A Penang street food museum


This is a little post to keep alive the idea for a museum to create greater appreciation for the culinary heritage of the streets of Penang.

A Global Street Food exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum in Germany - Photograph: Bustler.net

More photos from the exhibition in Germany at the Bustler.net site.

You might also like to check out the Shinyokohama Ramen noodle museum in Japan, which appears to have innovative interior design and layout plan.

Here’s where you can keep the discussion going for a Penang Street Food heritage museum. Such a museum could pay tribute to the unsung heroes of Penang, the humble street food vendors. It could also remind future generations how it all began apart from providing a unique draw for visitors to the state.

A state government agency or heritage body could oversee this project as a long-term means to promote the domestic economy and treasure what we already have. I think it should not come under a private corporation as it would then end up promoting that particular company instead of Penang street food, which is the public heritage of the people of Penang.

It need not cost millions to set up. All that is needed are unused premises and oodles of creativity. The tools of the trade and exhibits can be fairly easily sourced locally or perhaps donated by retired street food vendors. Photo enthusiasts can create a gallery section and a hall of fame for vendors. Those more technically minded can volunteer their skills to set up the lighting effects. It could be a people’s project that would encourage creativity and pride in our street food heritage, something which most of us are passionate about.

Apart from a museum, policies should be put in place to encourage, nurture and keep alive this vibrant street food living culture, which provides mouth-watering food for locals and visitors alike at affordable prices.

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Finally someone has made tunglang’s idea into a reality by opening the Penang Wonderfood Museum! Perhaps tunglang missed out the consultant fees?

Wonderfood Museum Penang @49 Lebuh Pantai
Introductory price
Adult with MyKad RM 15
Senior/Children (3-12 yrs old) RM 10
Student RM 10
Open 7 days a week from 9am-6pm, last admission 5pm



Penang Wonderfood Museum as reported with pictures on Oriental Daily:


Thanks Benny for highlighting this. My family visited the museum recently. Good place to take pictures with food!

The new museum aims to promote the varied types of multi-cultural food available in Malaysia.
Museum founder Sean Lau believes that Malaysian food is as diverse and varied as its people and culture.

Plenty of pictures of Wonderfood Museum in this Malay Mail article:


tunglang’s vision of Penang Street Museum soon a reality ?

Gelakan Teng Chang Yeow prpposes such museum at Bukit Mertajam last nite : http://www.kwongwah.com.my/news/2012/12/13/7.html

Is this Janji Yang Akan Ditepati or just another election gimmick ?

Only tunglang can enlighten us as he has approached this Teng (not Hock None) before………

Super Senior

A ‘living museum’ of Malaysian Street Food now in Singapore:



Too bad in future Malaysians have to travel to Singapore to see their own heritage….


should have got Genting folks to set up a living street food museum cum food court in heritage ambient setting !

any suitable site in penang ? better not be at straits quay else the food will be too pricey.


Museum restaurant is a relatively new dining concept where ambience is as important as dining itself. Penang is one step ahead with authentic heritage ambience (in innercity George Town), a much envied asset SingLand loves to duplicate artificially.
Enjoy this artificially recreated ambience in thematic Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum:

syiok syiok

maybe the museum u want to create is actually existing lively at every street corners in heriatge penang, with or without aircon with its natural (sometimes sorry – polluted) ambience.

even Spore foodie SeeToh likes it and remind Msians over Astro TLC (channel 707) in his “The Food Surprise” program – the previews as below link :-


‘Reliving’ Street Hawker Food Memory in Cosmopolitan George Town, 2033 As I stagger half awake out of my father’s shop at Macalister Road, I wonder how long I have been in slumberland at my former birth place. It is now 7 pm, a time for hearty dinner and relaxation with Kopi-O kau kau. As I walk down the street, I soon realize a different scenario unfolding right before my still sleepy eyes – a one way street, silent eco-cars, solar-powered bicycles, motorized trishaws and CCTV cameras every 100 metres eyeing from lamp posts just like in Matrix Movie. Am I… Read more »


not food museum…but food recipe(s) musuem…..collect all d major recipe for penang food and how to prepare those food…..

Syiok Syiok

Red alert for traditional TCKs of Penang !!!!!

“Traditional kopitiams are going to have little choice but to move with the times and modernise like their popular rivals now.”
Read more: Slow death of the traditional ‘kopitiam’



Definitely & Surely traditionally kopitiams on the way out of Penang Island – sad but true.
Need to be innovatives abd creative to run kopitiams in penang & KL these days.
Those who still yearn for old time sakes can join me kopi super kau kau at Sungai Petani.

Syiok Syiok

More reason for tunglang to gear up Food Museum to preserve memorabolia of heritage kopi tiams ?
I think tunglang has attempted his best ? and looks like without financial muscles it shall be a in vain.

I think a concept of a living (active) heritage food museum with memorabilia on display while the food are being served is more practical in view of paying customers are from younger generations these days to sustain the biz & operation. However, most traditional Penangites (sadly over thrifty can’t blame them) are worried that such setting would invite higher cost to the menu.


My proposal for Penang Street Food Museum was submitted to Penang Museum curator for the ‘mulling’ after no ‘reply accordingly’ from Ghee Hiang (mystery non-persona using [email protected]). Went to MPPP Komtar to get relevant info, advice and contacts. Spoken to Danny Law and receed Town Hall, Pg Times Square and State Museum @ Macalister Road. And ‘spoken’ a lot here until my saliva is in short supply for my favorite hawker cuisine. And thinking strategically for months which could have been more profitably utilized for my clients’ branding. Someone want a costing projection which is not possible until a venue… Read more »


“I think a concept of a living (active) heritage food museum with memorabilia on display”
I like this alternative approach if street food museum does not materialize.
I have an option to help transform any old world charm kopitiam into a living museum with better interior, artifacts, audio and video plus wifi to match any slippery-cleanliness obsessed kopitiam-wannabe MamaRich cafes. And Tan Tong Tong story telling pre-recorded for daily listening.
That’s much I am willing to share for free of my ‘secrets’ to a successful conservation of Malaya Old World Charm Kopitiam.

Syiok Syiok

keep your perseverance spirits up and running and may you find bright lights ultimately.

I think you are right to approach Danny Law who should be interested in tourism potential cum preservation of Penang heritage.

With Danny in it. likely Ghee Hiang or Him heang alike will take notice. May be they can get tax incentive by sponsoring such win-win venture.

Ho Hia Tee

Vincent Tan of Berjaya is now back in Penang (after shying away from seedless durian) in full force. (Can he) be convinced to donate 0.000000000001% of his riches to finance the museum ? No harm approach him as he is in charity mood these days.

Han Chiang

more likely scenario is the tie-up of Penang Football with Cardiff FC (owned by Vincent Tan) if this tycoon is sincere in his charity work to improve anything being Malaysian.
As for street food museum, guess the first person to approach may be Tan Sri Tan Kok Ping who has many connections.


Nobody will complain if Berjaya can sponsor the museum at Penang Hill.


In a week’s time, the ethereal Tham Chiak Kuis will be going back and the back to business as usual of nightly binge dining in the streets be without superstitious concerns. I am mulling: How about getting 10 cents per bowl or plate from willing hawkers’ business as public donation/support/little sacrifice of profit towards the setting up of Penang’s first STREET Food Museum? It will overcome the lack of funding mentality or fund phobia of those who are in the position to help materialize this museum project. A public awareness campaign of short duration can be done if we have… Read more »


http://m.gotopenang.com/content/penang-food-hunter The food hunting session has began!!! All the Penang famous local foods are on your finger tips. This application provides the users with all the featured local food locations on a map. It even tells the users how to get there. Penang Food Hunter intergrades with Facebook API too. Once you have logged in with your Facebook account, you may share your dining locations with all your friends by publishing it on your Facebook wall. The food locations are based on user recommendations so that you will find some hidden food locations which are not too commercial. The food… Read more »


In June, I took my Aussie friend on a reminiscent night walk in inner city George Town. We went into the Acheen Street Mosque compound amidst cool breeze and the intermittent meow-meow of cats. What struck me was the change of ambience like a back-to-the-past of P. Ramlee’s era. The architecture, smell and sound of 60’s immediately welcomed me and my friend as if in a different time zone. It was kind of replay of my childhood days staying in Macalister Road opposite the Masjid Jamek Simpang Enam. Then the mosque was accessible to outsiders, even at night. Here, the… Read more »


Locked up for security reason?

Anyway one can seek always communion with God anywhere and anytime if your faith is true. Remember a church is a real estate awaiting to be cashed-in in the name of property development.

Syiok Syiok

we can have ‘conversation” with God anywhere n anyplace. Places of worship is just symbolic to enhance the feelings if our faiths seems lacking.
Go to Italian cities and we can see how touristy these “sacred” places have become. Commercialism somehow becomes the savior for the survival of hard to maintain ancient hall of worship ??? Pardon me if i sound pessimistic.


a church is a real estate awaiting to be cashed-in…
But paid by church goers thro’ faithful tithing, which belongs to God, not to men.
It is unbelievable if such deeds (in the name of development) are solely for men’s earthly profit for furthering men’s will and not God’s will.
BTW, being in a church of any denomination is a personal connectedness with Yahweh for acknowledging Him and His Earthly Kingdom/Throne to come besides among His Body of Christ.


CHIJ church in the little red dot has been refurbished into a watering-hole.

That’s a classic example.

Maybe they can seek better communion with God in a different ambience?


Talking about fenced up spaces, this afternoon, I went to the Relau Hills to visit my mother’s ancestral home in the middle of the rainforest cum farm. Today is offering day to the hungry ghosts, so I tag along with my brother-in-law. Hakkas of the early Penang immigrants went straight to the hills to etch a living and this ancestral home (run down) was built in the later 1800’s where the ‘Singkheks’ wearing long pig tails worked hard in the farm from early morning (5am) till dusk. In my reminiscent walk in the dark and uninhabitable heritage home, I could… Read more »

Syiok Syiok

Penang Street Food Museum can gear up in momentum together with positive comments by British Financial Magazine The Economists :- “Penang state – Getting back its mojo” Read the source : http://www.economist.com/node/21525968?fsrc=rss|asi Quote : The combination of low cost and high technology is the main reason why industries across the state of Penang, made up of the original island and a larger bit of the mainland, are prospering again after more than a decade of decline. Their revival is important to Malaysia’s economy—Penang and the surrounding region account for 21% of the country’s GDP. But the renaissance could also have… Read more »


food museum : belum rasa belum tahu, sudah rasa lagi mahu

syabas to anil, tunglang and etc for taking a small but significant step to transform the landscape of Heritage Penang


Food museum : belum rasa belum tahu, sudah rasa lagi mahu

Nasihat untuk street food heritage dan museum :
Jangan tunggu lama, lama. Lama, lama, lama. Nanti di ambil oleh Singapura.


apa nak dikato ? kalau u orang tak jaga heritage mmorabilia, lebih baik biar orang temasek yang prihatin ambil alih asalkan semuanya selamat dalam jagaan.


Your are betul-betul brother.
Little Red Dot sudah kesal tindakan dulu (60’s & 70’s). Sekarang sayang betul-betul barang heritage Asia macam emas walaupun barang warisan dibeli amat mahal dari negara jiran di Utara.

In these days of globalisation, anything of cultural value can easily cross borders to more appreciating nations. Even our Ori-Maestros can do it.


We sanjung the effort of tunglang in heritage preservation. Please add Penang Street Food Paradise in your museum.

Cannot understand why so many flers kibar jalung gemilang and sahut Merdeka when they willingly gadai their heritage? Jalan Sultan in KL in one example – they korek the tanah below and also want to ‘korek’ the heritage above – a case of belum rasa tapi semua mahu?

Asam Garam

One person tunglang can approach : Brand Bon Ton
Contact :

Bon Ton is a passionate person who also makes a living out of his passionate think out of the box ideas


I love what Bon Ton is doing for Penang, reliving the Old World Charm of Pulo Panang. If mixed with eco green rainforest concept, I can see the next level of sustainable living heritage conservation.

Another area of interesting conservation is the Weld Quay Clan Jetties where century-old houses still stand on stilts. Unique, historical and heritage alive, Bon Ton should take the dive there. Anybody’s doing it for Weld Quay Clan Jetties?

Jason Ngui

Perhaps the Sreet Food Museum could be made virtual and incorporated in “Visions of Penang-Archives Online” – http://www.visionsofpenang.com.my ?

Can ask Yen Yen for funding to promote Cuti-cuti 1Malaysia?

Unfortunately you cannot smell the food in the virtual world!


I notice that everytime the heritage building are restored or renovated, they become rather up market eating places. If these places can be converted to be a penang food museum and coffee shop in one. When I mean coffee shop it is coffee shop pricing. Not the Old Town kopi tiam prices.


Actually Old Town gives the tourists a wrong impression with its artificicial settings and high price. The food taste is also not original!


Tunglang Kopitiams will differential from Old Town or Starry-Eyed Bucks. Not the plastic ego-fancied, westernized cultural waterholes but your favorite 60’s papas & mamas kopitiams with truly affordable Chiak-Chiak or Lim-Lim in unpretentious Penang-style leisure. Even with piped-in archived Rediffusion of Tan Tong-Tong’s story-telling or Empat Sekawan’s laugh till your ears drop.
And it will be the real thing, not like The Little Red Dot’s.
Any like-minded investors are welcomed.

Stevie Ng

tunglang can propose his kopitiam concept to the new owner that bought 南华旅社 at Georgetown for RM 7 million.

see details and pictures here:

KT Sam

S Mano wrote to NST today, as he ‘was overjoyed to see the development, cleanliness and orderliness’ of Penang island. http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles/19png/Article/ Among other things he mentioned: – Traffic lights are synchronised; for example, a “green wave” is clearly indicated and people are able to adjust their speed accordingly. – Drivers do not honk in an irritable manner but softly to indicate that one might be slow or in the wrong lane. – People are generous with their smiles. – Cleanliness in restaurants is amazing, with the floors constantly swept It takes an outsider to remind Penangites to ‘smell the flower’… Read more »


Penang is always a welcome change for those whose life have been trapped in an expensive city called KL.


Besides the Penang street food museum, Penang folklore arts and cultural museum should be set up by state government or private companies.

Melaka has over 20 museums, mostly are poorly maintained, I do hope Penang state government can build more interesting museums.

LGE, don’t talk talk everyday, please do something for Penangites and tourists.

Jamil Daud

You forgot to add that the Federal government is not disbursing as much heritage fund to Penang compared to the large amount given to Melaka.


There are Penangites with ideas for the improvement and advancement of Penang in many endeavors one of which is the Penang Street Food Museum. The question: Is Penang Gomen cash-strapped to the level of talking beggars on administrative chairs when presented a golden idea for creating ‘rice bowls’? When great ideas are not supported by real money, it is just an idea built in rainbow clouds. What the State Gomen should do is set up an Ideas Depository with standard application guide lines and a committee to sieve the feasibility of ideas. With many ready contacts and references in the… Read more »

Desmond Koh

Maybe the priority of the state government is to give the surplus to old folks and pregnant mothers?


Good job Anil. You should get recognition from the heritage board. With hard-core supporters like tunglang, it cold be a reality soon. In the menatime, as the ori-maestros ‘upgrade’ to air-cond environment, someone should collect the hawkers’ relics e.g. old cooking utensils, signage etc for the yet-to-be established museum, before they end up in Germany.


Anil, can I use your idyllic home as temporary store house for the artifacts of hawker utensils, signages, carts and stools? Of yes, including some chicken bones and fish bones?
More like Anil’s Ark for the ‘near extinction’ specimens of Penang street hawkers of the 50’s, 06’s and 70’s from the hands of the Germans and the Little Red Dot!


Anil, I know you will do it. (Tak Tahan Lagi Lah! After all the lackadaisical, hope-hope and talk-talk). This is one Public Relation way to initiate a Penangites’ public interest project for the strategic good of Penang Street Food Heritage and Penang Tourism. I am not sure whether this being a totally public initiative without corporate involvement can be a sure-success. The key factor here is still money as museum set up, management and maintenance require professional expertise and technical display knowhow. How do I email you my Penang Street Food Museum proposal to Ghee Hiang (about 2 months ago)… Read more »


Museum is for things of the past i.e. history.

Why need a food museum when you should keep the street food trade thriving in Penang?

On that note a Gerakan Museum is timely to mark its demise in Penang so that the young generation would not repeat the same mistake by viewing the exhibits (including the seedless durian).

Roger Beng

Food is for consumption, not for viewing.

So a museum is not a good idea.

Should set up 1Penang open air medan selera.


And after 2 hours of makan-makan shiok-shiok, 1Penang food to be passed into medan selera open air toilet bowls into oblivion?
Imagine one generation from now, no TCK Penangites will ever remember how Penang Laksa came about (without a proper food museum)!!!

Larry Heng


Your friend in his open letter to CM LGE has claimed that there is RM25million heritage fund sitting at Think City. You may try your luck with Think City to propose your museum plan. Anil please assist.


Your contribution will ensure that the fund at Think City is well utilized.


Have sent my Street Food Museum Proposal to Pg State Museum Curator to secure a site, hopefully @ Macalister Road State Museum (opposite my childhood territory Lorong Madras).
I need to secure a suitable site in order to come up with a realistic costing projection.
I still hope for private sponsorship with ready cash to contribute meaningfully, purposefully and for them to truly “respond accordingly” to my proposal (not just for the asking). This is where the State’s role comes in helpfully to publicise this Gomen/Private joint initiative. I hope Danny Law is listening.

Asam Garam

Anil, tunglang, CapturePenang, Syiok Syiok,
what u waiting for ?
get the project going lah !


Don’t be Geram! You are not the only one. Now is Hungry Ghost Month, good for the Tham Chiak Kui spirits to get things bumped (and not in the state of inertia) whether in good spirit daytime or in the still of night. Anil has fired a ‘loud’ shot. Unless one is ‘deaf’ or indifferent to the future of Penang Street Food Heritage, those sitting on the kopitiam chairs or Komtar Tower office chairs should sit up and take notice and proactively, saliva-tingly act. The earlier discourse here was to share great ideas which led to a challenge to tunglang… Read more »


Go approach Vincent Tan with your ideas so that it could be incorporated in his Turf Club redevelopment plan.