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Foodie’s Guide to Penang
Penang’s richly-woven history and melting pot of cultures have transformed it into one of Asia’s foremost gastronomic destinations. Here’s a guide to our favourite local street-food delicacies to sample during your stay…
Probably the most famous dish in Penang, assam laksa is a delicious stew that comes highly recommend by both locals and visitors alike. The base of the dish is an exquisite sour and spicy broth (the Penang version is thinner than the traditional), flavoured with tamarind, lemon grass, shrimp paste and a healthy helping of chillies. Poached mackerel and rice vermicelli complete this Penang delicacy, and sky rockets it right to the top 10 of the top 100 foods in the world – a definite must try!
Penang’s oh chien is a street food favourite, and pays homage to the Chinese influence over Malaysian cooking. Oh chien is essentially an oyster omelette containing relatively few ingredients (oysters, egg, chives and rice flour), but is a very tempting snack for any Penang wanderer. Because of the frying technique used to make this Malaysian treat, the omelette ends up delightfully crispy on the outside and beautifully fluffy and soft on the inside. Served with a side of zingy chilli sauce, oh chien should definitely be on your list!
“Mee”, meaning “noodles” in Chinese, is the base of this delectable Malaysian classic. Served in a comforting hot broth with prawns, chicken (or pork), vegetables and mushrooms, wanton mee rarely fails to delight the taste buds. Penang’s addictive version strays slightly from the original by serving wanton mee with sweet, dark soy sauce. Locals enjoy theirs with a side of dumplings and a dollop of spicy sambal sauce (a tasty chilli sauce).
Another famous Malaysian delicacy, nasi lemak (or coconut rice) combines silky coconut infused rice – resting on a fragrant banana leaf – with sambal, anchovies, peanuts, and a hardboiled egg. Nasi lemak’s delicious flavour is loved by kids and adults alike, and can be found in both high-end fine dining restaurants as well as in many of Penang’s fantastic street market stalls. Although this Penang favourite is usually a breakfast treat, it can be enjoyed at any time of the day. Whether you’re having it for breakfast, lunch or dinner, nasi lemak is a tasty start (or end) to any day in Penang.
Cendol is one of Malaysia’s most popular (and delicious) desserts. The famous Penang Road Cendol stand serves up a creamy tropical blend of coconut milk, jelly noodles, shaved ice and palm sugar – Penang makes this dish its own by adding red beans and creamed corn to the mix. Enjoyed either in a bowl or in a glass as a beverage, Cendol is the perfect refresher after a day of sauntering about in Panang’s gorgeous tropical weather – especially with a nice topping of vanilla ice-cream.