Friday, October 2, 2009

12 Best Penang Food Poll

Penang is famous for its street food or hawker food. There are many varities. Recently the state government conducted a poll through internet for the 12 best Penang food. The 12 best Penang Food Poll is conducted by the government website,, the poll has concluded that the following are the list of 12 best Penang food :-

1. Char Koay Teow or Fried Koay Teow(炒粿条)

Penang Char Koay Teow (炒粿條), is the frying of flat white rice noddle called koay-teow. It is fried with prawn, cockles, eggs,Chinese sausage(lap-cheong), bean sprouts, chilli, soya sauce and Chinese garlic chives(韮菜)or ku-chai. The more expensive one fried also with duck egg and crab meat. Penang Char Koay Teow is different from the fry koay-teow of other place like Ipoh, KL, which use thick black soy sauce, which normally fried in mass and without chilli while frying. For Penang Char Koay Teow, it must be fried individually, and mixed with chilli, the quality of fire is also important. Frying by using charcoal fire will be a better choice as it offer better taste for the food.

The most famous Char Koa Teow stall is before Macalister Road/Perak Road round about at a coffee coffee shop, where Hong Kong superstars used to patron it. Another stall is at Kae Hong Huat, Lorong Selamat with premium pricing for few big prawns, popular by tourists. The original local taste char koay teow stalls are Carnarvon Street/Malay street coffee shop(they called it Tiger Char Koay Teow), in front of Kedai kopi Sin Guat Keong,Kimberley Street(night), Ho Penag Cafe(Penang Road,near famous chendol stall), Kedai Kopi Kheng Pin(Penang Road,near Odean cinema ),Rifle Range Hawker Complex, Jelutong Market(Lorong Ipoh), New Lane(at night), Siam Road(at night), Dato Kramat Road, China street etc

2. Penang Assam Laksa(槟城叻沙/亞三叻沙)

This is original Penang innovation of Peranakan street food, which may have Siamese and Malay influence ; a fusion food of different culture. It is sour soup with special noodle. Penang Laksa is a rice noodles served with savory fish based gravy, cooked with herbs and spices. The herbs and spices included shallots,cucumbers, pineapples,lettuces, mint leaves, chilies,ginger flower bud(bunga kantan). The soup is fish base with local spices,which include galangal(or lengkuas), lemon grass(serai), minced onions, chillies, polygonum leaves, and shrimp paste granules(belacan). The laksa soup is then add with salt , sugar and black shrimp paste(hae ko). There are two types of Laksa, assam laksa(tamarind flavour) and laksa lemak(sweet with coconut cream base).

Air Itam Market Assam Laksa is most famous with tourist. Penang Road(near Chendol store), Kim Laksa beside Balik Pulau old market, Kek Seng Coffee Shop(Penang Road) etc

3. Hokkien Mee(福建面)

It is called Hae Mee(虾面)by the local,which literally means prawn mee,which is the name for Hokkien Mee outside Penang.
Rice and egg noodles, served together with hard boiled eggs, small prawns, meat slices, bean sprouts and kangkung (water spinach) in a spicy prawn & pig bone (Chinese: 肉骨) stock.

The signature stall operates at Greenhouse at Burmah Road, Classic Coffee Shop opposite Padang Brown along Perak Road, Chowrasta Market, Heng Kee Cafe at Jalan Presgrave Road, Sungei Ara( opposite double luck coffee shop), Seng Tho Coffee Shop(Carnarvon Street) etc.

4. Chendol and Ice Kachang(煎蕊或紅豆冰)

(i) Chedol is a dessert with green noodles in coconut milk, brown sugar and shaved ice. There's a very famous stall at Penang Road near the jelly-fish like pedestrian bridge leading to KOMTAR,just opposite the state police station. Opposite the famous stall is another less popular chendol stall at the same street.

(ii) Ice Kachang or Ais Kacang, and some called it ABC, is consists of sweet red beans, seaweed jelly, barley pearls, sweet corn , attap palm fruit(atap-zi), dried grapes(raisin or sultanas),and fruits are covered with shaved ice, then laced with rose syrup, brown sugar syrup and sweetened condensed milk. Some stalls may add shredded nutmeg pickle, which is a Penang native spice. For some extra, ice cream can be added. Popular stalls are Lorong Selamat, New World Park etc.

5. Curry Mee(咖哩面)

Penang Curry Mee is small yellow noodle with curry soap,ingredient consist of thin yellow egg noodle or mee-hoon(rice vermicelli) or mixed with both. It is served with pig blood cubes, bean-pok(dried tofu), cockles, cuttlefish ,mint leaves. Some use chicken, egg, roast meat, which are not the original ingredients for Penang Curry Mee. The base soup is spicy coconut milk soup or curry. The soup and noodle is then stirred with the special chilli paste provided.

Popular places are Air Itam Sister curry mee(after the bridge, in front of Methodist Church), Tua Puei Curry Mee Stall(Weld Quey), Lorong Seratus Tahun, Kwai Lock Coffee Shop(Jalan Burma, near Pulau Tikus Market), Opposite Trader Hotel( at Jalan magazine side lane) , Stadium curry mee (in front of Tong Hooi Coffee Shop, Jalan Dato Kramat), Jalan Chulia(at night) etc

6. Seafood(海鮮)

Penang is an island and naturally seafood is important source of food for Penang. The seafood is a general terms. There are many varieties of seafood. It is too general to provide as a category of food items for poll. Moreover seafood are more a restaurant food not street food or hawker food, which is of high end food items.

7. Chee Cheong Fan(猪肠粉)

Chee Cheong Fan (猪肠粉)is steam rice noodle roll,where the rice sheet is steamed and rolled. The Penang Chee Chong Fan, unlike Hong Kong and other places, is served with the local delicacy,prawn paste; and without any prawn or char-siew fillings or mushroom gravy. Sweet soy sauce ,prawn paste, and chilli sauce is poured over the noodle rolls, and sprinkled with toasted seasame seeds. Prawn paste is the most important sauce.

Penang Chee Cheong Fan is typical Penang food, it can found in most hawker areas, New Lane, Kimberley steet, Chowrasta Market, Jelutong Market, Rifle Range Hawker Complex etc

8. Poh Piah(薄餅)

There are two varities, Mamak Poh Piah and Chinese Poh Piah. The original Poh-piah is from China, it is actually Chinese spring roll(春捲). The ingredient fillings wrapped inside the poh-piah skin or sheet. In the old days poh-piah sheets or poh-piah skin are hand make, it is from wheat flour, some add with eggs. The maker use charcoal stove and a steel wok. One of his hand (usually right hand) is like having an extension of a huge ball of white, sticky dough. He will then take the dough and swipe it very quickly over the kuali. The dough stuck to the hands and remains there the whole time. Then, using the left-hand, he will peel off the poh-piah skin on the wok. Then, he repeats the rhythm with the dough hand. And this goes on and on and on. The thin poh-piah sheets are make one by one, and it is time consuming. It must be as thin as possible, which must be able to hold firmly whatever the fillings inside the rolled up poh-piah skin without breaking. Nowaday, most of poh-piah sheet are mass produced by factory. I used to see poh-piah making at a corner shop at Carnarvon Street/Malay street junction,it is now no more operating there.

The ingredients of the fillings are chicken,lap cheong(Chinese sausage)or seafood like prawn, crab meat; bean sprout, vegetables like lettuce leaves, sliced carrot and cucumber. The filling ingredients are important as it is the mixture of the fillings that give the food the flavour. It is flexible, you can put anything as fillings, according to your taste. You can also fried poh-piah.

Popular places are Kek Seng Coffee Shop at Penang Road.


The mamak popiah(嘛嘛薄餅) are derived from Chinese poh-piah, when one of helper in Chinese poh-piah stall started the mamak poh-piah. The mamak poh-piah is similar to Chinese poh-piah in turn of ingredients, but additionally they use yellow ginger resulted in yellow color, which is similar to the vegetables fried at Nasi Kandar stall. The famous Mamak Poh-Piah is at Johore Road, which was found by K Sulaiman.

Mamak Popiah(嘛嘛薄餅),又稱Indian Popiah(印度薄餅),源自華人薄餅, 最早出現在檳城。許是早年華人咖啡店裡請了印度人當薄餅攤伙計,後來他們自己出來開業,便融合自身族群的口味而創出這別出心裁的版本!當然,薄餅皮肯定是向華人買來,生菜、豆芽、蛋碎和豆乾樣樣齊全,承繼華人薄餅的慣用食材,只是沙葛絲用了黃薑粉調味燉煮,色調鮮黃,醬料也明顯偏甜,符合了印巫兩族的習慣口味。

在檳城柑仔園大草場旁,與Dato Keramat路交界的Johor路上,有排簡陋的小販中心,不大,來來去去只有幾攤,卻是檳城人午後尋食的熱門所在;其中,有攤知名的Mamak Popiah,其創始人K.Sulaiman可說是檳城“嘛嘛薄餅”的靈魂人物。

(ref: Mamak Popiah, 林金城,

9. Nasi Kandar(扁擔飯)

An Indian-Muslim (Mamak) dish of mixed rice with an assortment of meat seafood and vegetable curries, the secret of which is in the mix of curries.

Nasi Kandar is a popular northern Malaysian dish, which originates from Penang. It is a meal of steamed rice which can be plain or mildly flavored, and served with a variety of curries and side dishes.

The word Nasi Kandar, came about from a time when nasi [rice] hawkers or vendors would kandar [balance] a pole on the shoulder with two huge containers of rice meals. The name has remained and today the word Nasi Kandar is seen on most Tamil Muslim or "Malaysian Mamak" restaurants and Indian-Muslim stall meals.

The rice for a nasi kandar dish is often placed in a wooden container about three feet high, giving it a distinctive aroma. The rice is accompanied by side dishes such as fried chicken, curried spleen, cubed beef, fish roe, fried prawns or fried squid. The vegetable dish would usually be brinjal (aubergine), okra (lady fingers or "bendi") or bitter gourd. A mixture of curry sauces is poured on the rice. This is called 'banjir' (flooding) and imparts a diverse taste to the rice.(source: wikipedia)

Among the most well-known is a place called Line Clear, off Penang Road(alley next to 177), Masjid Kapitan Keling. But there are many chain Nasi Kandar shops are coming up recently, the standard seems to decline, compared to the old Nasi Kandar stall.....

10. Chicken Rice(雞飯)

It did not mention is it Hainan chicken rice(海南雞飯)? there are many types of Chicken rice. I assumed the food selected is Hainan Chicken Rice. Rice cooked in margarine or chicken fat, is served with steamed chicken meat or roasted chicken meat, served chicken soup. Some will provide duck meat, lup-cheong, roasted pork etc. The chicken rice ready will poured with black thick soy sauce specifically prepared. Normally typical chilly sauce specifically for chicken rice will be provided.

The famous shops are Kedai Kopi Kheng Pin(Penang Road), Sky Restaurant(Chulia Street), Restaurant first famous federal(Lorong Susu), Fatty Loh Chicken Rice(Nagore Road), Long Xian Coffee shop(Jalan Rangoon)etc.

11. Satay

The famous meat-on-a-stick, is a traditional Malay food typically made from marinated meat - chicken, mutton or beef, skewered onto bamboo sticks and grilled over hot charcoals. Chinese hawkers serve a variant of satay made from pork. A fresh salad of cucumbers, raw onions are served together with a spicy-sweet peanut dipping sauce for dipping. Ketupat, a Malay rice cake, is sometimes served together with satay. It is famous as Malaysian food, but Penang is not famous for satay, I wonder how it was selected.

Popular stalls are at Padang Kota Lama,Gurney Drive, New Lane etc

12. Indian Mee Goreng/ Mee Rebus(印度面)

Mee Goreng is a cuisine of Mamak origin,fresh yellow egg noodles are stir fried with mutton or lamb, vegetables, tomato ketchup and spices, giving this fried noodle dish a distinctly unique Indian flavor.

Mee Rebus is a rich gravy made out of sweet potatoes, is ladled over fresh yellow egg noodles and bean sprouts. It is garnished with cooked squid, prawn fritters, boiled egg and fried shallots. A squeeze of a fresh local lime before serving.

Popular stalls are, Pulau tikus Seng Lee Cafe, Padang kota lama food court, Sungei Ara etc

The Penang Rojak(both fruit and Indian rojak) was not listed, Shar-hor-fun, Koay-teow-th'ng, lor mee, Pasembur,koay-kak, and many others , which are also famous street food are also not listed. Perhaps it is because Penang have too many good food, listing of 12 is not enough. Is the poll have enough sample to obtain Best Penang food? Why there is no categories of Chinese Food, Malay Food and Indian Food, as some Chinese food are non-halal, it will be better for poll to be taken on the 3 categories or even 4 categories to include other food. Satay and Poh-piah were selected, it may be popular food but not possible to be best 12 Penang food.

Best food depend on a person's taste bud, it also correlated to a person's age, favour, culture adoption, spirit of food exploration.... Durian may be heaven to some, but it is hell to others.

The same street food stall is good to be during my childhood day, but it is not that good when I become old as my taste bud has changed, or the aging has taken away my tolerance level for some spices or oil level, sugar level; which also taste different to me.

To a hungry person, all food taste good.

There is also the difference between original taste and commercial taste; charcoal fire and gas fire for frying, and local or foreigner helper who prepare it....

We should go for original Penang taste from only original food ingredients, like the food prepared during our grandfather days; not commercially prepared ingredients, with more ajinomoto, more sweetness with sugar, more artificial taste additives....

Remember your taste may not be my taste, as long as you have joy in the food after taking it, it is the best food....

Is the taste of street food today better than those in our childhood days? I wonder if my grandfather is still alive, what is his comment on Penang street food today ?.....

I go for old wet market , old town, villages,just to find the lost original taste....

How about you? Support original Penang taste?........perhaps it may have lost...

That is my best Penang food......

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