“You can’t leave Penang without sampling the food!” If you’ve ever made plans to visit the pearl of the orient and mentioned it to someone from or has been to the island, you’re sure to have heard this sentence a lot. True to the fact, Penang is indeed one of Malaysia’s best food havens and whether it’s your first or your 50th time there, food hunting is a must.

A quick Google search on ‘the best food in Penang’ will show you tens of lists, most listing the same popular dishes with a few personal favourites. Instead of going through all those articles yourself, we’ve done the job for you and picked the best of the best and shortlisted suggestions from myPenang, Ladyironchef and Tourder’s.

These are the 8 dishes everyone new to Penang must try, along with where you can find them:

1. Nasi kandar


Tourder’s says:

Originated from Indian Muslim, nasi kandar has become a Penang specialty. Today, it’s most often found in large and small restaurants that spill out onto the street. This richly spiced meal features various fish and meat curries and other gravies that is served on white rice. To add the awesomeness, fried chicken, prawn sambal or fried squid are just some other popular add-on dishes.

Where to try it:

Nasi Kandar Beratur @ Liyaqat Ali Nasi Kandar 98, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling | Tel +6042613984 | Open 10PM – 9AM

Kassim Mustafa Nasi Kandar 12, Lebuh Chulia, George Town | Tel +6042634592 | Open 24 hours

Nasi Kandar Line Clear 177, Jalan Penang, George Town | Tel +6042614440 | Open 24 hours

2. Assam laksa


Ladyironchef says:

The world-famous Assam Laksa encapsulates an interesting myriad of contrasting flavours; each mouthful of the tangy broth packs a punch of sweetness, sourness and even spiciness!

Many ingredients – such as chilli, cucumber, mint leaves, onion, pineapple, prawn paste, poached mackerel, shallots and tamarind – are used to create this complex noodle dish.

Where to try it:

Pasar Air Itam Laksa 1, Jalan Pasar, Ayer Itam | Tel +6012-500 7063 | Open 11.15AM – 7.30PM

Taman Emas Kopitiam Assam Laksa Gottlieb Road, George Town | Open 12PM – 5.30PM, closed on Mondays

Joo Hoi Cafe  475, Penang Road, George Town | Open 11AM – 5.30PM, closed on Thursdays

3. Curry mee


Tourder’s says:

Curry mee is an amazing spicy coconut curry soup with yellow egg noodles and rice vermicelli. The soup is rich and a bit sweet; it’s definitely not for calorie counters. Each bowl has at least a few of the following: chicken, tofu puffs, prawns, pork blood, cockles and cuttlefish. Garnished with fresh mint leaves and a spoonful of peppery sambal paste, curry mee is, at its best, transcendent.

Where to try it:

Sisters Curry Mee 610K, Lorong Beside, Ayer Itam | Tel +6012-4755369 | Open 7.30AM – 1PM

Tuai Pui Curry Mee 23, Lebuh Kimberley, George Town | Open 8AM – 5PM

Lorong Seratus Tahun Curry Mee 50, Lorong Seratus Tahun, George Town | Tel +60164448881 | Open 7.30AM – 2.30PM, closed on Thursdays

4. Rojak


myPenang says:

Penang rojak can count as a healthy dessert option in Penang. Loaded with more than your 5-a-day fiber needs, Penang rojak is made from a variety of fruits and vegetables topped with our own creation of prawn paste sauce. You can also choose to have it spicy or non-spicy.

Where to try it:

Rojak Orang Hock, Restoran Chiap Hong Jalan Pasar, Bukit Mertajam | Tel +6012-476 5020

Penang Best Rojak @ Stall 77, Gurney Drive Hawker Centre 5, Persiaran Gurney, George Town | Open 7PM – 12AM, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays

BM Rojak, Kedai Kopi Bukit Mertajam Jalan Pasar, Bukit Mertajam

5. Char koay teow


Ladyironchef says:

Char Koay Teow is an aromatic plate of flat rice noodles that has been stir-fried over high heat with bean sprouts, belachan chilli, de-shelled blood cockles, (duck) egg, pork lard, prawns and soy sauce.

Needless to say, Char Koay Teow is far from healthy with its high saturated fat content, but it will be one of the best dishes you will ever eat in your entire lifetime.

Where to try it:

Tiger Char Koay Teow, Kedai Kopi Ping Hooi 179, Caravon Street, George Town | Tel +6014580926 | Open 8.30AM – 2.30PM

Siam Road Char Koay Teow Siam Road, Off Jalan Anson, George Town | Open 3PM – 11PM, closed on Mondays

Kimberley Street Char Koay Teow 86, Lebuh Kimberley | Open 5.30PM – 12AM, closed on Wednesdays

6. Hokkien mee


Tourder’s says:

It may have its roots in the Fujian province of China, but the Hokkien mee you’ll find in Penang is different. The soup is a fragrant, fatty prawn-and-pork-bone-based broth served with a combination of chewy yellow egg noodles and thin, white rice vermicelli. Topped with hard-boiled egg, small prawns, fish balls, crispy fried shallots and spicy sambal, the dish is a perfect breakfast food.

Where to try it:

Ah Soon Kor Har Mee 80, Jalan Perak, George Town | Tel +60124359933 | Open 7.30AM – 1PM

888 Hokkien Mee 67-A, Lebuh Presgrave | Tel +60164341919 | Open 5.30PM – 12AM, closed on Thursdays

Seng Lee Coffee Shop 270, Jalan Burma, George Town | Open 8AM – 6.30PM

7. Wantan mee


Ladyironchef says:

Wanton Mee might be a common dish among Southeast Asians, but we reckon Penang’s interpretation is among the best. The springy noodles are either served dry or dunked in soup, where the former would be tossed in tasty oyster sauce. The dish is completed with leafy vegetables, silky stuffed wantons and char siew pork slices.

Where to try it:

Kedai Kopi Gou Lou 55, Jalan Kampung Malabar, George Town | Tel +60122319875 | Open 10AM – 11PM

Lebuh Acheh Wantan Mee 65, 1, Lebuh Acheh, George Town | Open 7AM – 1PM

Chulia Street Wantan Mee Lebuh Chulia, George Town | Open 6PM – 11PM

8. Char koay kak


myPenang says:

Slightly similar to Penang char koay teow, char koay kak is made from blocks of rice cakes fried with salted turnip, eggs and beansprouts. The dish may sound simple but the taste is definitely not.

Where to try it:

Super Tanker Food Centre Jalan Nipah Taman Lip Sin, Bayan Lepas | Tel +6044213223 | Open 6PM – 11PM

Char Koay Kak Roadside Stall Kimberley Street, George Town | Open 7.30AM – 11AM

Seow Fong Lye Cafe 94C, Macalister Lane | Tel +6042297390 Open 8AM – 12PM


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