[Penang] Thai favourites at Blue Chang

Two-month-old Blue Chang is the latest Thai restaurant to hit Penang. The strange thing about Penang is that, although the island is only 70 miles from Thailand and has strong historical and cultural links with Thailand for centuries, it’s rather hard to find authentic Thai cuisine in Penang. Most so-called Thai restaurants have had their cooking tweaked to suit the Penang palate - less spicy, less sweet, less usage of Thai holy basil, fish sauce (nam pla), etc. Cooking techniques in Penang also resembled Indian & Indonesian/Sumateran techniques more than Thai ones.

Which was why we were absolutely delighted to discover that Blue Chang (“chang” is Thai for “elephant”, so the restaurant name should actually be “Blue Elephant”) has not localised its cooking here in Penang … yet. The restaurant is located in Pulau Tikus, a mere 10 minutes’ walk from Bangkok Lane and the Siamese settlement, and the beautiful Wat Chaiyamangkalaram, Penang’s largest Thai temple.

Blue Chang restaurant on Lorong Aman:

  1. Blue Chang serves two different options of the Thai iced tea - the usual “red” tea and the “matcha” green tea: both are good, with the matcha version infused with a jasmine scent much liked by Thais, but which non-Thais may find a bit too assertive.

  1. We started off with the Tom Kha Kai - the chicken-galangal-coconut milk soup which I absolutely adored, but is almost impossible to find in Malaysia, and especially in Penang, where the ubiquitous tom yum holds sway. The rendition here at Blue Chang was perfect:

  2. The fish maw omelette here was pretty good - showcasing very good cooking techniques here but unfortunately let down by a dearth of fish maw in its largely eggy concoction.

  3. Panaeng Muu (Pork Curry) is interesting: a well-known Thai take on Penang-style curry, or rather, what Thais think Penang-style curries are like. Of course, this Indian-influenced dish is nothing like any of the many types of curries one finds in Penang. Still, it’s pretty interesting to have a Panaeng curry in Penang. Very spicy rendition, though. The Penang palate rivals that of the Thais when it comes to chilis.

  4. Goong Ob Woon Sen (Claypot prawns and glass noodles) - this is a Thai-Taechiu dish, much influenced by Bangkok’s large Chaozhou/Chiuchow populace: a tasty claypot dish with garlicky, coriander root and soysauce-infused glass noodles enfolding sweet prawns. Delish.

  1. Hor Mok Talay - this is the classic Thai spicy seafood mousse, perhaps the weakest dish we had for lunch today. Wrapped in Chinese white cabbage leaves, the whole dish was rather overwhelmed by the use of copious amounts of Thai holy basil.

  1. We were greedy, and the last dish we had was actually the Pad Kee Mao, a one-dish meal which doesn’t really fit into our lunch spread. The version here was also pretty average, again a case of good cooking technique but let down by less-than-stellar quality of ingredients used.

But overall, we really liked Blue Chang. At the moment, it’s the closest thing we have to a Bangkok eatery. Its decor is rather spartan, predictably mainly elephant-themed. But the highlight here is the cooking by its Thai kitchen crew.

Blue Chang Modern Thai Cuisine
417 Jalan Burmah (Burmah Road), Pulau Tikus (enter by Lorong Aman, off Jalan Berjaya), 10350 Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +6010-274 7351
Opening hours: 12noon-2.30pm, 6pm-10.30pm Mon-Sat. Closed on Sundays.


As ever, the world over, I suppose. I was in a local Thai place a while back. The dish I was ordering could be cooked mild, medium or spicy. Now that’s usually nonsensical unless you’ve been before and know what their starting point is. Anyway, I say to the server “spicy, please”. She looks at me with what I took to be a wry smile and says “English spicy or Thai spicy”. At which point I took a deep breath and then bottled out and ordered “English”. Which was probably just as well as it was ferocious.

By the by, we’ve just had a short TV series “Recipes that made me”. The presenter is of Indian heritage - a lawyer turned mini-chain restaurant owner. She visits four UK communities - Punjabi, Sri Lankan, Kashmiri and Bangladeshi, mainly to try home cooked food. So different from standard restaurant offerings. By the by, I’ve eaten home cooked Punjabi food before at a “secret supper club” near Manchester.


We get the BBC Lifestyle channel here in Singapore/Malaysia, but “Recipes That Made Me” is not here yet, and I’m really looking forward to it. Currently, we’re still having re-runs of Cyrus Todiwala and Tony Singh’s “The Incredible Spice Men”. “The Great British Bake Off” is perhaps the most successful series on the channel.

For me, Sri Lankan takes the cake here when it comes to blow-your-mind spicy.

Have you eaten Todiwala’s food? If not, put it on your list for your next UK trip. Really good.

Oh yes, I ate at Cafe Spice Namaste since the beginning. Groundbreaking stuff from him where Indian food in London is concerned.

Our order was taken by Mrs Todiwala who explained that the lamb dhaansak was an entirely authentic Parsee dish. Now, I’m not usually swayed by claims of “authentic” but Mrs T also pointed out that they are Parsees and regard this dish as “our equivalent of a English Sunday roast”. Just had to be ordered and it was fantastic.

The Parsees/Parsis - a tiny community that punches above its weight in India. They are Zoroastrians, and trekked thousands of miles to India from Persia in the 8th-century to escape persecution by the Muslims, carrying with them the eternal flame (sacred to their religion) which they had to keep continuously burning (like an Olympic torch flame) throughout their arduous journey across mountain ranges and vast expanses of deserts. This flame is now kept burning in their fire temples in Mumbai and other Indian cities where the 100,000-strong community live.

During the good old days when Chowhound was a vibrant community, we once had a Parsi dinner at the Bombay Brasserie in London, organised by intrepid Hound and Indian culinary expert, Howler:

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Thanks for the link, Peter.

There’s a comment from Howler that I was missed, so I must have originally thought of attending. Living 200 miles away from London is a pain with regards to these sort of things. I gained so much knowledge about Indian cuisine reading his posts on CH.

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Yes, most UK Chowhounds were there - Limster, June Silverman, Justin, Dean, etc. You were indeed missed. :grin:

By the by, June came over to HO with us but I can’t recall seeng a post from her in ages.

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How time flies - Blue Chang is now into its 6th year of operation and has gone from strength to strength.

We were back there for dinner last night, after a long while - and especially not since the COVID lockdowns started back in Mar 2020. The place is very popular nowadays, and was packed last night.

The cooking standards, and ingredients used, all showed marked improvement from its early days of operation. We ordered:

  1. Appetiser platter: sate muu (pork skewers), tod mun goong (prawn cakes), som tum (Thai green papaya salad) and tod mun pla (fish cakes).

  2. Lump crabmeat omelette.

  3. Minced pork and basil, with century eggs.

  4. Lump crabmeat and egg curry.

  5. Gai-lan vegetables cooked two-ways: poached stems with oyster sauce, and crisp-fried, julienned leaves.

  6. Pad kee mao (braised broad rice noodles with squid & prawns)

  7. Cha yen (Thai iced milk tea)

  8. Tub tim krob (water chestnut & jackfruit dessert)

Definitely one of the top three Thai places in Penang at the moment. The other two good ones in town are Michelin-rated Thara Thai and relative newbie, Nest Khun Thai.


The “How do I order food to be the right level of spicey?” question has always tormented me. LOL!
There were two restaurants next to my home, Bangkok Golden and Hong Kong Palace. (Of course they were actually Lao and Szechuan restaurants but that is not the point.)
In the course of a month I ordered a dish at each and was asked by the waiter at each of the places, “How spicy do you want it?” I looked at each of them, smiled a bit, and said, “I like it spicey.”
At Bangkok Golden (now Padaek) I got a tasty but mild Laab Mu. Good but not Lao.
At Hong Kong Palace I ordered the Szechuan Cumin Lamb, I said pretty much the same words. The waiter kind of smiled & gave the ghost of a nod. And I got a plate of szechuan chilis with the odd thread of lamb, nearly unencumbered with cumin. I like it hot, but this dish had the sweat pouring off the back of my neck so profusely my shirt was wet enough to make me go home and change it.
I wish you could just say, “I would like my dish to be in the 200,000 to 300,000 range on the Scoville meter”. Because if you do not look familiar to the waiter or waitress, there is no real way for them to interpret your statement because their scale is completely different than most of the punters they see come through their dining rooms.


Just a reference back to the earlier posts about Parsi food. My favourite Mumbai street food restaurant is owned by a guy from the city and his business partner who is Iranian. In a nod towards her heritage and the city’s Irani cafes, they hold a “Parsi week” with a special menu. I’ve been away for the two years when they’ve run it but hope to be around this year.

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That sounded so interesting - I look forward to you sharing your dining experience there when it finally happens.

I may be going to Mumbai towards the end of this year - it’s the trip that was postponed back in 2020 because of the COVID lockdowns. But we’re also planning to take in Kerala this time round, and maybe even Goa.

The Mumbai leg is to visit the Parsi cafes, of course: which was one of the initial objectives for this India trip.

I remember you mentioning your planned trip was Covid-ed.

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Yes, we are now hoping to resume our food travels!


How time flies - 5 years had passed since Blue Chang opened its doors. And it’s still up there as one of Penang’s top Thai spots.

We were back again recently. Their Thai iced tea, and the matcha (green tea) versions are still around, although I noticed that the jasmine scent - which would appeal more to Thais than to Malaysians - have largely disappeared. That’s what localisation of a foreign cuisine does, and not sure if I completely agree to that.

Thankfully, they did not tinker too much with the other dishes, which still retained a respectable semblance to authentic Thai cuisine.

  1. 𝘛𝘰𝘮 𝘺𝘶𝘮 𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘯𝘨. One of the best renditions in town, without a doubt - fresh prawns, and very fresh herbs and spices used.
    Explosive small red chili peppers floated underneath the surface of the soup like mini-sea mines. Not exactly my cup of tea - as I don’t take too spicy - but my dining companions all loved it.

  2. 𝘒𝘩𝘢𝘰 𝘱𝘢𝘥 𝘱𝘶 (crabmeat fried rice) with 𝘬𝘢𝘪 𝘧𝘶 𝘱𝘶 (crab omelette) and 𝘱𝘰 𝘱𝘪𝘢 𝘵𝘰𝘥 (spring rolls). This was the dish that brought us back here this evening - Blue Chang’s social media pages touted its rendition of legendary Bangkok Michelin-starred eatery, Jay Fai’s famous crabmeat omelette.

Whilst the Bangkok one was a gargantuan work of edible art, Blue Chang’s more humble version looked more akin to a fat Cuban cigar, rather than Jay Fai’s mini-football. But it was all-crabmeat, with just enough egg to hold the whole thing together.

It was also served with crabmeat fried rice, which was absolutely delish.

  1. Crisp-fried 𝘨𝘢𝘪-𝘭𝘢𝘯 leaves with blanched 𝘨𝘢𝘪-𝘭𝘢𝘯 stems, topped with oyster sauce. This was one of my fave orders at Blue Chang: the confetti-like deep-fried 𝘨𝘢𝘪-𝘭𝘢𝘯 leaves went well with practically anything.

  2. Spicy garlic lime scallops - this was the surprise of the evening, as the fat, orange-roed scallops were very fresh, and the light, sharp chili-spiked garlic-lime dressing lifted the shellfish to another level in terms of flavours.

  3. 𝘚𝘢-𝘵𝘰𝘳 (stink beans/petai) with prawns. This dish was heavily-spiced with chili paste and fermented shrimp-paste. The combination was literally marriage-made-in-heaven, as the heavy spices complemented the strong-smelling beans perfectly.

  4. 𝘗𝘢𝘥 𝘬𝘦𝘦 𝘮𝘢𝘰 - “drunken” spicy seafood 𝘩𝘰𝘳 𝘧𝘶𝘯. We thought of ordering this dish, since we came for the Jay Fai-inspired crab omelette, and to Bangkokians, Jay Fai was actually known for this noodle dish, before Western food writers and bloggers raved about the crab omelette.
    Blue Chang’s pad kee mao was nice, but the necessary table condiments - chili flakes, lime juice, vinegar, sugar - were missing: another victim of “localisation”.

Overall, another good meal at Blue Chang, still a must-visit if one’s hankering for Thai food in Penang.