Lonely Planet: Penang is world’s No. 1 foodie destination for 2014

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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.

Its food reflects the intermingling of the many cultures that arrived after it was set up as a trading port in 1786, from Malays to Indians, Acehenese to Chinese, Burmese to Thais. State capital Georgetown is its culinary epicentre.

Make sure you try… Char kway teow (flat rice noodles with shrimp, bean sprouts, egg and sweet Chinese sausage), hokkien mee (egg noodles in a pork broth with prawns, egg, bean sprouts and water spinach), and asam laksa (thick noodles in a spicy fish broth with tangy asam, a sour tamarind paste).

But think twice about… Sago grubs – the 4cm-long larvae of a South-east Asian beetle.

The hot restaurant… Explore the sprawling Esplanade Food Centre, where hawker faves combine favourably with a seafront location.

Is there a good market? A pasar malam is an open-air night market – such as Jelutong on a Friday and Macallum Street Market on a Monday. The highlight is always the food: at 2am a different world of stalls serves peppery pork-rib soups, skewered fish balls and sweets such as chendol (cold coconut-milk dessert).

READ MORE:  Five Malaysian entries in the 'Top 50 World Street Food Masters' list

What should I drink? Air bandung – rose syrup and evaporated or condensed milk. It makes a great accompaniment to Malay food.

The flavour of the street… Try Nazlina Spice Station, a cookery school which also offers guided tours of food markets.

Useful words… Sudah makan? Have you eaten yet?

Second place goes to Victoria, Australia while North-west Spain is in third spot.

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111 Comments on "Lonely Planet: Penang is world’s No. 1 foodie destination for 2014"

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David Loman
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David Loman

Taiwan’s iWalker James introducing Penang street food:

David Loman
Guest
David Loman

A good and healthier (also more economical) alternative to Nasi Kandar in Penang:
https://www.facebook.com/DI-WANG-RICE-1412980255675346/

Anthony
Guest
Anthony

Lets’s explore Penang’s famous street food at the Penang Hawker Festival 2016

Date : 19 & 20 Nov 2016
Venue : Gurney Paragon Mall

This festival will surely be a gathering for food enthusiasts with workshops, cooking demonstrations and interesting performances for the festival goers. Don’t miss out, make your way to this gastronomic event, one that promises to reveal the flavours of Penang.

Meet Jason Yeoh (Axian) at 11.00 am on 20 November.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1848913555390265/

Yonny
Guest
Yonny

Do you think they will keep the price affordable at Gurney Paragon?
Many aunties will be there to meet Jason for selfies.

Doris
Guest
Doris

The readers of this blog provide many good tips for a Singaporean visitor like me when in Penang for the hawker food. I hope the hawkers do not employ foreign workers to cook local hawker food.

Shelby
Guest
Shelby

Sarawak created the biggest bowl of laksa for Shiok Sendiri record, then threw away the food, wasting money! Penang please do not follow such stupid act.

David Loman
Guest
David Loman

The Teochew Porridge Tradition Lives On In Penang (Magazine Road)

Kimberly Street Koey Teow Th’ng

Kimberly Street Traditional Home of Dessert

Shirly
Guest
Shirly

As a Penangite working in Singapore, I certainly appreciate your update on the Penang food in this blog. Thanks for all the postings you have made. I suggest you have your own blog on Penang food, instead on posting it on this blog.

David Loman
Guest
David Loman

Shirly should know that Anil Netto is the most prominent blogger in Penang. It is an honor to have our comments on his blog.

Sehati Sejiwa
Guest
Sehati Sejiwa

Shirly
Try this:
http://www.kenhuntfood.com/

Born and bred in Penang, Ken Hunts Food is a Penang food blog written by a true Penangite. The blog records Ken’s gastronomic journey in search of Penang’s greatest street food and finest eats. Join him in his food adventures!

David Loman
Guest
David Loman
GEORGE TOWN: Penang has once again topped the chart as a world food destination over other places including Bangkok and Paris with the endorsement of world-renowned food writer, James Oseland. Oseland, 53, is an American food writer, magazine editor and reality cooking show judge who is currently in Penang until July 20 with the mission to find the best food in Penang to be featured in his upcoming book. Since his first day in Penang on July 15, Oseland said that his favourite food here so far had been Penang-style nasi campur, nasi kandar and hawker food such as chee… Read more »
Andy
Guest
Andy

Here is something Penang can learn from Singapore, in marketing hawker food to the world:

SINGAPORE: From chicken rice and beef noodles to biryani and laksa, some of Singapore’s most famous hawker stalls have been awarded a “Bib Gourmand” by the first edition of the Singapore Michelin Guide.

The French gastronomic guide was started by tyre company Michelin in 1900 and publishes 25 guides covering 28 countries. It awards the Bib Gourmand to food establishments that offer a high-quality menu at a reasonable price – which in Singapore means a maximum of S$45.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/singapore-hawker/2956000.html

Foodie
Guest
Foodie

Now only talk tram for Penang and no more food discussion, why?

Shirly
Guest
Shirly

Now I only rely on readers like David to provide good link on Penang food.
Please encourage him to set up his own food blog.
Anil’s blog is now a platform of Penang Forum.

Ernie
Guest
Ernie

Two SIngapore hawker stalls – Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle at Crawford Lane and Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle in Chinatown were awarded a Michelin star each on Thursday (Jul 21). This is the first time in Michelin history that Asian street stalls have been awarded the coveted star.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/two-singapore-hawker/2975524.html

David Loman
Guest
David Loman

Need to queue 2 hrs for this Michelin award ‘Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice/noodle stall at Singapore Chinatown hawker centre:

The seller is from Ipoh. He is selling 180 chickens a day (previously 100), but still maintain its price of S$2.50 per plate.

More pictures here on today’s Sin Chew:
http://www.sinchew.com.my/node/1557165/星级鸡饭爆红%EF%BC%8E食客媒体挤爆%EF%BC%8E老板请公关应付采访

Joseph
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Joseph
Flood of tourists keeps regulars away from Michelin-starred stalls http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/michelin-month?cx_tag=rec4u&cid=tg:recos:rec4u:standard#cxrecs_s SINGAPORE — After Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodles rocketed to fame as the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred meal, tourists have been making a beeline for the eight-year-old stall. The long queues, however, have displaced some of its regular diners. A month after the award, owner Chan Hon Meng told TODAY that he has noticed a striking change in his customers’ profile. Tourists make up 90 per cent of his customers now — a stark departure from the pre-Michelin days, where the ratio of tourists to local diners was… Read more »
David Loman
Guest
David Loman

In demand: Singapore’s Michelin-starred street food

David Loman
Guest
David Loman
Speaking at a conference on the dangers facing the country’s increasingly overweight population, Mohd Ismail Noor said that the government should ban all-hours dining establishments. “Why do we give Malaysians an option to eat 24 hours? At 3am you should be sleeping, not sitting in mamak restaurants watching Euro Cup,” Prof. Ismail added at the event, which was co-organised by Unicef. “If it’s open, you have an option to go, but if it’s closed, you stay at home.” Malaysia has seen an explosion in recent years in the popularity of mamaks, which are often open-air dining joints that cater mainly… Read more »
Swee Huat
Guest
Swee Huat

Mr Anil,
No new development in the food scene in Penang?
About time for you to kickstart new food topic as we are tired of politics.

Utopia
Guest
Utopia

GEORGE TOWN: Poppy seeds or kas kas, a common ingredient in nasi kandar dishes, are used to give the food, especially curry, a unique taste.
http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/04/14/eateries-add-kas-kas-to-give-curries-unique-taste/

Now we know why people are addicted (got high) to Nasi Kandar.
Any long term health effect?

David Loman
Guest
David Loman

Due to lack of promotion by prominent bloggers like Anil, Penang is not on the list of CNN’s best cities for street food.

http://edition.cnn.com/2016/08/08/foodanddrink/best-cities-street-food/

Darius
Guest
Darius
The Singaporean affinity for Penang food has spawned scores of restaurants in the Red Dot – from stalwarts such as Penang Kitchen and Penang Place Restaurant, to newer additions such as Penang Chiak at Food Republic Wisma Atria — Malaysian food in general is enjoying its moment in the Singapore sun of late. There are outlets all over Singapore serving it up. Take the concept food court Malaysia Boleh at Jurong Point: The Fei Siong Group has brought together 17 stalls and pushcarts serving food from well-known hawkers in Malaysia, such as Petaling Street Famous Claypot Chicken Rice, Klang Bak… Read more »
Pritam
Guest
Pritam

When I was at Sentosa last year, I have tried the food at the Msian Food Street – quite good, and the price reasonable. Tourists need to fly to Penang and can sample the famous Penang food fare there, recommend Lim Brothers Char Kway Teow @S$5 a plate – long queue.

benny
Guest
benny

Penang’s Banana Leaf Nasi Lemak (RM1.80 per pack) as featured (with pictures) on today’s Oriental Daily:

http://www.orientaldaily.com.my/features/zt9283

Sri Weld Food Court,Lebuh Pantai, 10300 Georgetown, Penang
7am – 4pm

Utopia
Guest
Utopia
benny
Guest
benny

Check up this report and pictures on ‘Mun Chien Kueh’ of Anson Road in Penang (18 varieties to choose from):
http://www.orientaldaily.com.my/features/zt9276

Richard Ma
Guest
Richard Ma

I hope the traditional Penang Chinese hawkers would not compromise their heritage by turning halal in a bid to reach out to Muslim customers.

Srini
Guest
Srini

If you do so, you will definitely lose visitors from Singapore, Taiwan and China.
Turning halal would not necessarily mean more Arabs will come here to sample your street food.

Saljeet
Guest
Saljeet

Non halal street food with lard is heritage to Penang chinese. No compromise to turn halal!

Doris
Guest
Doris

Chinese hawker food loses taste when halalised.

Richard Ma
Guest
Richard Ma

The authorities in Penang must step up effort to check on those dirty eateries to ensure cleanliness and food hygiene for customers.

benny
Guest
benny

The decision by the state government to bar foreigners from cooking hawker fare is a right one from health perspective:

Approximately, one in every 30 foreign immigrants who were tested in Malaysia suffers from an infectious disease such as Tuberculosis (TB), Hepatitis B and AIDS, according to data gathered by the Foreign Workers’ Medical Examination Monitoring Agency (Fomema). More importantly, the presence of millions more with undocumented identities have not been accounted for.

https://hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com/2016/01/09/one-in-three-immigrants-suffer-from-infectious-diseases/

Don Anamalai
Guest
Don Anamalai

If the holidays ahead blows you over Penang in Malaysia but you can’t find anything new to be excited about besides the same-ol’-same-ol’, then you consider taking that one hour ride to Sungai Petani in Kedah. This quaint town is relatively small in size and is home to many delicacies and has a lot of old street charms about it.

Read this latest recommendation from food blogger CK Lam:
Forget Penang, head for Sungai Petani
https://sg.news.yahoo.com/forget-penang-head-sungai-petani-083306758.html

Royston
Guest
Royston

Another good reason to support Sungai Petani as a place to retire for Penang folks that complain a lot about the problems on the island.

benny
Guest
benny

Hong Kong’s frills-free street food vendors have made it into this year’s Michelin Guide for the first time, as it released its 2016 recommendations for the southern Chinese territory.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/nov/05/michelin-includes-street-food-category-for-first-time-in-hong-kong-guide

Will Penang street food gets such accolades?
Maybe the local authority and food bloggers need to promote Penang street food at the international level?
But the hygiene factor must be improved first, right?

benny
Guest
benny

Cheap and Good!
RM2.50 Wan Tan Mee in Penang by an elderly ori-maestro!
(71, Jalan Lembah Permai, 11200 Tanjong Bungah, Penang)
9am-11am. Additional piece of Wan Tan only 10 sen.

Details and pictures as provided by food blogger Tristar Toh:
http://tristatoh.blogspot.my/2015/04/10cents-wan-tan-tanjong-bungah.html

benny
Guest
benny

This ori-maestro wan tan Mee seller will be featured on NTV7 Chinese news special Malaysia Day 3-minute segment on this Thursday 17 September 2015 at 5.30pm and 10.30pm.

《三分钟视见》- “两块半 两个伴”

Watch the trailer here:
https://zh-cn.facebook.com/7zoomin/videos/1047053255313991/

benny
Guest
benny
Penang Lor Bak, as featured on last Saturday’s Malay Mail: GEORGE TOWN, Aug 30 — There’s no better way to serve minced meat than to marinate it, roll it up with soybean sheets and deep-fry it to a gorgeous crispiness. This is Penang’s iconic lor bak which in Hokkien literally means “sauce meat.” The “lor” is a term used for the smooth, sticky five-spice flavoured egg and cornstarch sauce that goes with a plate of lor bak. The “bak” refers to the deep fried minced pork meat rolls that are marinated before being rolled with thin soybean sheets and deep… Read more »
Oon Wee Chin
Guest
Oon Wee Chin

Air Itam Asam Laksa, as reported by food blogger Mark Wiens:

Vellam
Guest
Vellam

I hope the quality of Penang street food is not compromised just because Ringgit has lost its value.
I find this blog a good source for info on Penang food. Keep it up!

kuning cilik
Guest
kuning cilik

Nowadays more people flock to Dragon-i restaurants instead of cheap street food. A sign of affluent society in Penang?

benny
Guest
benny

Price hike in Penang street food soon in 2016?
http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/say-goodbye-to-cheap-goreng-pisang-satay-and-tom-yam-in-2016

It will not impact the tourists since Ringgit has devalued but the locals will not be happy.

Royston
Guest
Royston

Important for Penang government to enforce the law that no foreigners should be allowed to cook street food or hawker food.

Oon Wee Chin
Guest
Oon Wee Chin

A guide to the best Char Kuey Teow in Penang, as compiled by Oriental Daily recently:

http://www.orientaldaily.com.my/features/zt3480

In Mandarin, but you can salivate at the pictures!

vina
Guest
vina
Penang should emulate Singapore to organise Street Food Festival: The second World Street Food Congress (WSFC), the brainchild of Singapore’s food ambassador KF Seetoh, will take place from April 8 to 12 at the open field at the intersection of Rochor Road and North Bridge Road. It is organised by Makansutra and supported by Singapore Tourism Board, the event The 5 Singaporean stalls will make up the SG Pavilion. They include Chey Sua Carrot Cake and M.A. Deen Blasa, which will be serving up traditional offerings such as chai tau kueh (carrot cake) and mee kuah (Indian-style noodles in a… Read more »
raja raj
Guest
raja raj

Hawker stalls in Penang now have ‘Tagline Penang Street Food’ stickers on them to indicate that the delicacy served by that particular stall is prepared by a local.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said this was part of the effort to elevate the status of the Penang local fare, which is one of the state government’s initiative to preserve, protect and promote local food as a tourism product in Penang.

http://www.thestar.com.my/Metro/Community/2015/01/20/Sticking-by-food-rule-Penang-hawker-fare-dished-out-by-locals-to-have-indicator-stickers/

Don Anamalai
Guest
Don Anamalai

10 must-eat food in Penang:
http://www.hungrygowhere.my/dining-guide/best-of-malaysia/10-must-eat-foods-in-penang-*aid-175b3101/

But I doubt most of them could make it to FF1M list now that only halal food will be promoted under BN Islamisation program.

Don Anamalai
Guest
Don Anamalai

I must add to the list the RM2.50 wan tan mee as reported in the Star.
The seller is an 80-year old man and he gets thumbs up for good value for money:

http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/02/03/80yearold-seller-My-wantan-the-cheapest-in-Penang/

http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2015/02/05/10sen-wantan-a-hit-following-report/

ps: The Ori wan tan mee is not halal. But yu can get halal version at OldTown White Coffee restaurant (assuming you can ignore the false allegations of Ismail Sabri).