Penang Food – Penang is famous for many things, but the reason we wanted to go there was simple: the Penang Food was supposedly amazing.
When we heard this we were sold, and left Thailand to indulge in Indian curries for one fifth of the price in Penang.
What makes Penang a food heaven are the many varieties of cuisine; Arabic food stalls, thai restaurants, Indian, Malay, Nyonya, Chinese, Lebanese… the list goes on.
After spending a whole week staying in one of the many great Penang hotels, we have also managed to eat so many of the famous Malay sweets and desserts, here are a few of our favorites:
Nyonya Kuih in Palm Sugar Sauce
Made of glutinous rice this steamed sweet is actually pretty tasty. The palm sugar coconut sauce tasted a bit like licorice, and the nyonya kuih was also pretty nice, if you’re used to jelly sweets.
It’s made out of pea flour and Pandan juice. There are many different varieties of the Kuih, but ours was pretty simple with one layer only. The Nyonya kuihs are very popular in Penang.
Nyonya is a traditional Penang food, and refer to the Chinese migrants who came to Penang and other parts of Malaysia in the 18th century. The food is a mixture between Malay and Chinese cuisine, and is called Nyonya food.
Green noodles in coconut milk, brown sugar and shaved ice. Yes, you read it correctly, those are the actual ingredients… It sounds crazy, but it’s one of the most common desserts in Malaysia and has been part of the Penang food tradition for decades (some have been selling Cendol since the 1920’s), and although it’s weird, it’s worth a try just to know what this combination would taste like!
Fried Ais Krim Goreng
Some people might not like the warm oily deep fried crust covering cold and creamy cookies and cream ice cream inside – but I LOVED it.
The Fried Ais Krim Goreng is a Malaysian favorite treat, and you’ll see it everywhere on the Penang food menus.
If the Penang food isn’t surprising enough for your taste buds, I can guarantee you that this dessert will be. This is even weirder than Cendol – this is the weirdest dessert I’ve ever had. Red beans, ice cream, lychee fruit, corn, shaven ice and grass jelly? All mixed up, and it tastes….interesting…
Parts of the dish are sweet and blend together really well, like the fresh fruit, ice cream and jelly. But then you get these bites of bean, corn and water (the ice melts really quickly), which doesn’t blend very well with he flavors.
The Ais Kachang used to only consist of shaved ice and red beans, so the additional flavors – if a little strange, definitely make this type of Penang food taste better.
When in Georgetown, you have to try the Indian sweets! The Indian servings are pretty big (some gigantic, so look out!), so you probably won’t feel like dessert when walking out of the restaurant – but buy it for later, because you will want to try and see what those bright colored things really taste like.
Don’t expect anything sweet like the western candy, this is totally different. Karanji is a common sweet, but there are often whole stalls selling Indian sweets only, in all kinds of colors and shapes.
Steamed and Fried Kuih
The Kuih is a rather strange part of the traditional Penang food, as it almost looks inedible. It actually tastes pretty good, and is not as sweet as it looks. Many Malays have a plate of Kuih only for lunch, and since they’re pretty filling, that is enough food to last you a few hours.
So take a trip to Georgetown in Penang, forget about the waist line for a little while and let yourself indulge in the Penang food!