So we decided to return to Penang after our extended stay on Koh Lanta. The reason behind this is that Penang is famous for having “the best street food in the World”. I touched on these previously whilst blogging about Penang, but this time the main focus of our trip here was to eat, eat, and eat some more. We decided that we would eat our way around downtown Georgetown and sample some of the dishes that have made this town and island famous.
Here is a list of my Top 5 Penang Dishes (from this visit, anyway):
1) Asam Laksa (Joo Hooi Café, Jalan Penang)
A Penang favourite; with each Laksa stall dishing up its own lovingly crafted chilli spiced broth, with a nice hint of fishiness, over rice, tofu and other delicious treats. There are many famous spots for this cracking dish. However, not wanting to head too far out of town (couldn’t really be assed to venture too far) to some of the best known spots we hit the Joo Hooi Cafe for the most popular downtown Georgetown option! Incredible.
2) Pohpiah (Joo Hooi Café, Jalan Penang)
This was a bit of a random purchase along side our Asam Laksa that turned out to be a winner. It is like a thin pancake wrapped around a succulent mix of fish (anchovies I think) veg and spices, that literally blew us away. I asked for it spicy and it came just right! A real unexpected treat from another of Joo Hooi Cafe’s stalls.
3) Cendol (Too Chew Cendol, Lubah Kung Kwee / Jalan Penang)
Just outside Joo Hooi Cafe (this place is obviously a must go for anyone going to Penang as my first 3 dishes have all been from in or next to here!) is the “world famous” Too Chew Chendul (Cendol) stall, which serves up a strange but ultimately very satisfying dessert consisting of ice in coconut milk, with green noodles and kidney beans – sounds odd, tastes fantastic, and a great way to cool down in the sweltering afternoon heat of Penang.
This was another odd one that we discovered, but definitely made us both think twice about flavour combinations. A mad mix of fruits and vegetables, with the odd bit of squid chucked in, coated in a sweet and sour savoury sauce scattered with nuts and sesame seeds. Yet another Penang flavour sensation!
5) Roti Canai (Transfer Road Street Stall)
This is another of Penang’s (and Malaysia’s) staple meals. It seems to be readily available in many of the Indian places in the little India area of Penang, but we ventured north earl int he morning to Transfer Road which we had heard to be a hub of Roti fun times. After ordering what we thought would just be a roti (actually a south Indian paratha) with a dipping sauce, what we received was a succulent piece of chicken coated in one of the most delicious curried sauces I have tasted in a long time, along side a fresh paratha. The idea was to come for a snack, but we ended up having a very large second breakfast at just 9am. Nice!
And here are a few extras that we found along the way:
Hokkien Hae Mee (No Idea – somewhere in a council estate that we were passing through…)
Wanton Mee (Chulia Street Night Hawkers Stalls, Lubah Chulia)
Curry Mee / Curry Laksa (Tua Pui Curry Mee, Lubah Kimberly) – check out the cubes of pig’s blood… delicious, ha!
Nasi Lemak (Unknown street vendor, Pengkalan Weld – self service) – this was next level, the best Nasi Lemak EVER!
Some extremely interesting food experiences, and quite a few things I had never eaten before! I can understand why Penang has gained a reputation for the diverse array of street food available here, and even though we had to eat about 5 – 6 meals per day to fit in everything that we wanted to eat during this visit, we barely scratched the surface of the other culinary delights that can be found on this tiny Malaysian island!
In other news: For the second time on our travels over this past month my sunglasses have spontaneously imploded whilst adorning my face. Although they seemed fairly content and inanimate (generally a good trait for a pair of sunglasses) just sitting there, shading my eyes from the blistering South East Asian sunshine, something was clearly stressing them out and they could take life no longer!
I therefore had to go through the arduous task of finding another new pair of sunglasses from the market. I made my selection from the vast selection of “Ray Bens” on offer and was initially happy with my purchase, only to discover they were in fact slightly too big, which caused me to have to prod them back onto my face every 10 seconds to stop them sliding down my sweaty schnoz. I decided I would take them back and see if I could make a swift exchange for another pair. This was initially not a problem until I had finally made my decision on yet another pair of sunglasses, where the little lady and grumpy man who owned the stall decided they needed to charge me another 2 ringgit for the privilege of exchanging my glasses (granted this is not even 50p, but it’s the principle). “Change glasses, 2 ringgit” apparently…
After my fairly hearty disputes of this unfair practise, the grumpy man realised that I was not going to cave to pressure and waved his hand at me in a rather irritated and dismissive manner… from this I gathered I was allowed to leave. Safe to say I did not pay them any more money, and nonetheless I got my new pair of sunglasses… the cheeky fuckers.
Anyway, enough sunglasses related waffle. All in all a great second trip to Penang and I can already see a third visit on the horizon! Off to Singapore…