There’s No Place Like Penang

We’re not in Kuching anymore, Toto.

welcome to Penang

We’re off in Penang for a whirlwind trip to visit Annie’s family and eat, eat, eat!

Going Home

We were here in Penang last year to visit family for Chinese New Year. Penang has some of the best food in the world. However, many of the vendors were shut down for the holiday, leaving us stuck with not too many choices of places to eat – resulting in lower-quality and higher-priced food. In addition, many of Annie’s family had gone out of town. Based on that experience, we vowed not to go back to Penang for Chinese New Year.

This time, we got a good fare on Air Asia to fly from Kuching directly to Penang. No need to fly to KL first and then drive another 4 hours to Penang. Just a short, 2 hour hop, and we’re there! You should have seen the smile on Annie’s face as we walked from the plane.

She was home.

First Things First

Of course, the first thing we do when we get home is eat. Penang has no shortage of places to eat. There are hawker centres in every neighborhood of the city, and they all do a bustling business. Annie’s uncle brought us to Kafe Mandarin in the Island Glades neighborhood in Penang.

Kafe Mandarin @ Island Glades, Penang

kafe mandarin lorong delima 5 island glades penang

There are many stalls all lined up in a row, with each stall specializing in one type of dish or another. Once we took our seats and ordered our drinks, we each chose which dish tickled our fancy.

Annie got the kway teow th’ng (flat rice noodles with fishballs, fish cake and shredded duck meat in a clear soup), which she had been craving for a while. I went for the assam laksa – that sour-sweet-spicy-fishy soup noodle dish is one of the dishes that Penang is most famous for. We shared a portion of the char kway teow (wok-fried rice noodles with egg, prawns, Chinese sausage and beansprouts). To top it off, Annie’s aunt suggested the pan mee (fresh wheat noodles with pork, mushrooms, cangkuk manis and fried ikan bilis in soup) because it was good.

kway teow th'ng   assam laksa   char kway teow   pan mee from mandarin cafe island glades penang

That’s right, four noodle dishes, right off the bat! They were all good, in their own way. The best part about each were the fresh noodles -so soft, smooth, and pliable.

(More food from Kafe Mandarin on Food Diary of a Picky Eater)

Eat Again

After taking a few hours’ rest to digest, we again headed out to Island Glades for dinner. This time, we ended up at the Seng Hin Cafe, on the opposite end of the row of shoplots that Kafe Mandarin was on.

Annie’s uncle visited the nighttime char koay teow stall, run by this gentleman who has been cooking char koay teow for over 40 years, starting with his brother at the now defunct Rex Theatre. Surely, a cook with that many years under his belt would have perfected his signature dish!

Nighttime Char Koay Teow @ Seng Hin Cafe, Island Glades, Penang

char kway teow stall - seng hin cafe - island glades - penang

Annie picked up a packet of chee cheong fun (steamed rice noodle rolls with sweet shrimp sauce and sesame seeds) from another vendor.

char kway teow   chee cheong fun from seng hin cafe island glades penang

Both dishes were great because the noodles were fresh. There’s just this mysterious, wonderful and elusive flavor that is found in good, fresh rice noodles.  A quality I haven’t found yet in Kuching.

(More food from Seng Hin Cafe at Cokeworld Citizen)

What’s YOUR favorite noodle dish? Leave us a comment and tell us about it!

I am entering this post in the Muhibbah Malaysian Monday roundup, created and hosted by Sharon of Test with a Skewer. This is the first post in a series of Penang food that we’ll be putting up, hopefully every Monday. Don’t want to miss any of them; be sure to subscribe to our blog via RSS or email!

Aloha, Nate

8 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Chris says:

    Hello Nate and Annie and Family!

    Happy New Year to you guys!! I have to say it’s a good thing I just had my lunch before reading this post and looking at all the yummy pictures. There are so many noodle dishes that I miss from home but if I have to pick a favorite…it’ll have to be Sarawak Laksa of course, :-D followed closely by the Tomato (Sauce) Kway Teow…have you guys tried it yet in Kuching? And not far behind is Kway Chap!

    • Nate says:

      Hi Chris,

      Happy New Year to you too!

      We love Sarawak laksa – have it at least once a week. Tomato kway teow not so much though. Our favorite kolo mee stall also makes some good tomato MEE, however we hardly eat it because we love the kolo mee so much ;-)

      We like kueh chap but not as much as laksa or kolo mee.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. borneoboy says:

    Hi Nate. Lucky you ! Every time I go to Penang I put on a few kilos ! The elusive taste of the rice noodles comes from the quality of rice used. In Kuching I think most of the noodle makers skimp on the quality.

    • Nate says:

      Hi CW

      interesting observation about the quality of the rice. I never thought of that.

      Do you think the quality of the rice affects the texture as well?

  3. babe_kl says:

    I loved Penang too all cos of the food :p

  4. Yum, lots of good looking street food! Enjoy your family visit!

  5. shaz says:

    You’re so right when you say Penang has some of the best food in the world, but then again I’m probably biased :) All the dishes sound delicious and started a huge craving. Especially the char kway teow. Drool.

    Quick note, Muhibbah Monday is a co-creation with Suresh from 3 Hungry Tummies :) Cheers!

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My Photo Annie is mistress of the kitchen while Nate is the master of the grill and smoker. We cook the homestyle Asian and Hawaiian foods of our younger days while also exploring the wider worlds of Western foods.

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