Penang, especially George Town, is renowned for its wide variety of street food options, mainly due to its incredible diversity in ethnic and religious groups living in the area. From fiery Indian curries to savoury Chinese noodles and smoky satay, every Penangite has their own street food stall they swear by.
While most guidebooks push tourists towards popular street food spots like Gurney Drive or Cecil Street Market, we decided to get recommendations from the people who know their city best – the residents of Penang. From travel writers and hotel managers to even a Singaporean import, we’ve included their input below. Bon appetit!
1. Chinese economy rice at Apple Economy Rice
“This Chinese-style rice comes with your choice of side dishes, and is one of the most popular types of Penang food. Apple Economy Rice has a wide selection for very cheap prices (about RM4 or S$1.30 for rice and three choices of vegetables), including curry chicken strips, eggplant in spicy sambal sauce, lor bak (Chinese sausage), fried eggs, mashed pumpkin, fried fish and so on. I keep returning as the selection changes often, and there’s always some new surprise.
The stallholders are very friendly, and over the years that I’ve been eating here, I’ve become good friends with them. Everything is cooked fresh as if it was straight from the auntie’s kitchen. You need to come here by 12pm, or all the best dishes will be gone as customers start coming for lunch as early as 11 am.” – Marco Ferrarese, travel writer
Address: Taman Free School Food Court, Jalan Terengganu
2. Penang white curry mee at Tan Jetty White Curry Mee
“This ‘white curry’ variety has a distinctive fragrance and is especially flavourful when you add coagulated pork blood cubes to the broth. This stall serves some of George Town’s most scrumptious curry mee, but it is not yet very well-known to people outside of Penang. Each bowl of noodles come with strips of cuttlefish, chunks of fresh tofu, fresh mint leaves and, of course, the pork blood cubes. Delicious to the last slurp!” – Kit Yeng Chan, photographer
Address: 50 Pengkalan Weld
3. Penang char koay teow at Sin Wah Char Koay Teow
“In the evenings, the Pulau Tikus area transforms into a hawker paradise with a wide variety of hawker options that I personally prefer to Gurney Drive. This char koay teow stall is my favourite, and attracts long queues of up to 30 minutes every night. Each plate is fried to order and comes with three big prawns, salted duck egg and a hearty serving of lard. It’s rich with wok hei (wok’s breath or a charred aroma) and has a wonderful texture – every bite is delicious.” – Melvin Ooi, general manager at The Prestige
Address: Jalan Burma, Pulau Tikus 10350 George Town, Pulau Pinang
4. Roasted duck rice at Jit Seng
“You probably can’t find these sorts of old-school hawkers in Singapore anymore. The owner arrives each day at around 11am on a scooter packed with roasted ducks and customers will start streaming into the coffee shop to wait while he sets up. Within two hours, all the meat will be sold out. I think the reason behind the store’s popularity is the quality of the duck – the skin is roasted to crispy perfection while the meat remains deliciously tender and juicy.” – Zechariah Chai, Singaporean executive based in Penang
Address: Star Hotel, 246, Lebuh Carnarvon, George Town, 10450 George Town
5. Loh bak at Kheng Pin Café
“Located along Penang Road, Kheng Pin has been serving consistently delicious food for almost half a century. One of the best dishes here is the loh bak (five-spice pork rolls), which is a platter comprising deep-fried prawn fritters, sliced fried fish balls, wedges of bean curd and of course, the pork rolls. Be sure to pair with some sliced cucumber to cut through the grease.” – Melvin Ooi
Address: 80, Jalan Penang, George Town
6. Satay at Satay Wakman
“This stall is probably best known for their barbecued meat skewers served with melted cheese, but I also enjoy the satay as it is. Each skewer is marinated with a variety of herbs and spices, and pairs well with the rich, piquant peanut sauce, which is refillable. The best part is, the food here is very affordable, so you can feast to your heart’s content!” – Chin Wen Lin, Intermediary Relationship Management Manager based in Penang
Address: Malay Food Court, 2, Medan Nipah, Bayan Lepas, 11900 Bayan Lepas
7. Western cuisine at Clement’s Western Delight
“The food here is consistently delicious but my favourites are the Grilled Hawaiian Chicken, which is served with a grilled cheesy pineapple atop the meat, as well as Chicken Parmigiana, which is cooked with Parmesan cheese, tomatoes and a generous serving of herbs and spices. Every dish is prepared with love and tastes like a homecooked meal. I also like the laidback atmosphere at this restaurant, especially the cool evening breeze when seated outdoors.” – Joey Cheah, financial advisor based in Penang
Address: 59, Jalan Sungai Kelian, Tanjung Bungah, 11200 Penang
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SEE ALSO: A quick guide to Penang’s street food