation in Penang Jun 10, 2016
  24. Daytrip to Batu Ferringhi Jun 9, 2016
  25. Savouring the Food of Penang May 27 - Jun 6, 2016
  26. Surreal Glow-in-the-Dark 3D World at Dark Mansion June 3, 2016
  27. The Animated Street Art of Penang Jun 3, 2016
  28. Exploring the Lush Greenery of Botanic Gardens May 29, 2016
  29. Up up and Away to Penang Hill May 28, 2016
  30. About Penang May 27, 2016

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Reader Comments:

Yaj KramYaj Kram
(7 June, 2016) I'm guessing the mere mention of the name of My Voice Cafe is a bus ride somewhere.... cheers to more bus rides!!

Lora Frances LorenteLora Frances Lorente
200-RYT | 500-RYT
(7 June, 2016) Is this at Chew Jetty? I recognized that HUUUUGE Ramen Bowl!

May 27 - Jun 6, 2016

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Penang Hotels

Hotels

Le Dream Boutique Hotel, Penang hotel


Just Inn, Penang hotel


Restaurants

My Voice Cafe, Penang hotel


Attractions

Dark Mansion 3D Glow In The Dark Museum, Penang hotel






Penang Hotels

Le Dream Boutique Hotel, Penang
Le Dream
Boutique Hotel

Georgetown
Penang, Malaysia



Just Inn, Penang
Just Inn
clean | affordable
Penang, Malaysia



Dark Mansion 3D Glow In The Dark Museum, Penang
Dark Mansion
3D Glow In The Dark Museum
Penang, Malaysia



My Voice Cafe, Penang
My Voice Cafe
Big Bowl Ramen
Penang, Malaysia







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