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Ready to Eat in George Town?!

Quick jump: Street Food-Meals | Street Food-Snacks | Restaurants-Chinese | Restaurants-Indian | Restaurants-Other | Drinks

Penang is famous for food.  In fact, one of the top destinations in the world for “street food”.  Many tourists visit for that reason alone.

Therefore, you are probably searching for some information on where to eat in Penang. We initially thought about creating an exhaustive list of every place we ever ate at on the island.  But exhaustive lists are exhausting to read.   Instead, we decided on a simple list of places where we enjoy and you can find us on any given week (we limited this list to the George Town area).  

If you need to narrow the list down a bit more, we put a “+” next to our favorites.  But if you want to try everything, then eat like a real Penangite - six meals a day with snacks in between!

If you have any questions on what to order or how to find these places, just leave us a comment below and we will do our best to help.



Street Food (hawker stalls on the street or in a coffeeshop)
Let’s get started with a simple truth about Penang street food: You can get great street food anywhere in Penang. 

While it is important to ask locals for recommendations, it may not be necessary to hike 2km to try a “famous” Char Koay Teow or Hokkien Mee or any other iconic Penang dish.  There is probably the same dish, which tastes just as good, right around the corner from where you’re standing.

Just a couple rules we generally follow with Penang street food: 1. If it’s busy, it’s good, and 2. If some old auntie or uncle is cooking, they have been in business a long time, which means the food is delicious. 

If you are in the neighborhood, try out some of these (in no particular order):


For a meal… 
Lebuh Chulia hawkers
Wait in line with the locals and try out the Wonton Mee or Curry Mee or both. 

Where: Across from 7-Eleven, or just walk down Lebuh Chulia at night and you can’t miss it.

When: 8pm-11pm

Lebuh Kimberly hawkers
For a meal, try a very local dish, Duck Koay Chiap (stewed duck soup), with handmade noodles. We go for a simple combination of pure duck meat (request this specifically to avoid any non-meat parts) and stewed egg with noodles.  If you are not feeling too adventurous, head over to Bee Hooi Coffee Garden nearby and try the Dai Lok Mee (dark sauce noodle) and the Belacan Fried Chicken.  But head back out on the street for dessert, to the Restaurant Traditional House of Dessert (Chinese desserts). For a warm dessert, try “Yu Char Kuih” (almond milk with crispy dough fritters), or for something cold, try a bowl of “shi gua tng”.
Where: Intersection of Lebuh Kimberly & Lebuh Cintra
When: Around 6pm-11pm (closed on Thursdays)



+ Wan Tan Mee @ Malay Street
With tables hiding in the five foot walkways at each corner of the intersection, forget trying to sit far away from this street stall, and find a table next to the cook.  His kung fu style of serving one of the best wonton mee in George Town will keep your finger on your camera trigger, trying to catch his lightning moves. 
Where: Intersection of Lebuh Melayu & Lorong Toh Aka
When: 12.30pm - 5.30pm (closed on weekends)

Joo Hooi Cafe  愉园餐室
This place can get busy, especially with regional tourists.  For a meal, try the Char Koay Teow.  And for dessert, try the Teochew Chendol or Ais Kacang right outside along Keng Kwee Street.  

Where: Intersection of Jalan Penang and Lebuh Keng Kwee
When: 11.30am - 5pm 



+ Keck Seng Coffee Shop  格成
My mom used to take me & my sisters here after school and after shopping on the weekend. For a meal, try the Lor Bak, Popiah, and Asam Laksa, and for dessert, try the Ais Kacang topped with homemade durian ice cream. 

Where: 382 Jalan Penang (opposite Komtar) 

Where: 11am - 4.30pm
 


+ Pitt Street Koay Teow Th’ng  椰腳粿條湯

We generally feel that you can get great hawker dishes all over George Town, but for Koay Teow Th’ng, we haven’t found any to compare to this one.  A nice hot bowl of flat-rice noodles with pork and homemade eel fish balls (don’t worry, it doesn’t look as strange as it sounds). The broth is fragrant, sweet, and clear.  Make sure to order a fresh nutmeg juice or pink apple juice, and a coconut tart for dessert.

Where: Lebuh Carnarvon, between Lebuh Prangin & Lebuh Melayu
When: 8am-2pm (closed on Mondays)

+ Beef Soup Koay Teow
One of the younger hawkers in George Town, you can't miss her sweet smile as she serves bowl after bowl of steaming beef noodle soup.  There are many options on the types of beef, but we usually order the beef slices only.  Try the fresh nutmeg juice too.  And if you are still hungry, try the fried oyster omelet from the other stall.
Where: Corner of Lebuh Chulia & Lebuh Pantai
When: Lunch (closed on Sundays)

Red Garden Food Paradise
A large open-air hawker center popular among tourists and the younger local crowd. The Japanese, Thai & seafood stalls are good, but avoid the local hawkers food here - it is better elsewhere and less expensive (see options noted above).
Where: 20, Lebuh Leith (same road as the famous Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion)
When: Evening

Nasi Kandar Beratur (Restaurant Liyaqatal)

For your late night cravings, this is the place to go.  Just be warned that there is always a long line, so be prepared to wait.  Try the fried chicken, squid, lady’s fingers, and a mix of all the curries.  Spicier and with more flavor than the usual Nasi Kandar.
Where: Right next to Kapitan Keling Mosque on Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling
When: 10pm – 3am (line starts forming around 9:30pm)

Mama’s One Ton Mee
Run by two cousins, the friendly women serve wonton noodle, prawn dumpling noodle, mushroom shanghai noodle, and different variations of Szechwan style noodles. The healthy mushroom shanghai noodle is our favorite.  (This is one of our regular lunch spots)  

Where: Lorong Susu (next to Sun Yat-Sen Center on Jalan Macalister)

When: 11am to 5:30pm (closed on Thursdays)

+ Siam Road Char Koay Teow
Reese's childhood Char Koay Teow. The old man has been cooking at the same spot for 50 years! 
Where: Intersection of Jalan Siam & Jalan Anson
When: around 3:30pm to 8pm, closed on Sundays

For a snack…

Eating between meals is every Penangite’s favorite pastime, so go ahead and munch on these while you walk around town:



+ Pisang Goreng (Banana fritters)

All sorts of interesting deep-fried snacks to choose from at this family run shop. 

Where: Entrance to Tan Jetty on Pengkalan Weld 

When: 2pm-6.30pm (closed on Sundays)

Toh Soon Cafe 多
This is the place to experience a local breakfast or take in an afternoon snack. We love their old-fashioned roti bakar with kaya (toast bread with coconut jam), a half-boiled egg, and a cup of strong Kopi-O (black coffee).

Where: Lebuh Campbell, near the intersection with Jalan Penang (it’s in a narrow alley)
When: 8am - 6:30pm (closed on Sundays)

Yu Char Kuih (crispy dough fritter)

Enjoy the fritter by dipping it into a cup of local black coffee or soya bean milk. 

Where: Lebuh Cintra, between Lebuh Campbell & Lebuh Kimberly
When: 7am - 4pm


Cintra Food Corner 餐室
If you still have room for another snack after Yu Char Kuih, just walk a few steps down the street and try the traditional Chinese dumplings 粽子, yam cake 芋 and their famous red bean soup 红豆汤.
Where: 40, Lebuh Cintra
When: 9am - 6pm (closed on Sundays)

+Ming Xiang Tai
Across the street from Tune Hotel, is a tiny, narrow shophouse selling fresh Portuguese egg tarts, Chinese crispy Siew Bao (BBQ pork buns), yam pastries, soya milk, dou fu fa (beancurd jelly), and more.  Recently renovated, this place is busier every time we go.  Don't visit Penang without stopping here for a snack.
Where: 133, Jalan Burma
When: 8am - 8pm, every day


Just a five minute walk down Jalan Dato Keramat (from Komtar) there are three interesting snack places on your left side.  If you go between 6pm-7pm, you can try all three! 

Putu Mayam (steamed rice noodles with grated coconut and palm sugar)
Where: On the sidewalk, right before Times Square mall
When: about 6pm – 11pm

Mr. Guna’s Apom (South Indian pancake)
Where: On a bicycle cart parked on the side of the road, one block past Times Square mall
When: Open Monday-Saturday, 5:30pm - 9pm  


Joez Coconut (home of Penang Coconut Jelly)
Where: Two blocks past Mr. Guna’s bicycle cart, in a shophouse filled with coconuts on your left.
When: Morning to 7pm

Restaurants
For a cleaner and healthier option than street food (note: I didn’t say clean and healthy), step into one of the many restaurants in George Town.  You will quickly realize that there is a lot more to Penang than just street food.
   
Chinese 
Some Chinese restaurants, like Tree Shade Seafood and Sin Kheng Aun Hainanese, do not carry menus. Don’t get intimidated. For two persons, the easiest way is to stick to the formula of 1 meat + 2 veg dishes or vice versa (with white rice). Feel free to ask for recommendations, but if you are on a budget, egg dishes are cheaper, and fish & prawn dishes tend to be the priciest.

+ Foong Wei Restaurant 风味餐館
Our personal favorite.  Try the prawn rolls and special spring rolls as appetizers.  For main course, try the chicken with plum sauce, stir-fry lotus roots, or fish curry.  No need to take our suggestions, since everything we have tried has been good.   

Where: Jalan Sri Bahari (just a block from the intersection of Lebuh Chulia and Jalan Penang)
When: Open for lunch and dinner

+ Tree Shade Seafood Restaurant

Okay, bring your camera to this place. The restaurant was basically built around a giant tree that blocks half of the entrance. Behind the tree, your menu is a long table with seafood and vegetables. You point to what seafood and vegetable items you would like to try and the worker will give you a few options for how you want it cooked. It’s a chaotic scene with workers running from table to table and cooks frying up all sorts of dishes right in front of you. Great food and a great experience!
Where: Pengkalan Weld (across the street from the Jetty Bus Terminal)
When: Open for lunch and dinner (closed on Wednesdays)


Goh Huat Seng Restaurant
Traditional Teochew steamboat with charcoal burner.  Just order a set (ask the worker to only give you the “normal” meat pieces), and have fun cooking and eating!
Where: 59 Lebuh Kimberly (intersection with Jalan Pintal Tali) 

When: 5pm - 9pm (closed on Mondays)



Sin Kheng Aun Hainanese Restaurant 新瓊安
Right off Chulia Street, this family run restaurant is another place without a menu, but the jolly owner will help you pick a few dishes.  Stick with the 2 veg + 1 meat formula or vice versa when taking recommendations.  Try the Hainanese Pork Chop dish.
Where: 2 Lorong Chulia
When: Open for lunch and dinner (closed on Mondays)



Teksen Restaurant
Perpetually busy with locals, this place serves up steaming, home-cooked Malaysian-Chinese dishes.  Try the asam prawns and sambal asparagus.
Where: 18 Lebuh Carnarvon (just off Chulia Street)
When: Lunch from Noon-2:30pm, Dinner from 6:00pm-9:00pm (closed on Tuesdays)

Indian
You can’t visit Penang without trying Indian food.

+ Rajammah Restaurant
A small, family-run banana leaf restaurant with excellent homemade, spicy curries and a "rice of the day", which can be either briyani, tomato, coconut, ghee, apple or mint.  The perfect place to try eating with your hand (don't worry, they provide forks and spoons if needed).  Best time to go is late afternoon when they fry up fresh vada - a South Indian snack.
Where: 38 Lebuh China (between Lebuh King & Lebuh Penang)
When: 6:30am - 11pm (open everyday)

+ Woodlands Vegetarian Restaurant 

This authentic South Indian restaurant serves great vegetarian dishes. The only trouble here is that there are too many choices.  For lunch, try one of the sets, and wash it down with a lime juice and/or masala tea or madras coffee.

Where: 60 Lebuh Penang (between Lebuh China & Lebuh Gereja)
When: 8:30am - 10pm

Tajuddin Hussain & Restoran Sultania
These two restaurants are side-by-side in Little India, which makes for a difficult choice.  Our recommendation is to start at Restoran Sultania for a light snack of charcoal roasted chapati or roti canai (pronounced "cha-nai"), and then walk over to Tajuddin Hussain for dinner.  Try a few meat and veggie dishes with rice or roti canai (fried bread) or roti telur (fried bread with egg).  For a drink, order a "limau ais" (lime juice with ice) to cool you down.
Where: 51 & 57 Lebuh Queen
When: All day, but after 6pm for roti canai and chapati (Tajuddin Hussain is closed on Sundays)

Sri Ananda Bahwan
There are actually two restaurants in Little India – a vegetarian and a non-vegetarian.  Since we usually end up at Woodlands for vegetarian food, we head over to Sri Ananda Bahwan for our Indian non-veg cravings.  Must try: Kothu Parotta (chicken, fried bread, vegetables, and spices all chopped up and fried to perfection).

Where: Non-veg: Intersection of Lebuh Penang & Lebuh China.
            Veg: Across the street from Woodlands, near the intersection of Lebuh Penang & Lebuh Gereja.
When: Open all day, and late into the night

+Annalakshmi at The Temple of Fine Arts

We love this Indian vegetarian buffet for its fresh selection, refreshing atmosphere, and friendly staff.  Located in a residential area not far from George Town, the Temple of Fine Arts also holds frequent performances from the local Indian community.  It’s definitely worth the short taxi ride.
Where: 1 Lebuhraya Babington (behind the Penang General Hospital)
When: Open for lunch and dinner (closed on Mondays)

Malay

+ Beach Street Ali Nasi Lemak  (coconut milk rice)

Served by a friendly Malay couple, this is one of the best Nasi Lemak in town. Wrapped in banana leaf, the spicy sambal will give you a real kick. 

Where: Sri Weld Food Court on Lebuh Pantai (between Lebuh Gereja & Lebuh Bishop)
 
When: 10am - 5pm

Nyonya/ Peranakan

Nyonya Breeze 
A simple air-conditioned restaurant that whips up authentic Penang Nyonya cuisine. Some of our favorite dishes are Sambal Goreng, Loh Bak, Otak-Otak and Fried Kangkong (river spinach). 

Where: 50 Lorong Abu Siti (near the intersection with Jalan Macalister)

When: Lunch (11.30 - 2.30pm), Dinner (6.30 - 10.30pm). Closed on Tuesdays.



Thai


+Sweet Cherry
Thanks to Penang’s close proximity to Thailand, we don’t need to travel up north when we crave quality Thai food.  Situated in a charming wooden kampung (village) house, Sweet Cherry serves dish after dish of delicious Thai food.

Where: 8 Jalan Clove Hall (between Jalan Burma & Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah)
When: Lunch (Noon - 3pm), Dinner (6pm – 10pm). Closed on Wednesdays.


Cool and hot drinks
A few places we end up at for a tea or a coffee or a cocktail.

Teh Tarik Stall
Experience the art of pulling tea.  We recommend asking for teh tarik - kurang manis (pulled tea - less sweet).  The stall also serves toast roasted over charcoal (roti bakar), and half boiled eggs. 
Where: along Lebuh Union, near the intersection with Lebuh Pantai (behind Standard Chartered Bank)
When: 6:30am - 7:30pm (closed Sundays)

Amelie Café
An absolutely tiny café with only four tables crammed inside. But we promise you’ll love the atmosphere, and of course the coffee and ice blended drinks.  

Where: 6  Lebuh Armenian (near intersection with Lebuh Pantai)
When: 10am - 7pm (closed on Mondays)

Chinese tea lady
We tend to wander around George Town at night and always end up enjoying a cool herbal tea or chrysanthemum tea from a Chinese auntie with a road-side cart.
Where: Lebuh Cintra (between Lebuh Campbell & Lebuh Kimberly)
When: Around 4pm-11pm

32 at the Mansion
An historic mansion on the oceanfront where you can sit outside with a cocktail, admiring the view, as a cool breeze flirts with your hair (Wow, we are overselling this one).  A band plays in the evenings.
Where: 32 Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah (just down the road from E&O Hotel)
When: Lunch, Happy Hour, Dinner

12 comments:

Mark andrews said...

Hi

Can I just say that your blog is amazing! My fiancée and I are visiting Penang in the next couple of days. I can't wait to try out all the food recommendations that you have provided, they all sound so delicious.

I was wondering if you could recommend any local vegetarian dishes for my fiancée? She knows all about the Indian dishes being from north India herself but is finding it hard eating local food in Malaysia. Maybe we aren't asking the right questions?

Thanks for your help and keep up the good work!

Mark

Reese said...

Hi Mark,

Thanks so much for your kind comments. I'm happy to help.

For veg food, we usually go to the Indian veg restaurants listed above.

You can ask for no meat for some local food. If she takes eggs, that gives her more options. From the restaurant list above, you can also get some good vegetable dishes.

We can give you some specific suggestions that are non-Indian if you like. Drop us an email at CapturingPenang(at)gmail(dot)com. We’ll get back to you at our soonest.

Well, you guys are coming to Penang at the right time. There will be two major vegetarian events going on starting 10 Oct. The Chinese one is Nine Emperor Gods Festival and the Indian one is Navarathiri Festival. There should be veg stalls all over.

Have a great trip!

Reese & Mark

Art Liew said...

thanks so much for posting all the information about the beautiful and delicious food in Penang. I was watching your you tube videos and that made me really hungry! My wife and i have been planning on visiting the birthplace of my mother, and look forward to trying out all the stores you mentioned once our baby is able to travel with us!

Reese said...

Thanks Art! Filming the food made me really hungry too:)

This list is ever changing, so do check back if you are headed to Penang.

We are amazed by how many tourists we see in Penang now with babies. Thought it might be too hot, but the babies seem to do just fine. I couldn't imagine it would be easy though, unless you park yourself at Batu Ferringhi at a resort.

Jay-P. said...

Some nice posts and videos there! We love Penang and visit the place about 4 times a year. Hoping to retire there later. Cheers.
Jay-P.

Reese said...

Hi Jay-P,

That's wonderful to hear that you are thinking about staying in Penang. Hope you decide to stay near to George Town and all the amazing food.

Best,

Reese

Reese said...

Hi Jay-P,

That's wonderful to hear that you are thinking about staying in Penang. Hope you decide to stay near to George Town and all the amazing food.

Best,

Reese

Jay-P. said...

Some nice posts and videos there! We love Penang and visit the place about 4 times a year. Hoping to retire there later. Cheers.
Jay-P.

Mark andrews said...

Hi

Can I just say that your blog is amazing! My fiancée and I are visiting Penang in the next couple of days. I can't wait to try out all the food recommendations that you have provided, they all sound so delicious.

I was wondering if you could recommend any local vegetarian dishes for my fiancée? She knows all about the Indian dishes being from north India herself but is finding it hard eating local food in Malaysia. Maybe we aren't asking the right questions?

Thanks for your help and keep up the good work!

Mark

dessert recipes said...

We stayed at Tune Hotel, downtown Penang and enjoyed our walk around...yes, while eating everything that looks good as we strolled along.

Art Liew said...

hi Reese.. we finally made it to Penang.. first time for my Singaporean wife and baby too... the food was, as predicted, amazing. Thanks for your information again.. there's just so much to eat there!! We flew into KL and hired a car, then drove up and stayed at the G Hotel on Guerney Drive... am secretly planning to retire in Penang! I do hope things don't change too much.

seasonwithspice said...

Hi Art - wonderful to hear that you & your family had a good time. Sorry to reply this late - we haven't had much time to do any updates. Sounds like you have had a fun eating trip. There's a lot of changes taking place in Penang these days - good and bad - like many people here, we hope it will be for the better. Have a great week!