Penang is often considered the food capital of Malaysia, and for good reason! A top food destination for locals and international tourists alike, you’ll probably never really run out of new things to eat! The state is iconic for their street foods, so you can expect to be in queues for most places, especially ones often frequented by tourists!
Throughout the state, you’ll be sure to find most of these dishes anywhere you go, but we’ve listed some of the best and most popular places to get some of Penang’s most iconic dishes!
CHAR KUAY TEOW
You absolutely CANNOT leave Penang without having some Char Kuay Teow (stir-fried rice noodles)! A favourite amongst Malaysians, it is basically thin strips of rice noodles known as Kuay Teow, fried in pork fat, soy sauce, beansprouts, chilli and egg over a fiery wok. Often served with some sort of fresh seafood like cockles or prawns, you can even opt for duck eggs instead of chicken ones, which give it a thicker, creamier taste. What sets this dish apart is the slightly charred, smoky taste that comes from the extremely hot wok it’s fried in.
1. Siam Road Charcoal Char Kuay Teow
One of the best in town! It used to be a roadside stall, but now its own shop along the same road. 79-year-old Uncle Tan have run the place for over three decades now, and the mantle is being passed to his son.
82, Jalan Siam, George Town, 10400 George Town, Pulau Pinang. (Link to Location Map)
12pm – 5pm (Closed on Sundays & Mondays)
2. Ah Leng Char Kuay Teow
Located in Ayer Itam, it’s another Char Kuay Teow spot that’s famous among locals. Ah Leng’s Char Kuay Teow is a little wetter than the regular dish and also comes with large fresh prawns!
Jalan Dato Keramat, Kampung Makam, 10150 George Town, Pulau Pinang. (Link to Location Map)
9.30am – 3.30pm (Closed on Wednesdays)
KUAY TEOW TH’NG
This hearty dish is Kuay Teow noodles served in a flavourful clear broth and topped with sliced meat, fish balls and vegetables.
1. Lum Lai @ Cecil Street Market
You can find a variety of local dishes here, but don’t miss out on Lum Lai’s Duck Meat Kuay Teow Th’ng! This satisfying bowl of goodness also contains coagulated duck blood, pork lard and chopped scallions.
40-48, Lebuh Cecil, George Town, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang. (Link to Location Map)
7.30am – 7pm (Daily)
2. Fook Cheow Coffee House
This spot has been established for over 30 years and is being manned by the second generation. Known for their homemade fish balls, this hearty bowl also contains crunchy shredded lettuce! They’re especially popular in the breakfast crowd and it can be quite hard to secure a seat after 8am.
122 I, Jalan Hutton, 10050 George Town, Pulau Pinang. (Link to Location Map)
7am – 1pm (Closed on Sundays)
Also known as Oh Chien, oyster omelettes is made up of a mixture of egg, starch and fresh oysters, giving it a gooey yet crispy texture that’s amazingly addictive.
1. Bee Hooi Coffee Shop
Located on Burma Road, Bee Hooi is popular among locals and serves one of the best oyster omelettes on the island. Along with a sour yet spicy chilli sauce, the perfectly fried omelette features fresh, plump oysters.
415, Jalan Burma, Pulau Tikus, 10350 George Town, Pulau Pinang. (Link to Location Map)
6pm – 12am (Closed on Tuesdays)
2. Seng Thor Coffee Shop
One of the best oyster omelettes in Penang, Seng Thor has been in the game for about 50 years and is manned by the second generation. More crispy than gooey, this dish comes with chilli sauce mixed with a bit of garlic, which gives it a bit of a kick.
160, Lebuh Carnarvon, 10100, George Town, Penang. (Link to Location Map)
2pm – 5pm (Daily)
Penang’s laksa is one of the most authentic foods you can find in the state. With thick broth brimming with the state’s signature prawn paste and shredded mackerel, covering thick rice noodles, this dish is sweet, sour and spicy all at once, and perfectly balanced at the same time.
1. Ayer Itam Laksa
With over 66 years of history, the Ayer Itam has been the go-to for a lot of tourists and locals alike, especially ones coming down from Penang’s famous Kek Lok Si Temple. Long been close to the hearts of many, Ayer Itam Laksa has since reopened after a 6-month hiatus and is now open only during the weekends.
1, Jalan Pasar, 11500, Ayer Itam, Penang. (Link to Location Map)
11am – 5pm (Weekends only)
2. Kim Laksa @ Nan Guang Coffee Shop
Kim’s Laksa is one of the more traditional laksa in Penang, and is a favourite among the locals. Situated in Nan Guang Coffee Shop, Kim Laksa have been operating out of the old wooden corner shoplot for the past 80 years.
20, Jalan Sungai Air Putih, Bandar Baru Air Putih, 11000 Balik Pulau, Pulau Pinang. (Link to Location Map)
10am – 5pm (Closed on Tuesdays)
This style of Rojak is unique to the Northern parts of Malaysia and is essentially a mixed platter filled with your choice of tofu, fishcakes, prawn fritters, fried dumplings, fish fritters, fried prawns, skewered fishballs, steamed potatoes, sausages, fried beancurd, spicy fried crab, fried squid and many more! Whatever you picked will then be topped off with shredded cucumber and beansprouts and doused in a sweet and spicy nut sauce.
1. Tammin Pasembor Rojak
Located on Bangkok Lane, Tammin’s Rojak comes with a generous serving of nutty sauce and red squid. It shares a shop with an equally popular mee goreng stall.
270, Jalan Burma, George Town, 10250 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia. (Link to Location Map)
8am – 6pm (Closed on Mondays)
2. Famous Stall No.9 Gurney Drive
A more touristy spot, this stall serves a wide array of ingredients to choose from and they are especially known for their prawn fritters. Be careful when picking what you want though, each item has its own price and some aren’t labelled clearly.
5, Gurney Dr, Georgetown, 10250 George Town, Penang, Malaysia. (Link to Location Map)
4pm – 11.30pm (Daily)
Penang’s Hokkien Mee is vastly different than Kuala Lumpur’s. Penang’s version is a flavourful soupy goodness, comprising yellow noodles in shrimp and pork broth.
1. Mu Tong Hokkien Mee @ The Shark Food Court
With over 60 years of culinary history, Mu Tong’s Hokkien Mee is regarded by many as “liquid gold”. Previously at Sin Hwa Coffee Shop before moving to The Shark Food Court, people have remained loyal to their thick, aromatic concoction despite their relocation.
192, Jalan Burma, Kampung Syed, 10350 George Town, Pulau Pinang. (Link to Location Map)
7.30am – 11.45pm (Closed on Mondays)
2. Ah Koo’s Hokkien Mee @ Classic Cafe
Be prepared to wait quite a bit for your meal! During peak hours, waiting time is at least half an hour for some of the best Hokkien Mee in Penang. Their broth is on the thicker side, and is saturated with flavour.
126 Jalan Perak, 10450 George Town, Pulau Pinang. (Link to Location Map)
8am – 11.30am (Closed on Tuesdays)
Instead of the thick gravy you’re accustomed to in Indian curries, Penang’s version of the dish has vermicelli noodles and a milder curry broth flavour. The broth is made fragrant with coconut milk and comes with a chilli sambal that you can use to adjust your level of spiciness. The dish is then topped with poached chicken, prawns, cuttlefish, fish cake, fried tofu puffs, boiled eggs, long beans and bean sprouts.
1. Chulia Street
One of the best places for street food! The stall that serves Curry Mee has amazing chilli sambal along with aromatic coconut milk broth. They also have an excellent Wan Tan Mee!
1C, Lebuh Carnarvon, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang. (Link to Location Map)
4.15pm – 9.45pm (Closed on Sundays and Mondays)
2. Ayer Itam Sister Curry Mee
This Curry Mee is a unique one! The broth has the special ingredient of cuttlefish chilli base and is cooked over a charcoal stove. They have been operating for decades and the stall is now managed by the second generation.
612 T, Jalan Air Itam, Pekan Ayer Itam, 11500 Ayer Itam, Pulau Pinang. (Link to Location Map)
7.30am – 1pm (Closed on Tuesdays)
Also known as Tau Sar Piah, Tambun biscuits are small round biscuits the size of a ping pong ball. They’re oven-baked balls of flaky pastry filled with grounded green beans. Some of them even come in flavours like pandan.
1. Him Heang
One of the famous brands of pastries in Penang, Him Heang’s pastries are free from preservatives and are best consumed fresh.
162, Jalan Burma, 10050 Penang, Malaysia. (Link to Location Map)
8.30am – 5.00pm (Closed on Sundays)
2. Ghee Heang
The most iconic pastry manufacturer in Penang, Ghee Hiang has been around since 1856. Their traditional pastries are hand made with passion, and only the finest quality pastries are served to their loyal customers. With a rich blend of green beans and a hint of fried onions encased in a light fluffy pastry, this is a must-try!
They have four locations in Penang, you can find them here https://ghee-hiang.com/find-us/
A variation on mixed rice, Nasi Kandar is basically a plate of steamed rice with your choice of side dishes and lots and lots of curry! From thinner, milder curries to thicker, more robust gravies, people usually opt to mix all of the curries and have a side of meat or veggies on top! The result? A decadent rice dish absolutely smothered in aromatic flavourful curry!
1. Hameediyah Restaurant
Been around since 1907, Hameediyah Restaurant is the oldest Nasi Kandar Restaurant in Malaysia and was even visited by the Agong one time! Generations of the same family have stuck to the same masala that has been the base of all their curries.
164, Lebuh Campbell, George Town, 10100 George Town, Pulau Pinang. (Link to Location Map)
10am – 10pm (Sunday to Thursday)
10am – 12.30pm, 3pm – 10pm (Friday)
2. Nasi Kandar Line Clear
Nasi Kandar Line Clear operates 24 hours a day, filling your Nasi Kandar needs no matter the hour! Located inside an alleyway along Penang Road, it is one of the most famous Nasi Kandar places in Penang.
177, Jalan Penang, 10000, George Town, Penang. (Link to Location Map)
Penang’s Cendol or Chendul is different than other places because more coconuts and pandan leaves are used, giving it a richer flavour compared to Malacca’s Cendol, which is sweeter due to the more liberal use of Gula Melaka.
1. Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul Ice Kacang
Originally a small pushcart tucked in Penang Road, they now have multiple outlets even in Selangor! Still, you can find the original one and enjoy a bowl of delicious cendol immersed in over 80 years of history.
Jalan Penang, George Town, 10450 George Town, Pulau Pinang. (Link to Location Map)
10.30am – 7pm (Weekdays)
10.30am – 7.30pm (Weekends)
2. Cendol Asli Pak Haji
Besides the original cendol, Pak Haji has a myriad of other flavours, with seasonal fruits like durian, cempedak and mango. You can even get your cendol in a cup to go and sip your cendol through a straw!
Kampung Batu Feringgi, Batu Feringghi, 11100, George Town, Penang. (Link to Location Map)
12pm – 6pm (Monday – Thursday & Saturday)
12pm – 4pm (Friday & Sunday)
Even if you’re a little pressed for time, doesn’t mean that you can still enjoy every dish on this list! Hawker centres offer a large variety of iconic Penang dishes and most of them have been cooking up a storm for years, making their signature dishes a favourite of many.
1. New Lane Hawker Centre
As the day darkens, the lane along Lorong Baru closes down and stalls begin to open up. The Char Kuay Teow here is especially popular, as well as oyster omelettes and porridge. Tables are especially limited though, so you might want to take them to go and enjoy it in the comforts of your hotel room.
Lorong Baru, George Town, 10450 George Town, Pulau Pinang. (Link to Location Map)
4 pm to 11 pm (Closed on Wednesdays)
2. Gurney Drive Hawker Centre
Gurney Drive is a hotspot for tourists and is one of the biggest open-air centres in the state. You’ll see some stalls having longer queues than others, which usually means that they’re especially popular, so be prepared for a bit of a waiting time.
172, Solok Gurney 1, Pulau Tikus, 10250 Jelutong, Pulau Pinang. (Link to Location Map)
4.30pm to 8pm (Closed on Tuesdays)
1. Pulau Tikus Night Stalls
In the day, it is a bustling morning market. At night, it is one of the busiest hawker centres in Penang. With a great variety of delicacies, their Kuay Teow Th’ng comes highly recommended, as well as their oyster omelette.
Jalan Burma, Pulau Tikus, 10350 George Town, Pulau Pinang. (Link to Location Map)
4pm – 9.30pm (Daily)