Heritage on a Plate

Penang Food

Intermission: Some Penang Food Favourites!

Food Tour, Malaysian Food, Penang FoodDanny MahesComment

Hello! This week I wanted to take a break from our regular Penang in Pictures and Friday Flashback series, and show you some gorgeous food pics. Oh, and if you don't already know, the "intermission" is from old films they used to show at the cinema. Typically, midway through the film there'd be a 5-10 minute cut for toilet breaks. That's when you'd go out to stretch your legs and top up on the cinema snacks like chickpeas and sugared nutmeg. It was pretty cool!

Penang Kopi (Local Coffee)

if you've met me or been on one of our food hops in Penang, you'll know that I'm addicted to the local coffee. This stuff is so good. The local coffee, or kopi as we call it here, is often flavoured with spices, butter and palm sugar. If you walk into a shop and ask for kopi, you're in for a wild ride. Flavours can range from nutty and sour to sweet and spicy. It usually comes with condensed milk and sugar, so you might want to ask for less sugar, or strong and black with no sugar or milk to really savor the flavor.

hop penang food tour coffee kopi

Nyonya Otak Otak (Braaaaainnnsss)

When the zombie apocalypse finally rolls around, I'll be well prepared. By which I mean that decades of enjoying the Nyonya Otak Otak in Penang will have prepared me to consume brains as a zombie.

The dish is actually made from mashed fish and flavoured with spices, curry powder and in Penang, daun kaduk (wild pepper leaf). It's steamed in banana leaves for the Nyonya version, which has the consistency of a nice custard. The Malay community will grill it, giving it a more solid texture quite similar to fish cake.

The name itself means "brains" in Malay, due to its... well, brainy look. The otak otak is notoriously difficult to photograph, so I'm pretty happy this shot came out looking anything other than a brainy pile of mush :P

hop penang food tour nyonya otak otak

Penang Nyonya Assam Laksa

These pictures were initially part of the Laksa Shootout series, but I decided they were a little too specific. I wanted to capture the range of colours and ingredients, and the little quirks at different shops.

hop penang food tour assam laksa

This picture is from the Penang Road Famous Laksa, and I really loved how the colours from the mint, shallots, torch ginger flower and pineapple (!) really came together.

hop penang food tour nyonya assam laksa 1

This is from the other laksa place just up the road, and I really loved the detailing on the chopsticks. It gives the place it's own personality. I've become aware in the last few years about how strongly we are conditioned to consume without pause, with no chance to take a breath and critically examine the things around us. Things like this remind me that this isn't just another laksa on the list. It's a place with it's own character, personality and history.

Something to remember as we explore this beautiful world together. Safe journeys and good eating.

Friday Flashback: Our Favourite Penang Food Part 3

Food Tour, Penang FoodDanny MahesComment

Hey, guys! Another Friday, another food flashback here. I hope your week has been going very well, and that you're going to be getting some much needed rest for the weekend (or some much needed excitement?) When I was going through pictures for this week's FF, I came across some really delicious rice dishes that I haven't had in a while. I'm putting them up so you can go find them if you're in Penang for the weekend. But I'm also putting them up as a reminder for me to go eat them again soon :P

Penang Nasi Campur

In Penang, we're big on rice especially during lunch time. The nasi campur or "mixed rice" concept is flexible, affordable and nutritious. It's like a buffet of dishes and you can choose the ones you fancy to go with your serving of white rice (sometimes cooked with ginger, or with butterfly pea flower.)

One of my favourite nasi campur places in the afternoon is Pak Yusof Nasi Melayu at the Traders Cafe on Jalan Macalister. The picture below is from 2017, and you could say this was a pretty light meal compared to my usual visits. I took some fried fish with sambal (chili paste and lime) sauce, tauhu sumbat (stuffed fragrant tofu), bean sprouts and egg. But they have easily 20-30 different dishes out for the weekday work crowd.

 Behold the seductive glow of carbohydrates

Behold the seductive glow of carbohydrates

Penang Pork Rice

Nestles in one unassuming corner of Lebuh Chulia is probably one of the most popular pork rice shops on the island. Wai Kee Char Siew sells pork rice every afternoon and the place is filled to the brim with hungry, expectant fans. You'll have to come early, around 11.30am, just to get a spot. Once the crowd starts going, there's an average 15 minute wait before you get a table.

Just a note about this (very overexposed) picture. I was still fiddling around with camera settings and trying to figure out how to take semi-decent food pics at the time. So, it's not really my best work. But I figured it was... informative?

hop penang food tour pork rice

Kailan Pork Rice

Ok, stay with me here. I know it looks err humble. But this here is one of my all time comfort foods. It's made in a little stall at the KOMTAR building on Jalan Magazine, by a husband and wife couple. Chopped and steamed kailan, with salted fish and roasted pork belly, served with piping hot white rice and a sour-spicy Thai chili sauce on the side. It's crunchy, salty, so pork-fatty good. When I'm having a bad day, this and a cup of iced Kopi makes it all better.

hop penang food tour kai lan pork rice

Ok, that's it for this week! I'll be back again next week with some more food pics rummaged from the depths of my memory as well as my SD card. Eat well!

There's a lot of good food in Penang. The Friday Flashback series will help recap some of our recommendations and help you decide which delicious dishes to have on your trip to Penang. For more food favourites, read Part 2 of our Friday Flashback series.

 

Friday Flashback: Our Favourite Penang Food Part 2

Food Tour, Penang FoodDanny MahesComment

Hey, guys! I'm back with a FF post for you. Back in 2016, we used to do breakfast food tours as well as the current lunch and dinner hops. It was a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed doing it. But we've had to put it on hold so we can concentrate on making the lunch and dinner hops the best they can possibly be. I'm really looking forward to doing it again soon, though!

Breakfast in George Town: Chowrasta Market

I took these pictures sometime in 2016, I think? They've been sitting on my hard drive since and I thought this is a good time to put them up! The Chowrasta Market in George Town is a historic site and the original site was founded in 1890. It was named for the South Indian Tamil community that made up most of the vendors at the time.

These days, it's represented mostly by the Chinese small vendor community. The structure itself has been renovated, but is a press of stalls crowding the surrounding streets in the morning. You'll find everything from produce to plastic pails to underwear here! I'm mostly here for the food though.

hop penang food tour breakfast market

Penang Curry Noodles

 The curry noodles at the Chowrasta Market Food Stalls is really popular. It's a creamy, sweet broth of coconut milk and curry accented with spicy shrimp paste on the side. It's served with seafood, egg noodles and vermicelli.

The curry noodles at the Chowrasta Market Food Stalls is really popular. It's a creamy, sweet broth of coconut milk and curry accented with spicy shrimp paste on the side. It's served with seafood, egg noodles and vermicelli.

Penang Chee Cheong Fun

 Chee Cheong Fun is flat rice noodles served with sweet, tangy, sour and soy sauces. You'll find this dish in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur as well, but in Penang we like to do it a little bit differently. The local version is served with thick sauces that includes either a sweet chili sauce or a spicy sambal. This place is just around the corner from Chowrasta Market, on Lebuh Kimberley.

Chee Cheong Fun is flat rice noodles served with sweet, tangy, sour and soy sauces. You'll find this dish in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur as well, but in Penang we like to do it a little bit differently. The local version is served with thick sauces that includes either a sweet chili sauce or a spicy sambal. This place is just around the corner from Chowrasta Market, on Lebuh Kimberley.

I'm going to have to visit the Chowrasta Market again sometime soon. It's best to drop by early-ish in the morning, and I feel like a good time is around 8.00 a.m. By then, the usual crowd is mostly done with their grocery shopping, but the stalls are still open and ready for the breakfast crowd. Go take a look when you can!

There's a lot of good food in Penang. The Friday Flashback series will help recap some of our recommendations and help you decide which delicious dishes to have on your trip to Penang. For more breakfast favourites, read Part 1 of our Friday Flashback series.