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50 things to do in Penang: Food and drink

You haven't been to Penang if you haven't had these dishes


Savour the island's favourite stir-fry, char koay teow

The flat rice flour noodles stir-fried with dark soya sauce, a dash of chilli paste, garlic, bean sprouts, prawns and kucai leaves is very possibly the most popular hawker food among locals and visitors alike. To sample this, head over to the well-known Sin Hwa coffee shop or Ah Leng Char Koay Teow stall at Kafe Khoon Hiang.

Kafe Khoon Hiang 358 Jalan Dato Keramat, George Town.
Sin Hwa coffee shop 329 Jalan Burma, George Town.

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George Town

Beat the heat with an ice ball

Finely shaved ice packed tight into a ball and dipped half into palm sugar syrup and the other into rose syrup. Suck and drain the sweetness to quench thirst on a scorching afternoon. To experience this brain-freezing ‘odd ball’, look for any ice kacang stall and ask the vendor to make you one or try Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul (next to Joo Hooi cafe).

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George Town

Get up close to the Peranakan culture through delicious Nyonya food

The Peranakan people were probably the first to invent fusion cuisine with their Nyonya food that marries Malay and Chinese flavours. Their curries are a tad creamier and their ingredients create a more delicate base for stir-fried vegetables or seafood. Although, the most popular one is Mama’s Nyonya Cuisine.

Mama's Nyonya Cuisine 31-D Lorong Abu Siti, George Town. (+604 229 1318).
KebayaSeven Terraces Lorong Stewart, George Town (+604 264 2333); 4 Logan Heritage, Lebuh Pantai, George Town (+604 261 2269).

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George Town

Join Penang's longest Nasi Kandar queue

Stand up to the challenge and join in the queue at the Nasi Kandar Beratur that will form just beside the Masjid Kapitan Keling by around 9.40pm. This nasi kandar place only opens at 10pm and the queue for it can go meters long. However, an easier choice is Hameediyah Nasi Restaurant. It’s the third generation running the 100-year old family run restaurant today.

Nasi Kandar Beratur Restoran Liqayat Ali, 98 Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, George Town.
Hameediyah Restaurant 164A Lebuh Campbell, George Town (+604 261 1095).
Nasi Kandar Line Clear 117 Jalan Penang, George Town. (+604 261 4440); Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, Gelugor.
Shariff Nasi Kandar Istimewa Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, Gelugor.

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George Town

Hang with other cyclists over roti jala with curry

Prepared individually when ordered, the runny flour batter is spread thin but wide using a special tool then cooked over a flat pan and served stringy and spider web-like with curry. There’s a large stall under a tree at the roundabout of Jalan Teluk Bahang that offers this and it’s especially popular with Sunday morning cyclists heading up or down Teluk Bahang dam.

Roti Jala stall Jalan Teluk Bahang, Tanjung Bungah.

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Tanjung Tokong

Tap the humid weather with a refreshing Ais Tingkap

Translated it means window sherbet simply because it’s sold and served through an open window of the stall on Lebuh Tamil. The red colour stems from rose syrup that’s mixed with olibanum gum resin (getah anggur), biji selasih, malva nut jelly and fragrant herbs such as pandan leaves. Served in a tall glass along with slices of coconut flesh and shaved ice.

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George Town

Drizzle fried taufu with spicy peanut sauce at Sri Weld food court

Triangular or cubed pieces of soft taufu is deep fried, leaving the inside truly soft as if melting in your mouth but delicately crispy on the outside. The one sold at the front stall at Sri Weld food court on Lebuh Pantai is chopped to bite-sized and drizzled with spicy peanut sauce, while the one from Northam Beach Café is better off without the dipping chilli sauce.

Sri Weld food court Lebuh Pantai, George Town.
Northam Beach Cafe 58 Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, George Town (+604 229 0362).

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George Town

Upgrade our local coffee with stout flavoured marshmallows

The Huey & Wah café at Straits Quay mall make their own marshmallows with 18 gourmet flavours and they dunk it into your order of kopi ‘o’. An especially intriguing combination is the stout flavoured marshmallows in kopi ‘o’. For a non-caffeine alternative, try the rose or passion fruit flavoured marshmallows dunked into warm milk.

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Tanjung Tokong

Grab a cinnamon roll hot from the oven

The Adventist Bakery has become an institution and an open secret within the locals. Their sticky and satisfying cinnamon rolls either sold lose or four in a box are made out of wholegrain bread topped with plenty of walnuts and cashew nuts.

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George Town