You may have heard from some that Penang is the “Street Food Capital of Asia”. If you have travelled most parts of the continent, then you must know that there are some worthy contenders to consider like Bangkok, Manila, or Shanghai. But what sets Penang from all of them is the culinary fusion that transpired in the city. Foreign influences may have played a part in creating the food they have now but the Malays make it a point to stay in their roots even as different cultures pinch in to create the melting pot that is known as Penang.
To say things simply, Penang has successfully combined cooking ideas from inside and outside of the country to create a new age of Penang’s culinary scene. If you are looking to travel and book a Penang hotel shortly, here are some must-try Penang dishes.
Originally of Chinese origins, Penang’s Lor Bak is a fan favorite among hawkers. Traditionally, minced pork is marinated and then rolled into soybean sheets before it is deep fried in hot oil. Other Asian countries might recognize this as the street food mainstay kikiam, but with a crunchier texture and is usually served with thick chicken broth (also called Loh). Look for Uncle Lau at Khen Ping Cafe if you want the best Lor Bak in Penang. It is, without a doubt, a certified Penang famous food.
Otak – Otak
Otak means brain in Indonesia, and so the dish was named after its brain-like appearance in your plate. It is a boneless fishcake, its spice being one of its signature tastes. The bones of the fish are removed at the start of the preparation, the meats is then put in a blender to be finely minced. After adding hints of soy sauce, salt, some spices and then chili, it is wrapped in attap leaves and then grilled to perfection. Although also prepared in a Penang restaurant, it is encouraged that you try the delicacy served by the street stalls to fully enjoy the experience.
Literally meaning to dip, it is a steamboat style cooking stall where customers stand around a metal stall, the center of which is a pot of boiling water where you cook your food of choice. Whether you are in a meaty mood, or maybe fish, vegetables, Lok Lok will be the go to stall for the budget traveller. The most popular choices are clams, squid, crab sticks, and pork and chicken intestines. If you are in a rush and in need of a quick bite, a Lok Lok stall is the place to eat in Penang.
Of course, your Asian street food adventure would not be complete if you haven’t tried the local noodle delicacy. Another dish of Chinese origin with a Penang twist, Asam Laksa is a sour noodle dish served usually with hot soup, or curry sauce. Asam Laksa, like the Mami of the Philippines, is a local mainstay in the streets. And surely, with such tasteful ingredients you are in for a flavorful eruption for your taste buds.
The only fruit in the list, and quite the wildcard, Durian (which came from the Malay – Indonesian word that loosely translates to spikes), is often called the King of Fruits. Its strong odor and tough, spiky shell makes it easy to remember. But all the efforts put into unraveling such marvel of a fruit is worth every bite of its sweet and savory ripeness. After even just a single bite, it is understandable how the British explorer Alfred Wallace was quoted describing it as “a rich custard highly flavoured with almonds.”.
And so, these are just some of the top choices of food and places to look for if you are walking the streets of Penang. Tune Hotels Penang is located along Jalan Burmah, which is surrounded by a variety of eateries where you can find these savory delicacies. Book a room in our hotel to easily access these wonderful treats! The city is well known for its diversity and rich multi-layered culture so feel free to explore and be adventurous. Dip in and savor the flavor that is the taste of Penang.