penang street food.

Masterpiece tagged along my aunt’s family during the new year’s weekend to penang. with penang’s reputation as a paradise for food lovers, it was not surprising that we went in search for food whenever we could. we arrived late on saturday evening, and feasted our eyes on intricate and gorgeous malaysian life paintings at Conservatory of Fine Arts at Sunny Point Complex before heading off for dinner at Hai Nan Town in Tanjung City Marina at Weld Quay with the artists.

Hai Nan Town looks relatively spanking new, and seems quite popular with the locals which is mostly attributed to the fact that it is on the Tanjung City Marina which has an almost overseas feel to it. imagine sitting by the quay, docked yachts swaying gently in sight, twinkling blue lights criss-crossing overhead, a comfortable, cooling breeze… and you get the drift. the ambience itself is worth visiting the restaurant for. the lighting was no where conducive for photos without flash so i have to try to remember what we had. as depicted by its name, this place served hainanese food, with quite a lot of nyonya fare. we had ikan assam pedas which came beautifully arranged, lor bak, tau yew keh (soy sauce chicken), yam duck, inchi kabin (nyonya style fried chicken with worcestor sauce), deep fried assam prawns, with mixed greens. Also had their dessert, bee koh mui, which is basically black glutinous rice dessert, served with coconut milk. the portions were decent for the slightly upmarket price, and the food was robust with my favourites being the yam duck & soy sauce chicken as the meat was tender & juicy, yet remained flavourful.

skipping the hotel’s buffet breakfast the next day, we went in search of hawker food, with the famous penang char kway teow (stir-fried rice noodles with succulent bean sprouts, chives, morsels of cockles, slices of chinese wax sausage and egg) in mind. armed with a book showcasing famous hawker stalls in penang, we set off for the Sister’s Char Kway Teow in Lam Heng Cafe, McAlister Road. at first glance, the packed coffeeshop looked promising and we had some difficulty finding a table. despite that, our enthusiasm was not doused. not even when we have finally located seats and were told that a half an hour wait was in line for the stir-fried goodness. we just decided we’ll have bak chang (meat dumplings) and or kueh (yam/taro cake) to start off. despite praises being sung about the yam/taro cakes, i felt that the huge chunks of yam/taro in it were too powdery even if some would argue that fluffy yam/taro is the best. in short, i felt that our two choices were nondescript. long after we’ve polished off the plates, we have yet been served our char kway teow. 45 minutes and counting, everyone seemed fidgety and eager to go. when it was finally served, we tucked in eagerly only to find it a major disappointment. it was also a tad too oily for my liking. it was only after we left that one of our travel companions piped up that she saw the elder sister of the sister duo using at least 3 ladlefuls of oil (which is mixed with lard, mind you!). talk about a plate ladened with cholesterol! anyhow, don’t think we’ll be back for more.

then, for dessert we popped by penang road for the famous teochew chendul. i was a little taken aback by the long queue in front of the small stall. green pandan jelly served with red beans, coconut milk, shaved ice and served with gula melaka (brown sugar syrup). perfect for a hot day! however, i thought that the branch in Giant USJ 1 serves a tastier version. once again, quality sacrificed for speed considering the long queue? the cafes (Joo Hooi Cafe for one) adjacent to this stall are packed with food lovers, and the asam laksa and penang hokkien noodles around here are also reputed to be one of the best in the island. we were stuffed by then, and could only managed some chendul.

penang 3
that night we had dinner at InsaDunia Foodcourt in Bukit Mertajam. despite it being rather quiet, we had excellent roast pork and hokkien noodles (prawn noodles). the roast pork had a layer of crispy skin that crunches when you bite into it, yet the meat remains tender & juicy. i also had some teochew porridge with frog where the consistency of the watery rice was just right. our hosts, the artists brought us house visiting to another artist’s place where we were served authentic malay fare such as soto ayam, ketupat (compressed rice) with ayam rendang (chicken rendang) and kuah satay (peanut sauce). the artist’s and wife hails from negeri sembilan and has quite a collection of pets in their backyard garden consisting of geese (!), ducks, cats (with one white persian beauty that had one brown eye and another blue eye.) etc.

if you thought we had a little too much to eat on our first two days, wait till you read about all the hawker food we had on our last day. it was a pure gastronomic heaven.

click here for more insider tips on where to go and makan!



  1. Joy said


    Good to see you blogging again!

  2. marvin said

    Hi Jasmine! Nice pictures. Your blog is making me hungry! 🙂
    BTW, you’ll no longer be updating, right?
    I wish you all the best in 2007!

    jasmine says: thanks marvin. yeah, has expired. will be here now. all the best to you too!

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