Many consider char koay teow to be Penang’s most famous street cuisine. It is regarded as must-eat cuisine in Penang and is one of just a few meals on this list that you should not miss.
Char koay teow literally translates to “stir-fried rice cake strips,” and it consists of flat rice noodles stir-fried in pig fat with light and dark soy sauce, chili, belachan (fermented shrimp paste), prawns, blood cockles, bean sprouts, chopped Chinese chives, and an egg. It’s usually served on a plated piece of banana leaf in Penang.
Char koay teow, like laksa in Singapore or nasi lemak in Kuala Lumpur, is a divisive dish.
Everyone appears to have an opinion on who offers the most incredible food, and Kafe Ping Hooi is almost always mentioned. We tasted the famed Penang char koay teow prepared with duck eggs. It was out of this world, thick and creamy, with an unrivalled wok hei taste.
The springiness of the noodles. Along with the crispness of the bean sprouts and the fluffiness of the egg just out of this world. But, as delicious as the noodles were, it was the prawn that stole the show for me.
As previously said, Penang cuisine lovers are incredibly protective of this iconic Malaysian meal; therefore, everyone has an opinion on which restaurant provides the finest.
Many Singapore and Penang food bloggers consider Kafe Ping Hooi on Carnarvon Street one of the finest in Penang.
The Yeow family has been running this store and serving this renowned Penang meal for three generations, calling their version “tiger char koay teow.”
Address: 179, Lebuh Carnarvon, George Town, 10100 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Operating Hours: 6:30AM–2PM, daily
Expect to Pay: Around RM 12
How to Get There: From the corner of Penang Road and Chulia Street, start walking southeast on Chulia Street. Make a right on Carnarvon Street. Walk straight and you’ll see Kafe Ping Hooi on the corner of Carnarvon Lane on the left side of Carnarvon street.
In other countries, such as Singapore, curry laksa is known as curry laksa. Curry mee is a meal that consists of egg noodles in a coconut curry broth. Bean curd puffs, bean sprouts, pig’s blood curd, cuttlefish, shrimp, and cockles are common fillings. Sister Curry Mee, one of the most iconic Penang street food booths on this list, served us these magnificent overflowing bowls.
This was one of my two favourite dishes in Penang, along with the fish ball soup at Pitt Street Koay Teow Th’ng. The taste of this curry mee was intense. It was thick, creamy, flavourful, somewhat sweet, and devilishly hot.
If a Penang street food stall’s legendary status is purely determined by its longevity, then Sister Curry Mee stand located in the foothills of Kek Lok Si Temple deserves to be in the hall of fame, as mentioned at the beginning of this article.
The two sisters selling these delectable bowls of curry mee have been doing it since 1946. It’s been almost seventy years, and it’s still going strong. Everyone who dined here took a photo of these famed sisters. The sisters were adorable, definitely enjoying the attention, and were smiling and giggling the entire time. They’ve worked hard for it.
Address: 612 T, Jalan Air Itam, Pekan Ayer Itam, 11500 Ayer Itam, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Operating Hours: 7:30AM-1PM, Wed-Mon (closed Tue)
Expect to Pay: Around RM 7 per person
How to Get There: From Komtar Bus Terminal, take bus 203 or 204 to Air Itam (RM 2 each way). It’s the last stop so you can’t miss it. Sister Curry Mee is located on a side street just off the main road of Jalan Paya Terubong. If you can’t find it, then just ask anyone and they’ll point you to it.
“Will you take the blue or the orange bowl?”
These stalls, located exactly opposite each other on small Keng Kwee Street, are run by two families who have been competing in the chendol industry for decades. Chendol is a traditional Malaysian dessert comprised of shaved ice, coconut milk, jelly noodles, and palm sugar. Other components such as red beans, glutinous rice, grass jelly, and creamed corn can be included.
This blue dish came from Penang Road’s well-known Teochew Chendul. We tried it first since it had a longer line between the two, and we thought it would be better. It was fantastic. It was cold and creamy, with a delicious caramel taste explosion. For some reason, it reminded me of eating Frosted Flakes with cold milk when I was a kid. I had so much fun with this that I slurped down the entire bowl.
It was both tasty and refreshing, and it was ideal on a blistering hot Penang day. The texture of the red beans was really excellent. This is the Penang Road Famous Chendol stall, right across the street from the previous one. I don’t consume enough chendol to determine which is superior, but it doesn’t really matter. Although the line for the blue bowl was longer, my father liked the orange bowl, as did the Grab driver who brought us to the airport the next day. Both booths are included in almost every article about must-try Penang delicacies, so it all comes down to personal choice.
Address: Jalan Penang, 27 & 29, Lebuh Keng Kwee, George Town, 10450 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Operating Hours: 10:30AM–7PM, Mon-Fri / 10AM–7:30PM, Sat-Sun
Expect to Pay: Around RM 3 per bowl
How to Get There: From the corner of Penang Road and Chulia Street, walk southwest on Penang Road. Walk straight and you’ll see Keng Kwee Street on your left. Both stalls are located near the corner.
Z: I tasted chendol at this stall several times. The taste was so good. Especially during the hot and dry seasons. Most of the time, there will be no place to seat for dine-in. People usually eat it while standing. You need to be there early, otherwise, you will be in a super long queue.
We had no intention of trying durian until a friend of ours (who loves food) told us that his Singaporean clients frequently rave about the durian in Penang.
They say it’s the greatest, so I looked it up on the internet and discovered that many Penang food bloggers suggest the Ah Teik durian shop on Macalister Road. Fortunately for us, it was on the same street as the Famous First Federal Restaurant.
Most durians cost between RM 30 and RM 40. We thought it was overpriced, mainly because we were already full from lunch, and Ren wasn’t planning on eating much. We only wanted a taste, so we purchased the tiniest durian available for RM 10. I’ve only tried fresh durian once before in Davao, so I’m not an expert, but this one was delicious. It was creamy and nutty, with a spicy yet pleasant durian scent.
If you’ve never tried durian, this is a fantastic place to start. There are a few covered tables here where you may comfortably enjoy your durian. We had the Musan King, which is claimed to be one of the most sought-after types. It costs more than twice as much as the ordinary durian and is sweeter and fleshier than others. Ah Teik also provides additional premium types, such as Milk and Red Prawn durians, depending on the season.
Address: Lorong Susu, 10450 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Operating Hours: 10AM-10:30PM, daily
Expect to Pay: Depends on the brand and weight
How to Get There: From the corner of Penang Road and Chulia Street, walk southwest on Penang Road. Make a right on Burmah Road then make a left on Kinta Lane. Walk all the way down then make a right on Macalister Road. The Ah Teik durian stall will be on your left on the corner of Macalister Road and Lorong Susu. It’s right next to the Sun Yat Sen building.
Z: ah! I’m a durian lover. Information I got from locals said, Penang durians are among the best in Malaysia. I did try at this shop. Reasonable price and so many types of durian, especially during its season.
F: Not a fan, but I think that people need to try it before deciding on its taste.
10. Lebuh Chulia Apom
Apom Manis is an Indian crepe prepared with sugar, eggs, coconut milk, and flour. The batter is poured into little clay pots or mini-woks to create thin crisp borders surrounding a fluffy, eggy center.
It’s a light, affordable snack that’s not very sweet, so you can have a couple in one sitting. We couldn’t go to the famous Penang street food shop I’d read about on Kuching Road, so we tried it at this night hawker market on Chulia Street instead.
It was decent, though I’m sure the more well-known booths are better. You can find a list of the top apom manis stalls in Penang in this post by Malaysian blogger rebeccasaw.com.
Address: 294 A, Chulia St, Georgetown, 10200 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Operating Hours: 6PM-12MN daily
Expect to Pay: Around RM 1 per piece
How to Get There: The Chulia night hawker market is near the corner of Chulia Street and Love Lane. From the corner of Penang Road and Chulia Street, walk southwest and you’ll see this apom manis stall on your left shortly after passing Love Lane.