Travel like a local

Penang Highlights Self-Guided Tour of Penang's Best Food

If you're in Penang for a short amount of time and want to do a self-guided tour of some of the best local food, then follow this guide to the highlights of Georgetown:

Banana Leaf Rice @ Veloo Villas

Banana leaf rice is probably my favourite thing to eat for lunch in Malaysia and Veloo Villas is my go-to place. Make sure you follow my tips for what to order.

Roti Canai @ Taha's

Easily my favourite snack in Malaysia, roti canai is one of the national treasures. I'm very picky with my roti canai and it's regularly a let down so choose wisely. Taha's is my favourite place in Penang. It's a little road-side stall catering to local workers. Get there before 11am.

Hokkien Mee @ Old Green House

Known as "prawn mee" in other parts of Malaysia, Hokkien Mee is an intense prawn noodle soup which I highly recommend. The standard of Hokkien Mee in Penang is actually very high but the version at Old Green House wins for me and it's a great lively place to visit in the evenings. They have another branch that's open for lunch and is closer to Georgetown, but it lacks the atmosphere.

Nasi Lemak @ Ali Nasi Lemak

The most common way to eat nasi lemak (Malaysia's national dish) is in banana leaf pyramids. I recommend getting the traditional version with anchovies and egg.

Chicken Samosa @ Penang Special Samosa

Possibly the best samosa I've ever had.

Cendol @ Penang Road Famous Teo Chew Chendul

This stall has been going for over 80 years and it's probably the best cendol I've had.

Asam Laksa @ Pasar Air Itam Laksa or Joo Hooi Cafe

Different from the coconut milk laksa that you may have had before, the Penang version is sour and fishy. It's delicious and is a big deal in Penang.

Char Koay Teow @ Kimberley Street or Siam Road

Char koay teow is one of the most famous dishes in Penang. The stall on Kimberley Street is in a handy location and the stall on Siam Road is possibly the most popular but that comes with a long waiting time.

Wantan Mee & Curry Mee @ Chulia Street

They are two separate stalls, next to each other. The wantan mee is really great but make sure you get the right stall as there's a second on further along the street which isn't good. It's common to order both the wantan mee and curry mee to the same table.

And if you have time...

Nasi Kandar @ Line Clear, Deen Maju or Beratur

Nasi Kandar is one of Penang's most iconic dishes. It would be on the main list but it's not everyone's cup of tea and it's very filling so not ideal if you're attempting to try as many local dishes as possible in a short space of it. Line Clear is popular with tourists and is in a very central location. Deen Maju is more of a favourite with Malaysians and you'll have to queue. Beratur is a unique experience as it doesn't open until 10pm and there will be a long queue, especially on weekends.

Tandoori Set & Almond Milk @ Kapitan

The tandoori set is really delicious (especially with butter naan) but it doesn't make the main list because it's similar to tandoori you can get in other countries, so it's not special to Penang.

Mee Sotong & Coconut Shake @ Esplanade Park

A great lunch spot. You can order the mee sotong and coconut shake together but they're actually from two different stalls.

Popiah @ Kimberley Street

A tiny stall on the street corner opposite the char koay teow stall recommended above. Order some popiah to have with the char koay teow.

Nutmeg Juice

Most "coffee shops" (the name given to the indoor collection of food stalls) have nutmeg juice on their menu. It's quite unique to Penang and reminds me of cola. It's worth a try!

Pepper biscuits @ NG Kee

This shop has been making these interesting pepper biscuits since 1928.