There was a lot of positive agreement from all of you, that my first day in Penang was very exciting. The heat and the sights and the friendly people reinforced why I had stowed Penang in a happy place in my memory. So here’s Penang Food Tour. Let the eating continue.
The last time I was in Penang I slept all day and stayed up all night the whole time I was here, but that dear ones, is an incredible story for another time. For now, it is our second day in Penang and it’s breakfast time. None of that hotel stuff for for us, because Penang has more choices of food in the morning than any other time. Some street vendors and restaurants are open only up to lunch time, and even then their morning popularity means that most of their specialities are gone by about 11 am. Don’t get me wrong there is interesting munchies everywhere all of the time but it seems everyone goes out for breakfast and the choices are numerous. First stop coffee at Toh Soon cafe, without this coffee Birdie my friend in food and adventure would not have been able to start the day. Fair enough, the coffee at this little cafe is the perfect alarm clock.
This cafe on the corner of Jalan Penang and Jalan Sri Bahari near The Whitehouse Hotel is open early. Amongst other goodies they do a deep fried selection. We tried Penang White Prawns in batter ( Heehchee) and Lora Bak , Pork fillet rolled in bean skin and deep fried.
The heat is ramping up even though it’s only around 9 am. It’s a heat that zaps your energy and requires you to find another shady restaurant with a fan as soon as possible. We head for Lebuh Campbell just of Jalan Penang, where we see a lot of people in Tho Yuen Restaurant at number 92. The tables outside are full but one of the staff see us peering in and usher us to a table under the fan just inside the door. Oh yay, yum cha!
Staff here were lovely. An older lady sidled up to our table and asked us quietly if we would be wanting a custard tart. She explained there were only a couple left and she had put them away for someone but we could have one if we wanted?
While enjoying our feast a skinny pregnant cat rubs itself on my leg before being shooed out. I order a delicious BBQ pork fillet sausage roll, and taste it but save the rest for Mummy Pussy, giving it to her as she waits outside, purring at her good luck. A walk is in order before the next stop. There’s a lot of street art around George town, quirky signs, paintings and lots involving animals and cats. Some of this art is sponsored by the Australian owners of China House , a massively popular cafe/ music art space. There is now a festival and street walk to raise money for homeless animals in June.
So what’s China House? China House is three heritage listed buildings cobbled together fronting onto Beach Street ( Jalan Pantai ) and Victoria Street behind. There are restaurants and cafe spaces. A wine bar, art and performance space and a Mexican canteen and a bar a cafe and formal restaurant all in one place. It has a huge afternoon tea spread along with all day breakfast and a good latte if you are looking for one. Part of all takings go to looking after street animals. The reason I went for coffee and cake (if I needed an excuse).
On to places less good looking but very tasty all the same. Birdy and I were told to high tail it over to the Sky Hotel, 348 Chulia St for BBQ’d meats. They are best known for Char Siew Rice but we are after a snack of roast duck and pork. The crowds are already there at 11.45, with lines out of the door. When we get a table we are seated and consulted by a middle aged lady who suggests the mixed plate and rice with greens. We wait our turn as the man at the front chops and slices like his life depends on it, till we are delivered our delicious fresh roasted meats
It’s hot now, the heat is melting our overstuffed backs as we trudge down through the backstreets of heritage listed Georgetown on the way back to Jalan Penang. Even though their is a pool at our hotel we hop on a bus to Tanjung Bungah where there is rainforest, and Monkeys and a small respite from the city and we can go for a paddle at the beach. A bus is very easy to catch from just about anywhere in town. It’s a 1 hour journey that passes through forests of apartment blocks, shops and hotels and resorts that cling to the edge of the waterfront . There are lots of great restaurants and a food night market but we are heading out here for a little break.
The view from the restaurant at the Tropical Spice Garden and Cooking School, Tanjung Bungah
It’s amazing how a paddle in the Ocean and a walk under the trees can prepare you for dinner. We have decided to get off the bus before it gets all the way back to Jalan Penang, down town. There are several Nyonya Restaurants here on Lorong Abu Siti. Nyonya is described as an amalgamation of Chinese and Malaysian cooking. When the straits Chinese settled in Malaysia they had to adapt their cooking, using turmeric, lemon grass and chilli amongst a other local spices This area is a gold mine of restaurants including several Nyonya. We are hunting down Nyonya Breeze which turns out to be a pristine, air-conditioned oasis with some of the most interesting food on the trip.
The stand-outs were the Pickled Fish steak in a ginger and turmeric oil and the Nasi Ulam a steam rice that has been tossed with salted fish, blachan and loads of finely sliced herbs and oh, the Prawns in a spicy tangy gravy with stink beans. ( yes they are stinkuy but look like broad beans and taste like cabbage.
At night walking seems so much less laboured, in the cool and feels quite safe. We cross over Jalan Burma and on to Jalan Nagor to find a street full of modern cafes and restaurants of every description including a bakery. Well worth a visit next time. We follow Larong Hutton back around to Jalan Penang and our Hotel about a 15 minute walk, past a mixture of the old and new, market eating stalls and large establishments like Hotel Penaga a large 2 story bar/ restaurant and hotel . The streets have come alive with locals eating and watching the world go by. It’s a place of great contrast with groups of pretty transvestites giggling together and people chilling, chatting and eating all out to sample the cooler air.
More interesting pictures coming up. What’s KL like and what street food is called “carrot cake” in Penang when it isn’t actually cake at all?
We stayed at “The Cititel” in Penang 4 star and right in the middle of George Town on Jalan Penang, if you need a hotel. Around $80.00 a night from Asia Rooms.