First 24 hours in Penang, Malaysia

We had a great trip to Penang back in March, and I’m finally getting around to posting a report and pictures.

I initially posted about the trip here and then continued reading up until the trip. Penang was always a dream destination of mine because of the food (which I’d read about for so long on Chowhound) and I am happy to say it lived up to my expectations, largely because of the great hospitality from Klyeoh, who we ended up sharing several meals with!

Things are already a little foggy since we ate so much and it was a few weeks ago, but I’ll try to post lots of pictures with descriptions.

Our first meal in Malaysia was at Tek Sen. We were jetlagged and hungry, so it worked out well to get to Tek Sen at 5 PM, about 30 mins before they opened. We were about the 4th group there, so we were able to be on the waitlist to be seated first. Good deal!

We ordered the double roasted pork with chili padi; the fried homemade tofu with prawn, dried scallop and egg; and stir fried kang kung with sambal sauce and prawns. Also one order of rice.

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Everything was delicious, especially the pork (which was like pork candy) and the tofu (which had the best texture). A great start to the time in Penang! By the time we left at 6:30 PM, there was a huge wait.

We didn’t eat anything else that night, but we walked past the food stalls on Kimberly St. around sunset and I took this picture. It is now laughable that I was worried about not finding good food for dinner in Penang. There is SO MUCH FOOD EVERYWHERE at all hours. We did try a small coconut pancake from a lady making them in a little cart up on Chulia St.


We were up early on Monday morning, and headed to Soon Yuen Coffeeshop for breakfast! I love the format of how food works at kopitiams in Malaysia – you order drinks from the restaurant, and food from whatever stall you want. You pay for the food separately. This was a little confusing at first (since we didn’t know this ahead of time) but we quickly figured it out. Chee cheong fun here was amazing (so fresh!) and the wonton mee was quite good too. The noodle soup (koay teow th’ng) was comforting and very good, though not as good as the version of this we’d have the next day in Air Itam market. This restaurant was bustling and lively at 7:30 AM, and there was an outdoor market along the street too.

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At 9:30 AM, we were picked up for our cooking class in Pulau Tikus. We took the cooking class at Penang Homecooking School. While not super cheap (around $65 USD per person), the class was informative and we learned to make delicious food. The teacher was excellent and thorough, and the workspace in the outdoor kitchen was nice. Because I had been the first to sign up, I got to choose the menu! We made curry tumis fish (my favorite dish from Sedap in London), beef rendang, and otak otak (fish mouse in banana leaf). Everything was great! Especially the otak otak which I am excited to try at home.

Prior to the cooking class, we took a long tour of the Pulau Tikus market, and also tried some snack foods. Picked up fresh jackfruit and pineapple (not pictured), tried the pandan flavored string hoppers w/ jaggery (these were actually not amazing, but were cool to watch them make), and a peanut cake that was delicious!

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The cooking class lasted until almost 2, so our stomachs needed some resting before meeting up with Klyeoh at 5:30 PM. In true Chowhound/HungryOnion Fashion, we journeyed with Klyeoh to three different places to try food! First stop was Cowboy Street Cafe where we tried some fried meat dishes (very good, with crispy exterior due to the bean curd skin wrapper), a red wine chicken dish (I was not a huge fan), and a curry chicken dish served in a bread bowl. I am not clear on the details of this place, but klyeoh describes it all here

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After this, the three of us went to the New Lane Street Food Stalls, which was essentially another kopitiam with around 15-20 different stalls set up around it. Very lively and crowded and fun. The woman who ran the coffee shop was funny and quite the character. We tried char koay teow here that was very good, some oyster omelette, and two similar noodle dishes with a thick sauce. Sorry I am totally not doing a good job naming dishes…

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After hanging out here a while, we walked down to a Chinese dessert place called Tong Sui Po. Had three desserts:


A cold mango with sago and pomelo (?), a pandan pudding dish, and a peanut/sesame yin yang hot dessert. I liked all of them and ate happily despite not being the LEAST bit hungry by this point :slight_smile:

So I guess this was technically like the first 28 hours, but you get the idea…more to come! Looking forward to more details from klyeoh.

Also, in case anyone reads this and wonders “Will I like the food in Penang?” the answer is YES!


What. A. Report. I am swooning over the variety of dishes. Thank you for sharing what looks like an incredible adventure.

I constantly dream of returning to Penang. Thanks for this fun report.

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At Sin Yin Nam Cafe on New Lane/Lorong Baru, we ordered the “Sar Hor Fun”, a Cantonese term (in Mandarin, it’s “Shahe fen”) on the left; and “Yee Fu Mee” on the right.

Sar Hor Fun also refers to the thick, wide rice noodle originating from the district of Shahe in Guangdong Province, China. For this dish, in Penang, it’s usually mixed with rice vermicelli (Cantonese: mai fun, Mandarin: mǐfěn, Hokkien: beehoon) for their contrasting yet complimentary textures when cooked for “sar hor fun”, the dish.

Yee Fu Mee is a thick, spongey pre-deep-fried noodle which is soaked to rehydrate before use. “Yee fu mee” is then fried in lard, light & dark soysauces before being plated. A thick, very savoury, eggy, garlic-scented sauce made with braised pork, shrimps, pig’s liver and choy sum vegetables are then poured over the noodles before serving. This sauce is the same as the one used for the “sar hor fun” dish above, as mentioned by @vamped.

The oyster omelette dish is the “Oh Chien”, a popular dish of Teochew/Chaozhou and Hokkien/Fujian origins, done very, very well in Penang. I had the dish in Taiwan (Taipei, Kaohsiung) where lettuce leaves are folded into the omelette, which is then served with a bland sauce which tasted a bit of soysauce. In Malaysia/Singapore, it’s served with an intense chili sauce, often spiked with lime juice to cut through the omelette which will contain a gelatinous element made from addition of tapioca flour slurry added to the beaten egg omelette during the frying phase.

The desserts at Tong Sui Po were:

  • Chilled mango puree-mango chunks-pomelo-sago.
  • Chilled pandan-scented tau hu hua or soft beancurd, served with Gula Melaka/palm sugar.
  • Yin Yang dessert, which is a duo of peanut paste and black sesame paste.

Day 2 report can be found here.

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