I’m back from Penang and every now and then, I like to switch it up a bit here. That’s what “Ctrl+Alt” is for and in this edition, you get a yummy guide to Penang’s Street Food!
My parents are from Penang – which if you didn’t know – is in Malaysia. In fact, my whole ancestry basically. It’s a town that has a mix of a little modernity but more colonial history. With big black and white bungalows scattered everywhere, some of them abandoned, this was a hot spot for the British and a pit-stop for the wealthy overseas. Most parts of Georgetown, the main area, seem like time just stopped as old shop houses, signages and old town hawkers dominate the scene. It’s mostly the hokkien speaking chinese who live in Penang, sorta seems like home when everyone speaks the way you do. But just as much as it feels like home, nothing feels more like home than when I’m in Singapore.
But c’mon. Besides the old-world feel, there’s only one reason why you would come to Penang. The food. The street food to be exact. This isn’t for the faint-hearted, the beauties who are afraid to eat, this is for the hearty, I want food and good food now kinda gal. That’s me. In Penang, you can’t worry about the calories, you just gotta stock up for the winter because you never know if you’re going to taste this goodness again.
It’s all in the hawkers. The dirty streets of Penang. These mouthwatering creations are all thanks to hardworking men who slave at the wok, with determination, non-stop, serving less than two dollar meals to hungry patrons who visit their stalls.
So here’s a guide to good street food. I didn’t cover everything but you’ll be sure that the weight you pack for it will be un-regrettable. Don’t worry babe, when you get back home, it’ll just come off because you won’t eat as much. So enjoy!
Muah Chee - you can find this in Singapore but in Penang, it’s like a different story baby. It’s quality peanuts and sugar that coats these glutinous blobs of rice flour like mochi but the beauty of it is that it’s less sophisticated. The blob of glutionous goodness is plopped into a peanut and sugar mixture and cut and covered, scooped in a styrofoam case and speared with toothpicks ready for you to munch up.
Sar Hor Fan - more so pronounced Saw Haw fan. It’s a hong kong style, wok fried, smoked up, flames everywhere mix of flat type noodles, stir – fried with gooey egg sauce, soup stock, seafood or chicken. It’s a gooey noodle mess that’s soo good.
Ban Jian Kueh - It’s good as a snack or a street type breakfast. Think a crispy crepe with a cakey center with peanuts, sugar, margerine and the optional banana chopped into a griddle. This creation is folded over and served hot!
Otak Otak - I love this stuff. This is great. You can find this all over Singapore as well. Think a mixture of delicious and fragrant spices, fish paste, coconut milk, shallots, tumeric and wrapped in a banana leaf, steamed to perfection. Scoop it in a spoon and send it to your mouth. Flavour, spice explosion.
Wan Tan Mee (Wonton Noodles): Ok, Ok, everyone in Singapore knows this dish. It’s here too. I get it but this was good and for all of those who don’t know what wan tan mee is, imagine springy egg noodles, doused in dark soy, oyster sauce and stock, with slices of char siew (roasted pork) and wantan on the side. Leafy veggies ontop give it a fresh and crispy bite. Mmmmm.
Penang Hokkien Mee: Prawns boiled in spicy seasoning to create a delicous, naturally sweet broth. Egg Noodles, slices of pork ribs, bean sprouts and hard boiled eggs makes this soup noodle dish a definite winner!
Lor Bak - man, I’m getting hungry. It’s a meat roll, rolled in wonton skin, deep fried and served in a mix of other yummy bites like chinese sausages, fishball bites and a plum, starchy, syrupy condiment! It’s a great appetiser.
Rojak - this is an acquired taste. It’s a salad of chopped up fruits and veg like pineapple, cucumber, green magoes, turnips, cuttlefish and jumboo (or water apple), covered in a sticky sweet sauce of assam, gula melaka at times, prawn paste and soya sauce. After the whole thing is mixed, chopped peanuts are sprinkled ontop for a very robust and flavourful mix.
Goreng Pisang - this is probably the biggest health killer but anything goes when you’re in Penang including your healthy diet! Oh baby, think the sweetest variety of banana, battered and deep fried to such crisp perfection that bits start to flake off as you bite into it. Mmmmm…Other fried bites include gado-gado which is a deep fried ball of banana and flour (tastes better than it sounds) and tee kueh with yams – deep fried yam sandwiches with sweet gooey centeres. Oh yeah.
and there you sorta have it. Of course, there are so many other good things to eat in Penang. The best of the best cendol & ice kacang and APOM (soo good).
I hope you liked this post as much as I loved writing it.
UPDATE: I’m no longer going to London & Paris, staying in Singapore for Christmas so look forward to more posts from yours truly. London is having a tough time with many stranded at the airports, if you are, man good luck and I’ll pray that the snow starts melting.