Hawker 888 Hokkien Mee 72 Lorong Mahsuri 10, Bayan Baru (016 434 1919).
Even before its recent win at the ‘Battle
of the Chef’ (Hokkien Mee Category), organised by Penang Times Square, 888 Hokkien Mee had an ardent following and a reputation for its Hokkien mee amongst Penangites. The Hokkien mee comes with the added option of garnishing the noodles with top-ups of pork ribs, pork skins, pork knuckles, prawns and intestines. It doesn’t close before midnight, so it’s a place to satiate your post-dinner cravings. Just forget about looking for decent parking spots – they don’t exist. So pull up by the side of the road instead.
Fri–Wed, 5.30pm–12midnight. $
NEW Air Itam Market Jalan Pasar, Pekan Air Itam, Air Itam.
Apart from its popular assam laksa, Air Itam Market is hugely popular among the Air Itam community for its supply of fresh spices, fruits and vegetables. As with any morning market, it’s peppered with foodstalls, which makes it ideal for breakfast runs.
NEW Anson Road market food court Jalan Anson, George Town.
This humble food court is tucked away in Anson Road wet market. It’s not as large as its nearby competitors but its range of local comfort food is equally delightful. There’s the delicious koay teow th’ng and Hokkien mee. If you have room for more, slurp down some wan tan mee and char koay teow.
NEW Batu Ferringhi Beach Corner Kompleks Baru Senja, Batu Ferringhi (04 881 1867).
This popular Chinese coffee shop recently relocated and is now close to Tarbush, the Lebanese restaurant. It’s a fun place to entertain by the beach and the food is popular with both locals and tourists. Among the musttries are the yam duck, spring rolls, crabs in spicy gravy, and the roast lamb with ladies’ fingers. Child friendly. Thu–Tue, 12noon– 2.30pm, 6pm–9.30pm. $
NEW CF Food Court 49-F, Pengkalan Weld, George Town.
Once featured in Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, this open-air food court houses some of the finest street eats in town. Whether your craving calls for Thai or Taiwanese cuisine, CF has it all and judging from the usual crowd, the variety is enough to satisfy the most discerning Penangite. Sit back and order a cold beer with a side of hawker fare, from wan tan mee to spicy tom yam.
Gurney Drive Hawker Centre Persiaran Gurney.
Gurney Drive Hawker Centre is one of the most popular places in Penang for visitors, as should be the case. It is a place of conciliation for all the delicacies one should try from Penang – Penang curry mee, assam laksa (noodles in a fish-based sour broth), ais kacang (a shaved ice dessert), cendol (a coconut milk-based shaved ice dessert), and rojak (a local salad); it's perfect for your one-stop sampling of what Penang has to offer. There are downsides, however – the prices have burgeoned along with its popularity and the traffic around the area is legendarily bad.
Daily, 6pm–12midnight. $$
NEW I Love You Café Jalan Batu Ferringhi, Batu Ferringhi.
If you’re in Batu Ferringhi for its night market, I Love You boasts an array of Chinese, Western, Peranakan and Thai dishes to try, perfect for supper. For a hearty meal, head over to the Indian stall for a sumptuous dose of biryani as well as the seafood stall for its grilled fish.
NEW Just Food 5.08-13 & 20-23, Gurney Paragon, Persiaran Gurney (04 228 8266/www. gurneyparagon.com).
Gurney Paragon’s clean, contemporary food court is armed with 20 food stalls that cover everything from local to international favourites (ranging from Korean to Thai and Syrian), and of course, desserts. Cheras Yong Tau Foo is good and so is Teochew Chendul for dessert. An absolutely satisfying meal here will cost you around RM10 or more, depending on what you order. What’s not to miss here? The nutmeg juice from the Just Bar stall, which sells only drinks. The distinct sweet flavour of nutmeg with its tannin-sticky texture is simply refreshing and unforgettable.
Daily, 10am–10pm. $
Long Beach Café Jalan Batu Ferringhi, Batu Ferringhi.
This food court receives a regular influx of tourists, but it certainly doesn’t warrant being labelled a ‘tourist trap’ – the food, while not superior to what's offered elsewhere, is quite decent. However, some of the dishes tend to cost a little more than other Penang food courts. If you have a flexible dining budget, sample anything from teppanyaki and chicken chop to deep-fried popiah and tandoori chicken. While this place is right on Batu Ferringhi beach, you can hardly see it from where you sit to eat within this cramped square. Make the most of the location by taking an after-dinner stroll along the sand under the moonlight. Just grab a scoop of Häagen-Dazs ice cream before you leave the food court.
Daily, 6pm–11pm. $
New Lane Hawker Centre New Lane.
Even amidst all the hawker centres that have populated Penang in earlier eras and the deluge of new hawker centres and food courts, New Lane remains a favourite amongst locals and some tourists. Along the stretch of road is every offering of all the food that has come to be associated with Penang, and arguably, the best variations of each of these delicacies; especially notable ones include the pork intestines porridge, the chee cheong fun, the apom manis and the roasted chicken wing and drum stick.
Old Green House Restaurant 223 Jalan Burma.
It’s an impressive feat for a Hokkien mee (prawn noodles) stall to be able to stand out in a place like Penang, given how many stalls sell the dish. The feature that makes Old Green distinctive is that it allows for its customers to customise their bowl of Hokkien Mee; it comes essentially as a blank slate, with only the noodles, eggs, prawns and pork ribs, and diners can choose from a selection of roast pork, meat balls, braised egg, Chinese sausage, chicken feet, shrimps, pork intestines and pork skin to add to their noodles. The place operates at the oddest hours so drop by for a late dinner or if you’re having late night cravings.
Mon–Sat, 8pm–4pm. $
NEW Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul 27 & 29 Lebuh Keng Kwee, George Town; Super Komtar Food Arcade, Komtar, George Town.
Founded in the 1950s, this stall is managed by the chirpy Tan brothers, who inherited this cendol business from their late father, Tan Teik Fuang. Armed with a five-decades-old recipe, the family rolls up their sleeves every day to prepare bowls of refreshing cendol and ais kacang for their customers. If you're up for an ice ball, get one of the ladies to shape and pack one for the road. As there are no chairs and tables here, join the locals and slurp down your order on the sidewalk. The original stall is located next to Joo Hooi Café on Lebuh Keng Kwee but in recent times, we’ve spotted outlets on Island Plaza food court, Komtar and Gurney Paragon. Mon–Fri, 10.30am–7pm; Sat–Sun, 10am–7.30pm. $
NEW Pitt Street Koay Teow Th’ng 183 Lebuh Carnarvon, George Town (017 479 3208/017 477 3419).
Formerly located on Pitt Street (now Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling), the popular koay teow th'ng stall has now settled on Jalan Carnarvon. The version of koay teow th'ng here is traditionally garnished with slivers of pork, eel balls and fresh lettuce on top of a bed of smooth flat noodles. Whether you opt for soup or a dry version (same ingredients minus the
soup), always keep in mind the side of homemade chillies. Add the chillies generously to your bowl for extra heat.
Tue–Sat, 8am–4pm; Sun, 8am–1pm. $
Presgrave Street Hawker Centre 67A Lebuh Presgrave, George Town.
You won’t find this hawker stretch recorded in many travel guides but this place remains a well-kept secret among locals and those who are fond of a late-night supper. You can find some of Penang’s tastiest street food here, such as ais kacang, wantan mee and fried oysters. A particular favourite here is a piping hot bowl of prawn noodles from 888 Hokkien Mee stall with its highly recommended add-ons of pork belly and chilli paste for an extra kick. It’s a good thing that parking is scarce in this side of town; it gives you a reason to walk off a few calories from all that feasting.
Fri–Wed, 4.30pm–12.30midnight. $
NEW Siam Road Char Koay Teow Jalan Siam, George Town.
What merits the stall's popularity and volume of customers is the owner’s stirfry technique using charcoal flames as opposed to frying food over a gas stove. Perched at the end of Jalan Siam, this char koay teow stall has been a Penangite favourite since its opening many decades back. The owner operates only with one assistant, so prepare to wait with other customers for your order (many have been said to wait for 20 minutes or more). However, it's well worth the wait as every plate is stir fried to perfection with fresh ingredients. There are no seats around the stall, so enjoy your plate of char koay teow at the Chinese coffee shop across the street.
Tue–Sun, 3pm–11pm. $
Kopitiam / Coffee Shop NEW Ho Ping Coffee Shop Junction of Lorong Kampung Malabar and Jalan Penang, George Town.
If you only need one reason to check out Ho Ping Coffee Shop, it’s the bak moi (pork rice porridge). Operating on the side street just slightly off the coffee shop, the MSG-free rice porridge is simple and comforting; the rich, clear broth is cooked with a myriad of pork toppings like intestines, liver, brain and various ‘spares’. Placing an order can be quite an ordeal for the fussy eater, but we recommend getting a bowl with everything in it for speedy service – this famed roadside stall has quite a following. For the less adventurous, ask for a bowl without innards. If you are caught in a queue and are condemned to a long wait, fret not; the lor bak (fried minced pork roll) and heh ji (prawn fritters) from the adjacent stall make good snacks.
Fri–Wed, 5pm till late. $
NEW Kek Seng Coffee Shop 382, Jalan Penang, George Town.
Amidst the sheer multitude of local coffee shops in Penang, Kek Seng Coffee Shop has been operating since 1903 and as of today, its quaint ambience and traditional wooden seats remain intact. It’s better known for its durian ice cream, which goes wonderfully with hefty meals such as chicken rice, Hokkien mee and pai tee.
Daily, 7.30am–3.30pm. $
Lam Ah Coffee Shop Corner of Lebuh Pantai and Lebuh Chulia (opposite the Lebuh Pantai fire station), George Town.
In the world of coffee shops, Lam Ah is the gastronomic equivalent of a triple threat. It has a signature stall that, on its own, is capable of attracting an already formidable crowd: its famed beef noodles stall, widely held to be the best in Penang. And if that isn’t reason enough to warrant a visit, Lam Ah boasts the perfect stall to complement your beef noodles – an oyster omelette stall that, at the risk of sounding repetitive, has also been championed as the best in the vicinity. Top it all off with a thirst quencher – the highly recommended blended white nutmeg with plum.
Pork-free. Mon–Sat, 10.30am–4.30pm. $
Sin Hwa Coffee Shop Jalan Burma, opposite Pulau Tikus police station, George Town.
The old lady of the famous char kuay teow stall of Sin Hwa Coffee Shop has recently passed down her recipe, her skills and the stall over to the handling of her protégé, her grandson; as is to be expected, many have reported a decline in quality but acknowledged, however, that it remains among the best char kuay teow in Penang. Besides, the char kuay teow still comes with the signature addition of duck eggs or squids, if you so choose. Besides that, there is also a laksa stall that serves its popular variation of assam laksa (spicy noodle soup with a tamarind base) and laksa lemak (spicy noodle soup with rich coconut gravy).
Pork-free. Child friendly. Disabled friendly. Mon–Fri, 10.30am–5.30pm. $
Toh Soon Café Lebuh Campbell, off Jalan Penang (04 261 3754).
Toh Soon, a coffee shop so small it barely qualifies as one, could be more accurately described as a set of tables and chairs in a sheltered alleyway sandwiched between two buildings. But Toh Soon’s painstakingly prepared charcoal toasted bread, with homemade kaya and rich Hainanese coffee, has locals (old and young), tourists and expatriates alike huddled in the darkness of its shop. Crowds of people head down to its rundown shack of a shop early in the morning for its halfboiled egg, toast and coffee.
Child friendly. Credit cards accepted. Free parking. Mon–Sat, 8am–6pm. $
NEW Toon Leong Coffee Shop Junction of Jalan Argyll and Jalan Transfer, George Town.
Toon Leong has been around since the 1930s, and it still retains its minimalist colonial appeal with wooden furniture and marble tiles covering practically every inch of the place. This Chinese coffee shop is special for two reasons: its old-school breakfast with toast, halfboiled eggs and authentic homemade coffee; and Deen Nasi Kandar, which operates at the front of the coffee shop and sells a wide range of spicy dishes.
Daily, 7am–1pm. $
Mamak Bangkok Lane Mee Goreng Seng Lee Cafe, 270 Jalan Burma, George Town.
Bangkok Lane’s Mee Mamak’s reputation in the local league of street food is indisputable, with long queues and recommendations by food blogs and television food programs. The family-run stall has been up and running for nearly eight decades and
currently, Mahboob Zakaria and his family helm the stall from Seng Lee Café. The mee goreng is the most famous of the dishes here, a stir-fried noodle dish prepared with onions, potatoes, eggs, bean sprouts and a tangy gravy of mashed sweet potato and prawn extract. We recommend paying a bit more for the addition of cuttlefish.
Tue–Sun, 8am–6.30pm. $
NEW Gerai Makanan dan Minuman Maj Lebuh Ah Quee, George Town.
There's no better place for chapatti than Maj – you'll find the cooks griddling freshly made flat breads six days a week. The atmosphere of this unassuming stall is often festive and bustling with the local breakfast crowd waiting for a piece of this Indian delicacy. We recommend dipping the bread into a plate of mutton or beef curry.
Halal. Daily, 7am–6pm. $
NEW Hameediyah Restaurant 156 & 164A Lebuh Campbell, George Town (04 262 1076).
This old eatery along bustling Lebuh Campbell is famous for its authentic Indian-Muslim cuisine and has served up spicy, power-packed fish, chicken, vegetables and mutton curries for over 100 years. Basically, this restaurant is a curry institution and we’d be surprised if you’re not impressed with their behemoth legs of turkey floating around in appetising curry or their crispy but tender deep-fried freerange chicken marinated in spices. A decadent meal where you can indulge in two or three types of curries, plain biryani and a murtabak may cost you between RM15 and RM25 here, less for a moderate-sized meal or order.
Halal. Sat–Thur, 11am–11pm. $
Nasi Kandar Line Clear Beside 177 Jalan Penang (04 261 4440).
Nasi Kandar originated from Penang, and Nasi Kandar Line Clear is one of the oldest nasi kandar eateries left standing, so a food trip to Penang wouldn’t be complete without a visit here. It is hidden inconspicuously along Penang Road, with a small entrance to an alley where the wooden chairs and tables are laid out; but don’t worry about not noticing it because come lunchtime, Line Clear will be buzzing with activity. The nasi kandar here is a plate of rice with a side of chicken (along with any sides of your choice, naturally) and flooded with curry.
Child friendly. Daily, 24 hours; closed fortnightly on Tue. $
Original Penang Kayu Nasi Kandar 15 Lebuh Nipah, Bukit Jambul, Bayan Lepas (04 646 4767/www.originalkayu. com.my).
Kayu is an example of a remarkable success story of a humble stall in Klang Valley that grew into a well-known nasi kandar institution. Founded and managed by Penangites through and through, the stall sees regulars filling every table for a bite of the signature nasi kandar combo, consisting of hefty portions of meat, fish, vegetables and seafood. Dine like the locals do with clean hands and top off your steamed rice with lots of curries for full flavour.
Halal. Daily, 24 hours. $
NEW Shariff Nasi Kandar Istimewa Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, Gelugor.
There's hardly a shortage of nasi kandar eateries on the island and with many advertising themselves as the best in the business, chances are you'll be paying double for a plate of Penang's age-old delicacy. Shariff Nasi Kandar, however, is still considerably cheap and offers large portions, aiming to satisfy customers of most income brackets. Some will queue as early as 5.30pm as the stall often runs out of good dishes before closing time. Complement your rice with fried chicken, roast beef, curry fish and seafood before smothering your plate with several scoops of gravy. The messier, the better.
Halal. Mon–Sat, 5.30pm–9pm. $
Sup Hameed 164A Lebuh Campbell, George Town (04 261 1095).
Sup Hameed is renowned for its soups, not just for the wide variety on offer, but also for the uniqueness of their tastes. Judging on a superficial level will probably do the soups an injustice because they aren’t starchy or thick, and look, in fact, like any other soup would; but what makes these soups so distinguished is their characteristic taste. Most patrons will have their soup served with roti benggali, which is made by hand. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the sup torpedo, which is the bull’s penis soup. Sup Hameed also serves the usual mamak fare, such as nasi kandar, nasi lemak and roti canai.
Halal. Daily, 24 hours. $