Penang 24-hour food tour

Indulge in all kinds of flavourful food, rich in spices and herbs from the many restaurants and hawker stalls in Penang. Here’s a 24-hour guide to eating on the island non-stop. By CK Lam


6am-7am: Special Famous Roti Canai

Soak in the slow pace of life in Penang with breakfast at this road side stall, which is famous for its crispy roti canai. There are several varieties of curries to complement the roti canai – mutton, beef, chicken, fish and dhall. The place is usually packed with customers waiting for a table.

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George Town

7am-8am: Toh Soon Cafe

This side street cafe has been operating for almost 50 years, offering a light breakfast of half boiled eggs, steamed bread, nasi lemak and charcoal toast bread. The owner has kept the tradition of toasting the bread on a specially-made clay stove embedded in a tin drum. The homemade bread is spread with choices of kaya (coconut jam with pandan leaves), butter and peanut butter.

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8am-9am: Aik Hoe Restaurant

Expect to find waiters at this eatery walking around carrying bamboo baskets filled with dim sum and specialties of steamed gai chat (chicken and Chinese cabbage) and yoke aun kuen (pork roll). The pork roll is a piece of lean meat wrapped in a piece of fat, liver and Chinese water chestnut.

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9am-10am: Ferringhi Coffee Garden

The menu at this garden restaurant showcases a good selection for breakfast, using free range eggs, home-baked bread and Italian-style espresso coffee. A good option is the club sandwich with two thick slices of housebaked focaccia bread with turkey ham, mozzarella cheese, omelette, grilled beef, smoked salmon and plenty of greens.

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Batu Ferringhi

10am-11am: Ais tingkap

The classic ais tingkap (or windows sherbet) is so named because it used to be sold through an open window. The sweet red rose syrup drink is a mixture of getah anggur (olibanum gum resin), biji selasih (basil seeds), kembang semangkuk (jelly) and fragrant herbs, served in a glass with fine shaved ice and pieces of coconut flesh.

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George Town

11am-12noon: Tho Yuen Chicken Rice Restaurant

This bustling Cantonese restaurant serves a variety of noodles, porridge and chicken rice during lunch hour. Noodle dishes include fish head steamed with noodles, a stir-fried mix of hor fun and vermicelli and braised duck noodle with ginger. Sui kow (dumpling) soup comes with a generous amount of water chestnuts and minced pork meat. Don’t forget their signature oval-shaped egg tarts which are usually sold out by early morning.

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George Town

12noon-1pm: Miraku Japanese Restaurant

If you are looking for something beyond the usual Japanese cuisine, then head over to this Japanese restaurant. You’ll find expertly prepared set meals and course menus made with premium ingredients air-flown from Japan.

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1pm-2pm: Ong Cheng Huat Seafood

Take a drive over to this seafood restaurant located on the mainland. Signature dishes include deepfried baby chicks, deep fried prawn fritters, stir fried mussels and steamed fish. The crunchy deep fried heh piah (prawn fritters) made of popiah skin and prawns make a good starter. The fermented coconut water, known as tuak or toddy, is good enough to drink but a word of advice – you can get drunk drinking this sour and sweet fizzy drink.

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2pm-3pm: Kuih Nyonya Moh Teng Pheow

Enjoy sweet and savoury nyonya cakes and snacks here – the steamed and deep-fried cakes come in different textures, shapes and colours. Sample the fragrant green and white kuih, serimuka, as well as the crispy kuih talam. Another favourite is the pulut tekan (glutinous blue rice) served with homemade kaya (coconut jam with pandan leaves).

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3pm-4pm: Hock Seng Rojak

This refreshing fruit salad has a combination of sliced mango, pineapple, guava and cucumber. The fruits have a buzz of heat from the chilli paste, roasted peanuts, pungent dried shrimps, dried squid powder and har koe (shrimp paste).

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4pm-5pm: Assam Laksa Air Itam Market

Assam laksa, a noodle fish-based soup, is one of Penang’s signature dishes. The blanched thick white rice noodles in the spicy and sour soup go well with the raw vegetables of cucumber, chillies, onions, spoonful of har koe (shrimp paste), fragrant mint leaves and a touch of ginger flower.

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Air Itam

5pm-6pm: Coffee Lane

Watch while owner Terry demonstrates his brewing skills at Coffee Lane, a brew-to-order cafe which offers a variety of coffee and chocolate drinks with a few brewing methods including the syphon brewers. Many different types of quality coffee beans from over the world are available for sale including the famous kopi luwak.

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George Town

6pm-7pm: Shing Kheang Aun

This non air-conditioned restaurant is popular for its Hainanese food. A unique lift (operated manually) is used to deliver food from the kitchen on the ground floor to the first floor dining area. Specialties of this restaurant include curry gulai tumis, kerabu prawns, assam prawns, Hainanese pork and chicken chop.

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7pm-8pm: New Lane

New Lane is a good place for mouth watering street food including grilled fish, roti canai, satay, Hokkien mee, char kuey teow, assam laksa and ais kacang. We love the charcoal-grilled Batu Maung satay. The owner still uses the traditional method of fanning the charcoal fire with a hand-held fan. The marinated skewered meat is served with raw onions, cucumber and spicy peanut sauce. Other tasty dishes include the barbecue chicken wings and drumsticks.

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8pm-9pm: Chin’s Stylish Chinese Cuisine

Chin’s Stylish Chinese Cuisine is one of the best fine-dining restaurants on the island. The Heavenly Blessed Joystick is a favourite with skewers of seashell meat, baby abalone and sea fungus, soaked in spicy and pungent chilli oil. Chin’s Aromatic Crispy Duck is another one of their signature dishes. Shredded at the table, the meat is assembled on homemade pancakes with hoisin sauce served with scallions and cucumber.

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9pm-10pm: Adnan Bin Hassan: Ikan Bakar & Nasi Lemak Kampung

Have a fun getaway to this stall which serves ikan bakar (charcoal grilled fish) with assam sambal mixed with onion and chilli. Grilled crabs and prawns are also available and both are served with soy sauce, cili padi and lime. The seafood is best paired with aromatic nasi lemak, prepared with coconut milk and a variety of herbs. Go around 5.30pm if you want to watch the fishermen load fresh seafood.

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10pm-11pm: China House

The delicious food and cosy environment are some of the many reasons why many people are flocking to the restaurants located in a heritage building. Choose to eat in the elegant surroundings of BTB, their fine-dining restaurant or have a casual meal at their newly revamped Kopi C café.

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George Town

11pm-12midnight: Selera Sri Tambang

Selera Sri Tambang has been serving lip-smacking mee udang (Malay-style prawn noodles) with huge prawns and crabs for the past 20 years. The mee kuah comes with spicy sweet broth boiled with prawn heads and lots of tomatoes. The dish includes prawns, with tomatoes, hard-boiled egg, crispy shallots and a slice of lime.

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Bukit Mertajam

12midnight-1am: Sup Hameed

Fancy having nasi lemak, maggi mee goreng or a variety of aromatic soups for supper? Sup Hameed offers tons of soups on its menu, with popular ones including sup ekor, sup ayam and sup kambing. Their thick Indian bread goes well with the hearty soup.

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George Town

1am-2am: Main Street Café

Main Street Café is arguably one of Penang’s popular hotel venues to satisfy your supper cravings. Indulge in piping hot bowls of porridge served with an array of traditional teochew dishes. Priced at RM19++ per person, their buffet supper promotion comes with around 50 dishes and condiments to mix and match.

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2am-3am: Da Ban Chinese Restaurant

This Chinese restaurant has a huge offering of appetisers, pork dishes, seafood and porridge. Notable dishes include century eggs and spicy fried duck tongue stir-fried in garlic sauce, chopped chilli padi and chives. We also recommend the classic Szechuan dish of dried fried diced chicken, flavoured with a mélange of chilli and peppers.

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3am-4am: Old Green House Restaurant

Go for a comforting spicy bowl of Penang Hokkien mee at this stall. More commonly known as prawn mee, it comes in a fragrant broth flavoured with the sweetness of prawns and pork ribs. Garnishes include braised egg, beans sprout and chilli paste. Additional toppings of roast pork, chicken feet and fish balls are also available. This place is usually packed until the wee hours of the night.

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4am-5am: DeHappy Seafood Restaurant

How about some warm Teochew porridge for supper? The popular ones here are the stir-fried bitter gourd with bean paste, salted eggs, Chinese sausages, fried fish, curry chicken, sweet sour pork, braised pork and intestines.

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5am-6am: Restaurant Kapitan

A meal at Restaurant Kapitan is a good way to wrap up this food tour. This 24-hour outlet is the place to feast on tandoori chicken, nasi biryani and nutritious badam milk (almond milk). The milk is boiled with raisins, cashew nuts and saffron. The nasi biryani comes with the choice of chicken and beef and is served in claypots, accompanied by a light curry gravy.

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