Malaysia offers plenty of good food and doesn’t make your wallet bleed like most of Singapore’s outlets do.
And Penang, being a state that is relatively similar to Singapore (the Chinese speak Hokkien instead of Cantonese!), is one place that we love going, although it is a tad farther.
But if you’re going there soon, here’re ten foods you should try! Although most of them could be found in Singapore, let’s face it: it won’t be as authentic (and affordable) as the ones in Penang!
1. Assam Laksa
If you ask any local in Penang what they’d recommend, this is likely at the tip of their tongue. You’d better be able to hold your spiciness though, for this laksa will test your limits. With a thin tangy soup and smooth, thick noodles, this signature dish is a must try.
2. Penang Char Kway Teow
You may have seen and tasted this in Singapore before, but nothing beats Penang’s fresh ingredients and the lingering taste of the dish being wok-fried. Ingredients are aplenty and while it’s a great fried dish, watch out for the calories – it’s just as high as the Singapore version!
Deep fried meat encased in beancurd skin can be such a simple combination but nevertheless tasty. You can also find fishcakes, eggs, tofu, or sausage in place of the meat. To add a little extra zing, Loh Bak usually comes with dipping sauces like sweet braised sauce, and you might find a spicy sauce if it is offered too.
4. Penang Rojak
Some wonder whether this can be considered a delicacy when it’s just a mix of fruits, beancurd, you tiao and cuttlefish doused in dark sauce with peanut bits sprinkled all over. But it’s delicious no matter how odd it looks to the foreign eye, so it’s definitely a must-try for anyone heading to Penang. The thick sauce in particular will leave a wonderful taste in your mouth.
Oh, just for your info, the taste is very different from the Singapore ones. That explains why it’s called “Penang Rojak” instead of simply “Rojak”.
Maybe you’d like a little more green in your food? This salad offers a tossup of cucumbers, bean sprouts, turnip and bean curd, covered in a unique spicy sauce. Additions of fried octopus, potatoes, prawn fritters and fried crab give the dish even more variety. Pasembur truly shows how mixing different cultures together can present pleasant results, and delicious ones at too.
Now, this is something you’ll seldom find in Singapore.
6. Oh Chien
This greasy dish is simple yet satisfying. Omelette fried with shallots and oysters makes a surprisingly filling meal. With tapioca flour thrown in to give the dish more taste, this Chinese originated Oh Chien is one of the best guilty pleasures. Look at those huge chunks of oysters! How could you say no?
7. Mee Goreng
This is not your typical instant noodle. While Mee Goreng in Singapore can be rather dry or hastily cooked, Penang offers a spicy, tangy, and filling dish. Stir-fried with a combination of tomato, chili and soy sauce, it’s a tasty dish that presents various ingredients in the long noodles.
8. Prawn Malai Curry
How could you miss out on curry in the land famous for it? Most Malay dishes don’t go without a tinge of spiciness, and this dish not only gives you the hottest of all dishes, it also includes fresh, chewy prawns! With a cashew nut and coconut milk sauce paired with the seafood, it’s an excellent pick in Penang.
Once you’re done downing your choice of Penang delicacy, you might be looking for something for cooling down after all that spiciness. Say hello to this sweet shaved ice desert.
It’s commonly seen in Singapore but Penang (or in fact, most parts of Malaysia) ensures various possible add-ons on top of the already present red beans, glutinous rice (yes, rice!) and jelly noodles. Fortunately, despite the sugar syrup mixed in, it’s not too sweet so you won’t get tired of this delectable treat so quickly.
10. Apom Manis
Crepes aren’t just some classy western desert. While your typical cafe crepe requires tons of toppings to taste even the barest hint of sweetness, this Indian dish can be eaten plain, perhaps even tasting the best on its own. Its soft middle is sweet with a hint of egg, and can be dipped in coconut milk or eaten with sugar and bananas.
And if you’re lucky, you’ll find a stall that has a wide variety of toppings, from fried chicken to even meat patty!
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