Visiting Penang means an unforgettable experience with one of the world’s most famous food cultures. It’s the most extreme case of engaging one’s sense of taste, making a truly lasting experience. Eating through any place is the best way to go about a trip, and this Malaysian hub of cuisine is one of the world’s hallmarks. That’s where Penang’s Gurney Drive comes in.
Food in Penang
A single photograph quickly brings back the heat on my neck, the bright colors, and a distinct mix of flavors encapsulated within a wall of sea-salt air. Renowned in Asia and spread throughout the world, Won Ton Mee or Won Ton Noodles certainly won me over. A lot was happening on the plate as it arrived at my table in Penang. Among the noodles were slices of pork, leafy greens, dumplings, and a sauce so delicious that my belly craved more and more as the trip continued.
Nasi Lemak and Chicken Rendang
We spent a morning at Penang’s Tropical Spice Garden and walked around, learning about various spices during our walking tour. Afterward, their very kind chef showed us the way around cooking a few different Malay dishes. Nasi Lemak and Chicken Rendang were a couple of them and had I not burned the former’s peanuts, this would have been a perfect meal. I’m too hard on myself. It was still good!
Spend time in Georgetown or elsewhere in Penang and you’ll likely find Hokkien Mee. There are different variations of it so don’t worry if yours doesn’t look like this one.
Satay. Ah, now there’s a great concept—throw a delicious marinade onto meat on a stick and throw it over a fire. I mean, how can you go wrong?
In the “completely random” department, we found some pretty cool dessert while scouring the hawker malls in Penang. One find was from a Syrian food stall and when you see baklava offered anywhere, isn’t it par for the course to try it? We did and yes, it was awesome!
Out of everything available, Won Ton Mee was THE dish on my mind each day. It is often found throughout Malaysia and different varieties exist all over Southeast Asia. There’s so much food in Penang to go around that everyone’s favorite must differ. That’s the beauty of traveling somewhere far away. You’re able to make your own adventures and memories.
I’d love to know what you find most appealing about food in Penang. Let me know in the comments section below and keep the conversation going:)
This Penang travel guide is part of our series on Food Travel, Malaysia Travel, and Southeast Asia Travel. It was originally created on September 1, 2014. It has been maintained and updated (as of December 27, 2018) to reflect current viewpoints and travel trends.
46 thoughts on “Eat All the Food in Penang”
What a lovely post, and nice pictures 🙂 all of them looks delicious, my favorite one was Satay when we visited Malaysia last year. Similar food was also in Bali, but the Satay was better in Kuala Lumpur.I m hungry now, need to get some foodie 🙂
Mmm, I love Malay food. It would appear I need to make a pilgrimage to Penang sometime in the near future! Great pics, now I’m hungry again!
How was the cooking class? I’ve done one for Thai food, but haven’t done it for Malay cuisine.
The cooking class we did was pretty awesome and most distinct from the others we’ve done perhaps like you in Thailand and in Bali. This one we lucked out on because nobody else showed up and it turned into a glorified private lesson. We first started with a tour of the Tropical Spice Garden and learned all sorts of cultural and historical things from the man who took us around. The cooking class afterwards was great because we made 3 dishes and ate them all at the same time. It seems that other ones we’ve done are more into the “cook and eat” style which I’m more a fan of until my belly can’t take any more:) Highlight for me was smashing up some shrimp paste and cooking my own Chicken Rendang!
Great photos! I think food is a great way to relive a travel experience. I love trying to recreate delicious food I have encountered while traveling and getting to relive the magic again!
Man, that’d be a challenge for sure. I don’t know if I can recreate some of the tastes I found on Penang. But maybe it’d be worth the challenge!
Malaysia is known for its rich cuisines and culture. And like everyone is saying, the photos made me hungry too.
Thanks Tuhin! I’m getting hungry again looking at them.
Well, you have succeeded in making me hungry. What about the sauce made it so delicious?
Ok, now you’ve done it. I am famished. I loved the pictures! I know I haven’t had Won Ton Mee. I think I’ll need to add it to my list of things to seek out and try.
That food looks amazing! I love the bright, vibrant colors in Asian dishes and the complex flavors. I often long for the dishes we ate while we were in Thailand a few years ago. Thai food in the United States just does not compare to the real thing!
Thai food is the best, I think sometimes. Always have a craving for some Massaman Curry (which I’ll be writing about soon) and some Pork fried Rice. Such wonderful smells and flavors all around!
The food looks delicious. I don’t think I’ve ever had Won Ton Mee, but your post prompted me to look it up and I found a couple of recipes. Sounds fantastic.
If you can recreate what I had, you might just have another person wanting to come to your house for dinner. Best of luck to you on that!
I love good food, and your photos look mouth watering!
Thank you! They are making me hungry just thinking about them.
This looks like a foodie’s heaven!! I haven’t been to Malaysia but friends have assured me that I will love the food there. I believe they have lots of Indian food available there too.
There’s quite a bit of Indian food to be found there, good and bad. Kuala Lumpur has a Little India but it’s not that great. I think the better restaurants can be found elsewhere, away from the designated Indian district.
Those colorful pictures really bring the food pleasures of Penang to life. I’m not big on pork, so I don’t think I’d enjoy Won Ton Mee, but the vegaetables look tasty!
Hm, I think the bottom center picture might have something right up your alley. If you can see that dish on the upper left of that picture, that’s Nasi Lemak. Delicious stuff. Pan-fried peanuts with anchovies, coconut rice, and a boiled egg sliced in half. We made that during a cooking class on Penang and it was most delicious.
So much color in that food. Great food pics. I. Love. Noodles. I want to have a feast right now 🙂
Fried noodles are the best. But hey, any noodles are great as long as their cooked and have a delicious sauce or seasoning. Thanks for stopping by!
I’m sitting here already hungry and have now been pushed over the edge. Drooling is not my best look so I better go find a meal that can stack up to your photos. You are right about travel enhancing the sense of taste. I think I can remember a great meal in almost every country I have been to. Savoring a meal with memories of the environment is a return trip to that country for free.
I definitely agree. Each day I write something, I pour through photos and occasionally come upon some food. It’s good and bad because I then have to find something to eat quickly, just like you.
These look totally amazing, though I suspect it’s in part because of the professional job you do in presenting them. Thanks so much for the post.
Thank you so much. I’m hoping to continue finding delicious food to present for you.
I will go with “food to travel for”. I will definitely make that trip Carl. Great pics.
Thanks Welli. Much appreciated.
Great pictures and frankly it made me hungry! I think I may have had Won Ton Mee in Hawaii some time ago. If not, it was something very much like it and I loved it!
Hi Carl – It’s before eight o’clock in the morning and I am absolutely starved just looking at these photos – the Won Ton Mee looks unbelievable – do you think they would deliver?
Hm, they delivered to my table so what’s stopping them from crossing an ocean?:) I hope you found something good to satisfy your hunger.
Hey Carl, it is great to see you covering the food aspect of travel. Both your photos and descriptions really bring the flavour of Penang to life. Hope you will do moe of this from time to time
Thank you Paul. It is something that I’m looking to write about more because food is an important part of travel. Just looking for different ways to approach it, though presenting it as a special reason to visit might just work. I appreciate the encouragement. Cheers!
That looks delicious! I love won tons and noodles, so it sounds perfect to me!
Thanks for the comment! I’m starting to get hungry now just remember the food.
I went in Penang 10 years ago >_< the Hokkien mie is definitely my favorite!
Wow Nana. Yeah the Hokkien Mee was great. Well everything there was delicious and it was really tough to narrow down to one. Penang is amazing!
If there is anything that can unite various cultures, it is the food! So where are the recipes?!
Hm. I’m not a very good cook so traveling to these places and enjoying the food make up for that lack of skill. Thanks for stopping by!
A lovely post! Great photos! My mouth is watering now. Gotta come back in the morning before breakfast 😉
Lol. I hope your breakfast was up to expectations. Thanks for stopping by!
Well, that made me hungry.
I just looked again. Now I’m hungry! Thanks Tom for stopping by!
The pictures of mouthwatering dishes… I never been there though. It is one of the things in my bucket list.
Thank you so much. Penang is such a great place and hopefully I can go back.
Ooh looks delicious, you take great food pictures!
Thank you so much and thanks for stopping by!