Georgetown is a Unesco World Cultural Heritage site and the capital of the state of Penang, an island situated just across the bridge from Mainland Malaysia. This is also the capital of street food in Malaysia. This place has it all, from simple Chinese bread and dim sum to Indian Rotis and curries. You want Japanese, they’ve got it, how about Armenian food, it’s there. Each one within walking distance to the other and they are all within the newly established boarders of the Unesco Heritage site. Best of all, our hotel was right in the middle of it all. Just half a block from Kimberly street, one of the most well known food hawker areas in all of Penang lies the Apollo Inn. This hotel might be one of the most hospitable places we’ve ever stayed, but we’ll save that for a later post, because we’ve got food to talk about.
While walking through the streets of Georgetown dodging scooters and cars, you’ll find food around every corner. There might be a restaurant, a café, a food cart pushed by a withering old man or a pedal cart cruising down the street with a line of cars behind it, waiting to pass. Jason tried some Chee Cheong Fun, which is a thin sheet of rice noodle rolled into a long tube, then cut into pieces and served with a shrimp paste, chile sauce and sesame seeds. We had read that in 2009, this dish was number seven on the must eat street food list and although it was ok, it might have gotten a little too much hype. Out of the back of a truck came the little pork sandwich that could. This tasty little morsel is nothing more than a flat piece of meat created from minced pork and covered in a sweet sauce served on a roll, but it is delicious. Also on the tasting list were a variety of fried noodle dishes, fried bread treats and anything made from rice flour. Healthy food that would be approved by your cardiologist? Not exactly, but it was good.
For the carnivore, Georgetown is easy to grab a bite to eat as your walking through old neighborhoods with dilapidated buildings in Chinatown or passing through Little India while music pours out of a clothing store selling traditional saris. As for the vegetarian, it’s not that easy, but we struck the jackpot at an Indian vegetarian restaurant called Woodland’s on Penang Street. We got so excited that we ordered a little bit of everything as we always do when exploring a new menu that grabs our attention. On our table sat Idly, a steamed rice and lentil patty with chutney and sambar sauce. There was also Panni Poori, which is a fried crisp hollowed out and filled with chutney, potatoes, chaat masala and chile. After the appetizers we enjoyed Malai Kofta, a cheese and smashed potato croquette simmered in rich gravy. The last dish was Jeera Rice, which is a butter fried cumin seeds sauted with mild indian spices and basmati rice served with raita. Filling the last possible space on our table was a traditional Mango Laasi drink. We finished every last bit of the food and left with food bulging from our eyes and ears all for a grand total of 19.90 ringgits or $6 USD!
There is so much in Georgetown other than food to explore as you walk the streets, (not the sidewalks because they’re usually covered with scooters or some sort of goods from a business) almost going back in time to experience life as it was a hundred years ago. If you stay in Penang, we suggest somewhere close to Georgetown and we highly recommend the Apollo Inn for your accommodations. Stay tuned next post for Georgetown’s street art!