The annual Penang International Food Festival kicked off last weeked with a two-day street food fest in George Town’s banking quarter, Beach Street. On week-days, Beach Street is crawling with business people, bankers, traders, shipping executives, lawyers from the nearby law courts, and tourists. On weekends, when the trading houses and banks shut down, the streets are normally deserted. But not so last weekend when Beach Street and the arterial streets branching off it - Bishop Street, Church Street, etc. - were given over to hundreds of food stalls taking part on the Street Food Fest. I had an old friend from England visiting Penang with his family - good timing as they love street food. The fest started at 5pm, when the sun went down and Penang’s blistering 35degC/95degF day-time temperature started to fall. We started off our food tour on Downing Street, the starting point where up to 500 food stalls would line Beach Street, offering all manner of Penang street food:
The food choices were amazing:
Penang char koay teow (flat rice noodles) fried over high charcoal flames:
One of the best pasembur or Chinese rojak stalls on the island (from Batu Lanchang Market) made its appearance there.
Quite a few Malay satay stalls, and one would be hard-pressed to find a “bad” one.
Kambing bakar - Malay-style whole roasted goat was very popular, the whole thing reduced to its skeletal carcass within an hour of selling.
Malay-style dim sum, which was essentially a “halal” version of Chinese dim sum sans pork, which is substituted by chicken meat.
Malay-style spiced broth made from a whole cow’s head (to be served with rice or baguette)
Chinese-style dried cuttlefish, served with water spinach, dressed in a spicy rojak (chilis-palm sugar-fermented shrimp paste) dressing.
Malay-style kueh cara manis and kueh dangai.
There’s a carnival-like atmosphere permeating the whole place:
The crowds started to thicken by 8pm as dinner-time approaches.
The PIFF 2019 runs until 28 April, with different food-themed events happening every day.