[Penang] Vietnamese lunch at Anna Kitchen

My Penang-Vietnamese friends wanted to show me one of their favourite spots for some good, authentic Vietnamese food . As both are from the food industry - they were at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago and CUT in Singapore for many years before deciding to settle down in Penang and run their own restaurant, I put 100% trust in their judgement.

Anna Kitchen was just opened in Aug 2023, but their offerings have already garnered quite a bit of following amongst the Vietnamese community in Penang.

Our lunch today consisted of:

  1. Bánh Khọt (Pancakes with Shrimps and Vegetables) - these crisp-edged little morsels of sheer deliciousness reminded me somewhat of drop scones or silver dollar pancakes. Best eaten in a lettuce leaf wrap, garnished with fresh Vietnamese basil leaves and sweet pickled radish/carrots.

  1. Bò Nướng Lá Lốt (Grilled Beef rolled in Wild Betel Leaves) - one of my faves whenever I’m in Vietnam, and done very well here: grilled beef and pork lardons, wrapped in wild betel leaves, reminiscent somewhat of Greek dolmades or Lebanese warak enab

One thing I love about Vietnamese, specifically the Southern version, is their predilection wrapping food items in fresh leaves and then add garnishes.

Here, one would line a fresh rice paper wrapper with lettuce leaves, cucumber, mint leaves, Vietnamese basil, fresh rice noodles and chopped peanuts, before placing a bo lal ot on top. Simply outstanding here.

  1. Bánh Mi Heo Quay (Baguette with Crispy-Skinned Roast Pork) - the Vietnamese adopted the French baguette into their culinary repertoire, but made their bread fluffier, with crispier crusts - perfect vessel for their banh mi sandwiches. The version we ordered yesterday had crackling-skinned pork belly, combined with fresh salad leaves and radish/cucumber pickles.

  1. Bún Mắm (Seafood Noodles with Fermented Fish Sauce) - this dish consisted of thick wheat noodles, almost akin to Japanese udon, garnished with shrimps, squid rings, and tubular batons of Vietnamese fried fish cake. The soup broth was salty-savoury, heavily flavoured with nuoc mam (fermented fish sauce).
    A bowl of fresh herbs and beansprouts are provided on the side, to be added to the noodles - it’s all very South Vietnamese-style.

  1. Cơm Sườn Nướng (BBQ Pork Chop with Rice) - Vietnamese BBQ pork is savoury-sweet: juicy slices of pork with a caramelly veneer. The standard Vietnamese pork with rice dish comes with a fried egg, cucumber and tomato. A bowl of nuoc cham dipping sauce is served on the side.

6) Bánh Flan (Crème Caramel - similar to its French cousin, but their Vietnamese served it on a pool of iced coffee. Very refreshing.

  1. Chè Sâm Bổ Lượng (Iced Dessert with Jelly & Beans) - this is a Vietnamese adaptation of a popular Hokkine-Chinese dessert soup, known as “see koh th’ng” in Penang, and “cheng t’ng” in Singapore.

Anna Kitchen
56-W, Jalan Jelutong, 11600 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +6012-460 9896
Opening hours: 10am to 10pm daily


All sounds delish, Peter.

We don’t have many Vietnamese restaurants in my metro area (there’s only a smallish community in the UK - about 40k) and what we do have all seem to offer pretty much the same basic menu. Nice but nothing as interesting as your meal. Although it reminds me we havent been to this nearby place for a goodly while

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40K is quite a substantial number.

Vietnamese cuisine is quite regional, so I usually ask when I’m in one where the owner/chefs are from in Vietnam. In the case of Anna Kitchen here, the owner, Anna Nguyen, is from Dalat, which puts it in Southern Vietnam - they do pork chop rice very well, and their banh mi sandwiches have a good amount of salads. Their bun mam (seafood noodles with fermented fish sauce) and bun moc (pork ball noodles) are good. They also do banh xeo (crispy crepes) very well.

I won’t order pho noodles from them, though - only the Northern Vietnamese do pho well. Somehow, you won’t get the same taste once you get out of Hanoi and the Northern regions.

The best city in Vietnam to go to for a food tour is Hue, the former imperial capital, where 1,300 out of 1,700 listed Vietnamese dishes originate from. Hue is in Central Vietnam, and shares the same culinary culture as Danang and Hoi An.


What is the yellowish filling in the banh mi? Is it an omelette?

Sounds like your friends took you to a winner of a restaurant. I agree with @Harters - Vietnamese restaurants in the UK are lacklustre. The broths lack depth, they don’t serve the correct herbs (or sometimes any herbs at all) alongside, food tends to be too sweet and the bread for banh mi is bog-standard supermarket baguette and not the sublime rice flour enhanced baguette they use in Vietnam.


Those were two fried eggs, not pre-beaten but with the yolks broken during the frying process.


Back to Anna Kitchen for lunch today. Tried two dishes which I didn’t have during the last visit:

  1. 𝘉ú𝘯 𝘳𝘪ê𝘶 𝘤𝘶𝘢 - crab-meat vermicelli soup, with minced pork, pig’s blood pudding, ham and tomatoes.
    This is my absolute favorite Vietnamese noodle dish - first introduced to it back in 2000 in, of all places, Paris’ Chinatown in the 13th arrondissement, and by a couple of American friends (long-time residents there). They had been going to a certain little noodle house for 10 years, and always ordered what they simply called “red pho”.
    I absolutely loved it - then, during a business trip to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 3 years later, I finally found out it was called bú𝘯 𝘳𝘪ê𝘶 𝘤𝘶𝘢. I can never get enough of it. The version at Anna Kitchen here is good.

  1. 𝘛𝘩ị𝘵 𝘬𝘩𝘰 𝘵𝘳ứ𝘯𝘨 𝘷ị𝘵 - soy-caramel braised pork belly with duck’s egg and quail’s eggs. The version here is very good, and not too sweet like those I’d had in Vietnam.

Quail’s egg and duck’s egg garnishes.

  1. Of course, we couldn’t resist ordering the banh 𝘬𝘩ọ𝘵 (Vietnamese shrimp mini-pancakes, with herbs and vegetables) again.

Really loved this place, and already planning a return visit.