Known as the food paradise of Malaysia, Penang offers a mouthwatering spread of delicious delicacies to choose from, most notably its world-famous street food. Penang’s cuisine reflects the Malay, Chinese, Indian and Nyonya ethnic mix of Malaysia, combined with influences from other parts of the world.
This timeless traditional dessert is a bowl of shaved ice topped with basic ingredients comprising coconut milk, jelly noodles, palm sugar and shaved ice. Additional ingredients such as red beans, grass jelly, creamed corn and glutinous rice may be included. Its smooth and creamy consistency makes it the perfect treat to enjoy especially on a hot day.
Known as ABC (acronym for ‘Air Batu Campur’, meaning ‘mixed ice’), this refreshing dessert comes with a serving of sweet corn, kidney beans, palm seed and grass jelly. The generous scoop of shaved ice is then topped with palm sugar, rose-flavoured syrup and evaporated milk or coconut milk.
Widely known as the national dish of Malaysia, Nasi Lemak is a definite must-try. The fragrant rice in Nasi Lemak is cooked with coconut milk, taking its aroma to a whole new level. Wrapped in banana leaves, it is served with small portions of anchovies, peanuts, sambal (chilli paste) and a hard-boiled egg.
Derived from Teochew and Hokkien, popiah means ‘thin wafer’. This refers to the skin which is a crêpe made from wheat flour. These spring rolls are filled with a host of ingredients such as grated turnip, lettuce leaf, beancurd and egg bits. They are dipped in chilli sauce, sweet sauce or black sauce that further enhances its flavour.
This Indian-influenced flatbread is essentially dough containing flour, fat and water. This mixture is thoroughly kneaded and subsequently flattened, oiled and folded repeatedly to create a distinct level of suppleness. Traditionally, it is consumed with various hot, spicy curries such as dahl (lentil curry), mutton or chicken curry.
Originating from the Peranakan (Straits-Chinese), Assam Laksa is a dish of thick rice noodles in spicy and sour fish broth. Most well-known for its distinctly tangy, sourish flavour as a result of the addition of mackerel flakes and tamarind, other Assam Laksa ingredients also include lemongrass, chillies, prawn paste and thinly sliced onions.
CHAR KOAY TEOW
Well-known and well-loved throughout the world, this hawker dish of flat rice noodles are stir-fried with soy sauce, lard, chillies, eggs, prawns and bean sprouts. In Penang, crab meat is sometimes added on top for extra flavour. Packed with a strong, burned wok flavour, it is simply too good to pass up.
Originating from the Indian-Muslim culture, Nasi Kandar is one of Penang’s best known dishes. In the past, hawkers carried baskets of food and rice hanging from a yoke (kandar) across their shoulders hence it is called Nasi Kandar. Steamed white rice is served with plenty of thick, flavourful curries as well as meats and vegetables.
TAU SAR PNEAH
Known as Tambun Biscuits, these dumpling-shaped pastries have a sweet and savoury filling made from semi-moist grounded mung beans. Baked to golden perfection, they have a slightly crisp, flaky texture. Every bite is delightful due to the distinctively sweet or salty taste.
These palm-sized pastries come in different colours, designs, shapes and texture. They can be coated, filled, layered, sliced or wrapped. Most are steamed but some are boiled, baked, grilled or deep-fried. Some of the popular ones are kuih talam, kuih lapis and kuih bengka ubi.