Penang street food

Penang char koay teow, along with other local culinary delights, has hit the top of the foodie charts! Don’t you think it is about time we set up a street food museum to showcase how George Town’s street food landscape evolved over time and to honour the pioneers (or the ‘ori-maestros’, as Tunglang refers to them)?

Penang char koay teow: On top of the world – Photograph: jasonlcs_87/Flickr

The citation for Penang, written by Lonely Planet’s Robin Barton and published in the Independent, reads:

#1 destination: Penang, Malaysia

Everyone’s talking about it right now because… Malaysian hawker food has spread worldwide via food trucks and pop-ups but nothing compares to hitting Penang.

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Will the Barang Naik phenomenon result in fewer people patronising street food – and turning to healthier home-cooked food at home instead (but even home-cooked food is getting expensive as a cursory glance at prices at the wet market will confirm)?

Or will the higher-end restaurants be the ones that suffer if their customers desert them and turn to cheaper street food options?

One reason for the hike in food prices is that Malaysia does not have self-sufficiency in our basic food supply. We are too busy building expensive condos and houses instead of providing our people with affordable food.

A Guardian correspondent thinks George Town has “the best street food in Asia”, while Granta, a magazine founded in 1889 by students at Cambridge University, regards Penang as “The Island of Hawkers”.

char koay teow vendor in Bworth
A char koay teow cook busy in action at a hawker centre along Jalan Raja Uda in Butterworth