Penang Street Food

There’s no beating Penang - the top street food destination in Malaysia - in terms of quality and spread of dishes available.
Some options I saw at the street food fair in King Street/Church Street/Bishop Street precinct yesterday:

  • Char Koay Kak (fried radish/rice cakes in soysauce, fish sauce, beansprouts, egg, salted radish, garlic).
  • Tau Hu Hwa (soybean curd, usually served with white sugar syrup in Singapore and elsewhere in Malaysia, but also available with palm sugar syrup in Penang).
  • Bubble tea
  • Sliders, with Chinese stewed pork & other fusion-Asian options
  • Malaysian desserts like cendol, bubur cha-cha, cendol, etc.

Sliders/mini-burgers, some with Chinese/Asian ingrediants:

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Lye Lye Food Court on Terengganu Lane has a large, varied collection of local hawker eats - all-Penang clientele here, and the food is kept simple and rustic. What I had here during my most recent visit on 5 Feb 2016:

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Sungei Pinang Food Court is a collection of itinerant hawkers who congregate at this spot on Sungei Pinang Road (right next to the Penang Japanese School) each morning, catering to the breakfast needs of Penangites on the way downtown from Jelutong, Perak Road, Bayan Baru, Minden Heights and Bukit Gelugor residential areas.

I find the food here to be even more rustic than I’m used to - catering more towards blue-collar workers working in the various vehicle workshops and factories along Sungei Pinang Road. The food here is not really to my taste, but I was curious as to the popularity of Sungei Penang Food Court among local diners.

What I had during my most recent visit here on 28 Jan 2016:

  • Wantan mee and sui kow:

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More Sungei Pinang Eats:


Jelutong morning market is another goldmine of good eats, especially in the morning when the wet market draws in the crowds. One of my fave breakfast spots there is a cluster of food stalls along Ipoh Lane nicknamed “Under the Big Tree” food stalls.

Some of the breakfast options there are:

  • Chinese-style “mee Jawa” - the version here is light and flavoursome, and one of the best-tasting ones I’d had in Penang.
  • Penang-style “chee cheong fun”.
  • Penang “char koay teow”.
  • Penang-style “wantan mee” - I liked the one here: the blend of dark soysauce, oyster sauce and lard in its dressing was tasty. A standard serving comes with one fried wantan and one poached wantan, besides the old-fashioned non-charred, non-caramelised “char siew” which is characteristic of old hawkers in Malaysia & Singapore.

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The popiah looks far more interesting than the rather more pale and somewhat bland version I had in Melaka. Will have to seek it out (along with lots of other stuff) when I’m next in Penang.

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Food pron! Everything looks delicious! Penang style popiah is quite different from what I had in Xiamen. The skin is the only thing I recognise.

I’m fond of cold silky tofu.

I have been looking through some old photos and planned to post the street food ones (mostly China/HK/Taiwan/Vietnam etc. Didn’t get a digicam til then).

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Presunto - Penang popiah is also pretty different from Singapore ones, where minced raw garlic is used as one of the flavour condiments. Penang’s best popiah is, IMO, the one at Padang Brown food centre - opens around 3pm each day. The crabmeat adds an additional sweetness in flavour.


Another popular dining precinct downtown for locals is the Presgrave Street Hawker Centre which opens in the evenings. It’s famous for the Hokkien noodle stall, although the wide variety of dining choices there make it a great one-stop spot to taste Penang hawker fare.

So far, the clientele is exclusively local, as this popular dinner/supper spot is still out of the radar of foreign visitors. Some of the hawker food items we tried at the most recent visit:

paprikaboy - I dislike Melakan popiah with a passion - over-rated and, as you’d experienced, very bland.

Thanks for the reports.

How does the soybean curd taste with the palm sugar syrup?

And when you said that the food and Sungei Pinang was too rustic, did you mean that they were not tasty, or shoddily made, or something else?

sck - the palm sugar gave the whole desert a deep, mellow flavour - sweet, with a slightly sourish after-taste. I really liked it.

Sungei Pinang’s hawker food lacked the subtle, delicious flavours I find in good hawker stalls. The ones here do seem shoddily cooked - I won’t recommend a special trip there. It’s one of those instances where being popular with the locals doesn’t mean the food is good.

I am guessing palm sugar is not heavily processed? That’s my gripe with highly processed sugar used often in soybean curd. All it tastes is one dimensional sugar and not much of anything else…

You got me interested about the palm sugar- next time if I come across it in the grocery aisles I am going to snatch myself a bag to try.

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Bessarabsky Market, Kyiv. Ukraine
Credit: Juan Antonio Segal, Flickr