10 Great Street Food In Penang - Updated 2024

Chia Han Keong
Chia Han Keong 
| 5 min read

Click on any online travel guides about Penang, and you are bound to see the words “food paradise” pop up somewhere. Yes, this island in the northwestern part of Peninsular Malaysia contains such a breathtaking variety of cheap and delicious food that you will definitely be making return trips to sample them all. Penang’s history as a British colony and trading post means that it has a rich multicultural tapestry, as well as ample ingredients and spices to cook up a storm. And its laid-back, unpretentious residents have stayed true to their roots, still cooking their dishes by the roadside instead of in swanky restaurants to make it economical for all. These street food have become legendary among food junkies all over the world, and here are 10 of the most iconic bites you can find around Penang.

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Penang food Penang street food Penang street food 1

Penang is a food paradise. The island offers an endless variety of mouth-watering dishes and snacks that can satisfy the most exquisite taste buds. Penang is also a melting pot of different cultures, which is reflected in the local cuisine that incorporates Malay, Chinese, and Indian cooking. Come & taste our street food during your tour in Penang. Ask your tour guide to recommend & bring you there.

1. Assam Laksa (from USD 65.0)

Together with Malacca and Singapore, Penang was part of the British Malaya division of the Straits Settlements, and a key trading post for the British empire in the 19th-century. The lure of paid work drew immigrants from China and India, many of whom married local Malay women and stayed on these shores to raise their families. They formed the basis of the Peranakan culture, and natural their food was a wondrous mix from these three ethnic groups. The Assam Laksa is one such tasty Peranakan concoction widely found among Penang streets, a popular glass noodle dish in a spicy, mackerel-fish based broth which has tangy undertones. It is a unique take on the Laksa dish found all over Malaysia, and great for those cool or rainy days when you need a warm pick-me-up.

Air Itam Laksa

Address: Jalan Pasar, 11500 Ayer Itam, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

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2. Hokkien Mee

Penang-style Hokkien mee
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Melissa Law used under CC BY 2.0

There are typically two kinds of street food setup in Penang. One is the traditional push-cart stall, while the other is set in open-air shopfronts along the street. You can therefore easily drive up to both kinds of stalls and order takeaways. Such informal settings lend a communal vibe among the hawker and the customers, and you can watch your delicious food being cooked on the spot. This flavorful prawn noodle dish is widely available in many forms around Southeast Asia, originated from the Chinese immigrants from the Fujian (Hokkien) Province. The savory broth is made from stewing dried prawns and prawn heads, and the dish imbued with more flavor with the addition of pork slices, fish cakes, bean sprouts, shallots and red chili paste.

CY Choy Road Hokkien Mee

Address: 533 Jalan CY Choy, George Town, Penang, 10300, Malaysia

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3. Apom Manis (from USD 88.0)

Most of the street foods can be found in the Penang state capital of George Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site filled with pre-World War II houses, 19th-century churches, temples, mosques and colonial buildings. The neighboring towns of Air Itam and Jelutong also have famous street stalls around. The place to go in George Town for great food is Chulia Street, where a dozen or more hawkers will set up their push-cart stalls, with tables and chairs by the roadside in the evening. Try the Apom Manis, a popular snack which resembles a crepe. You can add toppings such as coconut, bananas or egg.

Chulia Street Night Hawkers

Address: Lebuh Chulia, 10200 Georgetown, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

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4. Nasi Lemak/Nasi Kandar/Nasi Tomato (from USD 88.75)

Nasi Lemak Bungkus
Source: Photo by Flickr user Jonathan Lin used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Every culture has its unique take on its staple food. In most parts of Asia, that staple food is rice, and Penang has many different and delicious rice dishes from its diverse ethnic groups. For instance, the Malays have the Nasi Lemak (rice cooked in coconut milk) which tastes heavenly with sambal chili. The Indian Muslims have the Nasi Kandar, rice cooked in wooden containers with an assortment of side dishes. Another uniquely Penang rice dish is the Nasi Tomato, rice cooked in tomato paste with milk and spices. All are available as cheap street food, perfect for a quick lunch or dinner.

Nasi Melayu Pak Man

Address: 6, Jalan Trengganu, Taman Free School, 10460 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

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Penang Tour Guide

Ang Chin Boon

Ang Chin Boon

Hello...I am ANG. Licenced Tourist Guide by Ministry of Tourism Malaysia. I was born and raised in George Town, Penang. I just love Guiding! I have been actively doing guiding all these years. Drive my guests to interesting places in Penang Island, Sharing my knowledges & experiences of George Town. I wish their trip becomes story worth sharing. Will you be one of my esteemed guests ?

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Penang Tour Guide

Vincent Fong

Vincent Fong

I am a licensed tourist guide of Malaysia specialising in the English language, though I am also able to communicate in the Chinese dialects of Mandarin, Cantonese, Taishanese, Hokkien and my country's national language of Malay. I do all tours inbound of Penang island such as walking tours, food tours, drive tours, historical tours, hill & temples, etc. I am a tourist guide with passion an... Read more

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Penang Tour Guide

Beth Chong

Beth Chong

My interest in travel started from childhood and when I was a teenager, I went for my first solo backpacking trip to Paris and London. It resulted in my working in the Tourism Industry and eventually becoming a nationally licensed Tourist Guide of Malaysia. I managed to go to almost to every corner of my country and now, have become a trainer of Tourist Guides imparting knowledge and experience... Read more

Penang Tour Guide

Hon Seng Phuah

Hon Seng Phuah

Hello. I am Hon Seng Phuah from Penang. I am a freelance tourist guide since 2013. My tour service includes Penang around island and George Town heritage walking tours. You may experience the Penang multi-culture and best foods like Penang assam laksa, nyonya cuisine, nasi kandar and to name a few, traditional business activities, colonial buildings, modern living city and last least the greene... Read more

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Penang Tour Guide

Jenny Wan Kim Lim

Jenny Wan Kim Lim

Hi, I'm Jenny! I love showing people around Taiwan and Malaysia. I grew up in Penang and spend a lot of time in Tainan too. For the past few years, I've been a licensed tour guide for these 2 countries , sharing my passion for exploring. Being a guide isn't just a job to me, it's what I love doing. I enjoy finding hidden spots, introducing you to tasty local food, and making sure you have amazi... Read more

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5. Char Koay Teow (from USD 62.0)

Char Kuey Teow
Source: Photo by Flickr user Charles Haynes used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The secret to many of Penang’s delectable dishes lies in their use of the wok. This versatile round-bottomed cooking vessel can be used for many cooking methods such as stir-frying, deep-frying, poaching and also to stew. And after a chef has used the same wok for years, the utensil acquires what locals call “wok hei” or “vessel fragrance”, as it is imbibed with the flavors of the spices and ingredients. This subtle nuance is what makes Penang street food so delicious, and none more so than the iconic Char Koay Teow, stir-fried rice noodles with sweet black sauce, prawns, cockles, eggs, and sprouts. A rich (some say decadent) dish that encapsulates the delightful combination of all kinds of flavors in a typical Penang meal.

Tiger Char Koay Teow @ Kafe Ping Hooi

Address: 181 Lebuh Carnarvon, George Town, 10450 Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

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6. Mee Goreng (from USD 51.0)

Mee Goreng is ubiquitous hawker food found everywhere in Malaysia and Singapore. In Penang, one stall stands head and shoulders above the rest – Bangkok Lane Mee Goreng. The dish is a substantial plate of noodles with generous portions of cuttlefish, potatoes and bean sprouts, stir-fried with a tangy concoction of tomato, chili and soy sauce. The stall’s business has been passed down several generations, and you can check out the owner or his worker’s cooking skills as they toss the noodles while adroitly turning the wok.

Bangkok Lane Mee Goreng

Address: 280, Jalan Burma, George Town, 10350 Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

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7. Penang Rojak (from USD 62.0)

Unlike street food in cities like the New York City, where the emphasis is on fast and ready-to-go food, you may have to wait patiently in long queues for great Penang street food. However, the longer the queue, the bigger the stall’s reputation, and so the food on offer should be good. This snack is popular because it is ready-to-go; it consists of bean curds, fritters, bean sprouts, cuttlefish and an assortment of fruits mixed in a thick syrupy peanut - or shrimp-based sauce. The good stalls will include sweet pineapple slices to balance the savory concoction. A variation of this dish is the Rojak Pasembur, which includes cucumber, prawn crackers and even seafood in the mix.

Tan Swee Hoe Rojak (Stall #52)

Address: Gurney Drive Hawker Centre, 172 Solok Gurney 1, Georgetown, 10250 Jelutong, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

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8. Lok Lok (from USD 62.0)

Lok Lok is a communal form of eating in Penang, where a variety of different ingredients are placed on skewers such as oysters, vegetables, shrimp, crab sticks, fish/meatballs, and mushrooms. Once you choose what you want, there is a communal pot of boiling soup base to cook your food in. The street hawkers will recommend what sauce to choose based on the stick you have. All of the skewers have different colors which will indicate a different price. Once you’ve finished your meal, the vendor will count the sticks you have on your plate to total your bill.

Lok Lok@Pulau Tikus Market

Address: 250, Jalan Burma, 10350, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

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9. Roti Canai (from USD 63.0)

Roti Canai is a popular Malaysian breakfast dish, consisting of flatbread grilled on a big flat pan and served with a generous amount of curry. It is also called flying bread as in the process of making, the dough is flattened, tossed and twirled high up in the air several times before being shaped to cook on the pan. The consensus among locals for the best Roti Canai in Penang is at Transfer Road, where you can find chicken drumsticks to go along with your flatbread and curry.

Transfer Road Roti Canai

Address: 110, Jalan Transfer, Georgetown, 10050 George Town, Malaysia

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10. Teochew Chendul (from USD 57.0)

This is the must-try dessert in Penang. It is basically a bowl of shaved ice filled with chewy green rice, flour jelly, red kidney beans, fresh light coconut milk and a splash of Gula Melaka (brown sugar) syrup. After chowing down rich and spicy meals all around the island, it is great to have this ice-cold snack to cool down. The famous Teochew Chendul stall at Jalan Penang in Georgetown has been selling this dessert for more than 40 years, and you can see the entire family helping out at the tiny stall with super long queues.

Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul

Address: 475, Jalan Penang, Georgetown 10450 Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

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Great and cheap food

It is rare that you can find so many great foods in a small island like Penang. It is even rarer to find great food that is so cheap, costing about USD 1 to 3. It is no wonder that Penang has become one of the top food destinations in the world, and you don’t need to spend a bomb in order to sample the wondrous flavors of the best local dishes out on the streets.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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Han Keong is a former sports journalist in Singapore whose lifelong passions are travel and music.

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