Penang was chosen for its sumptuous street food and nostalgic heritage setting and easy walkability in the city.

Not for its skywalk or theme parks or 40-storey (and 60-storey) towers or Botak Hill or planned artificial islands or six-lane highways or golf courses or polluted sea water. You get the drift.

Unfortunately, if we don’t protect our prized assets, the way we are going, we are rapidly losing whatever charm we have left. We are even allowing rows of pre-war buildings in the broader heritage setting to be sold to developers who want to build more towers. That’s so short-sighted.

See the CNN citation below:

Penang, Malaysia

Another country celebrating a big milestone is Malaysia, which turns 60 in 2017.

The best way to celebrate a birthday? Food, of course.

The Malaysia island of Penang is arguably one of Asia’s best street food destinations. It offers a mix of traditional Malay, Chinese and Indian dishes, as well as fusion cuisines such as Baba Nyonya, or Peranakan, which incorporates regional ingredients and Chinese and Malay cooking methods.

All of it can be found in hawker centers and shop houses throughout George Town. Combine this with the city’s collection of historic buildings in various styles, from old English colonial mansions to classical Chinese shophouses and Islamic mosques, and you have a city made for walking and eating.

But there is a downside: the makeover of George Town to cater to the influx of visitors has resulted in the gentrification in George Town and in the process, low-income communities have been forced to move out, budget hotels for back-packers have given way to boutique hotels, and old-style coffee shops have been replaced by more expensive cafes. So there has been a loss as well.

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

  1. Evolving food courts in Singapore:
    Blending hawker fare and hipster cafe

    While food courts were once generally positioned as a simple dining option offering basic dishes, they are increasingly taking on a more sophisticated identity. They were a step up from hawker centres and coffee shops, but in recent years, the gap has widened as many food courts have raised their technology, decor and offerings by several notches.

    Read more at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/evolving-food-courts-blending-hawker-fare-and-hipster-cafe-8903512

    • Waves of new gourmands are descending on two food hawker stalls in Singapore after they were each awarded a star by the culinary bible Michelin.
      https://youtube.com/watch?v=yZW3Yk8Gmlg

      Penang hawkers must strive for such excellence, and not just focusing on charging high with small portion for quick profits.

  2. Avoid Penang Nasi Kandar!

    GEORGE TOWN: Line Clear, Penang’s famous nasi kandar outlet, was ordered to close for two weeks after rat droppings were found in the kitchen following an inspection.

    The Penang Health Department issued the order after its officers carried out the inspection with Penang City Council at three eateries in Penang Road on Monday.

    Apart from Line Clear, Yasmeen restaurant which is beside Line Clear, was also ordered to temporarily shut down. No action was taken on the third eatery.

    http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/03/13/line-clear-ordered-close-two-weeks-after-hygiene-inspection/

    • I am 100% supportive of the MPPP/ health department action. All eateries must be clean and safe for the consumers. There should be no let up in this clean-up mission. The goal here is to make Georgetown and Penang the most liveable city/place. Food vendors have to be taught cleaniness and good food can go hand- in- hand. Dirty habits and unclean habits have no place in the food business.

  3. The attractions are not just food and heritage buildings but also heritage sites, heritage crafts, beaches, ferries, hills, home-stays, our natural plants and animals, low traffic, low pollution, low costs (esp. for food and room), relative cleanliness. The faithful servants of capitalism are actively undermining all these advantages. With friends like these, you don’t need enemies.

  4. How food trucks took over city streets
    http://www.bbc.com/autos/story/20170104-building-a-better-food-truck

    These food trucks look trendy + yuppie. Clean & mobile. And with music loaded!
    In no time, slippery Cosmopolitan Penang will see more of these trucks at most street corners.
    Street cleanliness may be an issue with these truck operators if some of them put up tables + chairs on pedestrian pavements.
    Still, it could be a new career trend for sons & daughters of Penang Ori-maestros. Got class mah!

  5. The more accolades Penang receive, the more expensive the islanders become!
    So when you sing praises, reach down your pocket to see if tonight you can afford RM10 char kuay teow !

    • Rm10.00 Char Koay Teow – Do you mean the Red Beret Madame Ori-meastro @ Lorong Selamat?
      I would realistically only pay Rm3.05 for her C.K.T. Basic (no frills, no ke-liao).
      And maybe minus 50 cents for her poor customer service – when you order in front of her, you get no response as if you are talking to a tombstone!

      • Lorong Selamat got one auntie who can rap in hokkien while selling bak hoo. I rather be her customer rather that red beret one.

        Do take note Penang ori or not hawkers now may keep price status quo until CNY. Thereafter, thamchiak folks should boycott those who raise prices unreasonably.

  6. Could have been better had the best chefs not migrated elsewhere especially to Singapore for obvious reasons.

    • ‘No pork’ signage on this Penang ‘s Left-handed Char Kway Teow betrayed the tradition seeking Jakim approval?

      • Lard is the key ingredient, else no different from the halal Kway Teow Kerang by the Malay vendors.

        Eeyaw is right. You can now get good authentic Penang hawker fare in Singapore – try Jurong Point at Jurong West and JEM at Jurong East, stalls operated by migrates Penangites proclaiming Majulah Singapore!

      • Need lard to bring out the taste.
        Add more crunch by sprinkling bits of fried fat ‘keropok’!

      • Fried fat keropok is actually 100% white pig fat (lard) cut up into small squares & fried in hot pig oil in frying pan until they become brownish gold & crispy to bite. (I am now salivating).
        In Hokkien, it is called Bak Pok.
        This is a ‘heavenly ordained must’ to top up on the Lor of Hokkien Mee with the soup + chilli oil merely submerging the mee that is well cook to perfect timing. And add soya sauce to Bak Pok if you don’t want to regret later. If a Hokkien Mee seller doesn’t have Bak Pok sitting in his stall, he is an absolute failure for not cooking a perfect Hokkien Mee dish.
        My mom was one of the best Bak Pok cook (for my brother-in-law who was the best Hokkien Mee Ori-maestro @ Madras Lane in the 60s – 70s.
        Bak Pok is also a must for Char Koay Teow – just bite it crispy together with slippery rare-fried prawns. (I am now salivating).
        Bak Pok, one of many Chinese heavenly ingredients that make dining senses (nose, tongue, mouth & taste buds) in inexplicable makansutra delirium! Don’t miss it while you are still alive!

      • Halal CKT at Dickens Road off Penang Road appeal to Muslims, so Jakim should direct Muslims to eat there and over concerned with those with Bak Pok.

      • If they enforce that, all Ori-maestros of Penang heavenly street hawker cuisine will emigrate to Singapore!
        Wanna bet?

  7. Penang is no. 2 in CNN’s best places to visit in 2017.
    So what?
    To many Penangites, esp those affected by intentional social engineering & unchecked property buyout in inner city George Town leading to super-high rentals, a plate of famous Char Koay Teow won’t taste as good as before (mind, spirit & taste of feel good factor). The soul of previous Penang is already dead, replaced by a doppelgänger as plastic as Ronald McDonald clown & laughing like a cash register.
    The ambience of authenticity is now clouded by sleek commercialism & cat-iconised here & there which is not even a salient part of the old world charm that real travellers marvelled at Pulo Pinang as far back as 19th century. The place to visit, to live & retire is now reserved for those rich & famous, those who can afford to enjoy ‘manicured’ cultural tourism, make-believe ambience from recreation or gentrification, & oh yes, the signature make-over of heritage houses Ala Lion Style by Singlanders.
    Char Koay Teow was once a street hawker food, one or several rungs below home cooked food like Nyonya cuisine.
    Now, it is as famous as Bird’s Nest. An almost aphrodisiac of food binge. Written about like poetries by makansutra gurus as far away as New York. BUT, here in the land of the original oily street hawker food, nothing accolade is euphoric anymore as pride might have taken over the brains. The soul is not there anymore as it once breathed in the locals, giving cultured life to architectural delights of East + West.
    Now, it is more of survival ‘for how long’ in an island of once upon a time liveable charm & affordability.
    To enjoy Char Koay Teow, one (typically Penangite) has to pretend to be middle-class & a tourist.
    The curse of Sleek Cosmopolitan Penang, perhaps.

    • Did you watch last Saturday’s ‘Are You Hokkien?’ 6pm on NTV7 featuring the Penang Hokkien Mee, and the Hokkien dishes at Ang Hoay Lor? These are true Penang Hokkien food that the local government must promote, no need any interference from Jakim.

      • Ang Hoay Lor now become popular to Singaporeans after this serenading shown there. There is usually no menu for the locals, and now the boss should create one especially for more affluent Singaporeans quoting in S$ while locals continue to pay 3 times cheaper?

      • Nowadays, I seldom watch local TV channels.
        I rather surf the internet for instant news & what Malaysian mass media dare not publish.
        Use VPN if one cannot access Sarawak Report.

      • Use VPN too often you become a Virtual Person not believing in the 1twisted “realities”

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