[Penang, Malaysia] Ethnic-Malay plate lunches from ๐—ก๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ถ ๐— ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ฎ๐˜†๐˜‚ ๐— ๐—ฎ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ฑ๐—ถ & ๐—ก๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—ฒ ๐—ก๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ถ ๐— ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ฎ๐˜†๐˜‚

One of the best-known spots for a Malay plate lunch meal in Penang is ๐—ก๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ถ ๐— ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ฎ๐˜†๐˜‚ ๐— ๐—ฎ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ฑ๐—ถ near the Tanjung Tokong UDA flats. Itโ€™s a little stall within a food court located in a working-class neighborhood.

Run by the husband-and-wife team of Mahadi Taib and Normah Ibrahim, the famous eatery was actually started by Normahโ€™s elder sister, Norbee Ibrahim, 70. Norbee used to sell nasi Melayu at Tanjung Tokong village, but moved her business into a foodcourt next to the Tanjung Tokong UDA flats in 1987 when the village was demolished to make way for the council flat project.

Norbee and Normah both hailed from a family well-known in the Tanjung Bungah & Tanjung Tokong areas for their culinary prowess โ€“ coming from a family of 17 siblings, their elder sister, Lallbee Ibrahim, 74, had started selling nasi Melayu from a push-cart in 1976, and her business expanded through the decades, in tandem with the growth of Batu Ferringhi and Tanjung Bungah as tourist spots. Today, Lallbeeโ€™s own eatery has become the ever-popular ๐—ก๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ถ ๐— ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ฎ๐˜†๐˜‚ ๐—Ÿ๐—ถ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฎ (named after her two daughters, Lizawati and Nurdiana), set up on a hill-slope overlooking the Floating Mosque, in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami which swept away their old premises by the sea.

Over at ๐—ก๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ถ ๐— ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ฎ๐˜†๐˜‚ ๐— ๐—ฎ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ฑ๐—ถ, business is usually very brisk, and one needs to be early to catch the more popular dishes before they sell out. One queues up and select oneโ€™s own choice of dishes from the self-service food counter, then pay for oneโ€™s purchase at the cash counter. Many curried dishes to choose from, but I always thought their pajeri nenas - lightly-spiced pineapple - is a must-have.

Our plate lunch sets:

Mine consisted of: hati ayam goreng sambal (fried chicken livers & offal, slathered with spicy red sambal sauce), kacang goreng kunyit (French beans & julienned carrots stir-fried with fresh turmeric), tauhu goreng (deep-fried tofu, smothered with a spicy peanut sauce), ayam goreng hitam (fried chicken in a spiced, dark soy sauce dressing) and pajeri nenas (spicy-sweet-sour cooked pineapple).

My lunch partnerโ€™s plate: ayam masak hitam, telur dadar (Malay-Indonesian-style egg omelette, usually eggs with chopped onions & sliced chilis), kacang goreng (spicy-sour caramelized groundnuts & fermented soybeans/tempe, peria masak kunyit (stir-fried bittergourd with carrots in turmeric, ikan masak lemak (curried fish with coconut milk & fresh turmeric) and kacang buncis (boiled okra).

Gerai No. 9, Flat UDA Tanjung Tokong
10470, Jalan Tanjung Tokong, 11200 Tanjung Bungah, Penang, Malaysia
Opening hours: 9am to 3pm, Mon to Fri, Sun. Closed on Saturdays.

The placemark to look for is the UDA Tanjung Tokong government low-cost flats. The food court is right next to the blocks of flats.


An interesting development occurred since I was there last month. We went back to Nasi Melayu Mahadi for lunch today, and was taken aback to see the signage changed to Norbee Nasi Melayu.

Elder sister, Norbee, whoโ€™d taken a 3-year hiatus to look after her ailing husband, had made a comeback 3 weeks ago. She promptly took back the original spot which sheโ€™d given over to her sister and brother-in-law, and has now resumed her cooking full-time, with her son, Husaine, running the stall upfront.

There were 3 of us this time for lunch - my lunch companions were fellow members of the Penang Walkabouts social group.

My favorite lunch item today was limpa masak hitam - beef lung, twice-cooked: deep-fried then braised in a dark soy sauce gravy. The result were toothsome slivers of lung covered with an unctuous, glistening dark sauce. Absolutely delicious.

We noticed Husaine busy serving out cooked-to-order fish-head curry. We need to return for that:

For the loyal fans of ๐—ก๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ถ ๐— ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ฎ๐˜†๐˜‚ ๐— ๐—ฎ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ฑ๐—ถ, fret not - it has only moved to a space round the corner at the same food court. So, the two sisters now have rival nasi Melayu food-stalls side-by-side!

Operating hours for both Norbee Nasi Melayu and Nasi Melayu Mahadi are the same.


My only experience of eating lung was not good. It was in a Frito Mallorquin cooked by the mother of my BiL. There were these bits of impossibly chewy and generally unpleasant meat which we managed to cut into small enough pieces to just swallow. Didnt find out what it was until after we left. Rest of it was lovely so I canโ€™t blame her cooking.

1 Like

Oh my. I can just picture your hostess looking at you all as you ate, whilst you all chewed and beamed back at her with rictus smiles. :joy:

Truth be told - I did not intend to choose lung! The dishes laid out at the self-service counter were not labelled, and we merely selected what caught our fancy. Smothered in a pitch-black, glistening sauce, looking like some albatross caught in a North Sea oil slick, those lung pieces actually looked like thinly-sliced beef to my untrained eye. Then, as I ate, I was thinking, โ€œHmmm, beef jerkyโ€.

It was only after our meal when the proprietor, Husaine, came and chatted with us, that I l found out what I just had. He looked at me and said, โ€œAh, I see you liked the lung. Not many non-Malays would eat that. In fact, I think you were the first Iโ€™d met who did.โ€ :open_mouth: