Hawker Food in Penang

Penang Hawker Food

Hawker Food in Penang is definitely one of the must-try local foods that everyone should experience when you are visiting this former British ruled island.

As Penang Island or Pulau Pinang is located on the northwest of Malaysia on an island which houses over two million Penangites (what locals from Penang are called), there are many ways to get there which are by self-driving, bus, train, ferry or by flight.

The island is also one of the popular places for a holiday destination as many locals and foreigners seem to enjoy the old world charm of UNESCO World Heritage Site Geroge Town.

As I have been to the island many times over the years, one thing that stood out for me as a local was the hawker food there.

Penang Hawker Food

Coffee Shop in Penang
One of the coffee shops in Penang

I will personally vouch for the originality of some of the famous hawker food which is found all over the island. Somehow, the unique and distinguished taste has managed to remain original despite change and modernization that has gone through over the years.

Some of these hawkers are found in the core heritage zone itself while a number of them are well spread over town at food courts, road shoulders and even under trees.

If you are a food lover, then Penang is one of the places you must try as they dish out some of the countries most famous local hawker dishes.

Penang Fried Kuey Teow

Penang Chow Kuey Teow

One of the most popular local hawker dishes in Penang is no other than the world-famous Fried Kuey Teow, which also goes by other names lie Chow Kuey Teow or stir-fried rice cake flat noodles. Some foreigners even call them fried flat noodles.

There has been raving reviews all over the internet about who has the best fried kuey teow while in my honest opinion, there is NO best in this category. They all have their own distinctive and unique taste.

Large prawns fried kuey teow. Photo by Becky Becks.

Among the many top contenders in this popular hawker dish, you will hear many people recommending personal favourite places in Penang for fried kuey teow.

Where To Try Penang Fried Kuey Teow
  1. Campbell Street Chow Kueh Teow who sells it by the junction, 
  2. Lorong Selamat Chow Kueh Teow who a lady in goggles fries it in front of a coffee shop, 
  3. Sisters Chow Kueh Teow at Burma Road and 
  4. Fried Kuey Teow with crab meat at New Lane, off Jalan Macalister 
  5. Fried Kuey Teow stall at Long Beach Food Court in Batu Feringgi
Penang Asam Laksa

Asam Laksa Penang
 A bowl of the famous Asam Laksa

Penang Asam Laksa is another popular local favourite which can be found in many places throughout the island in different styles. 

Asam Laksa is, in fact, a fish-based noodle or gravy soup done mostly by the Chinese and even Malay hawkers. But the one from Penang seems to be the most well-known dish and can be found throughout the island. 

The Penang Asam Laksa dish also made it into #7 at CNNs 50 Worlds Most Delicious Foods in July 2011, and currently is accepted by many travellers in Penang. 

Even for locals visiting Penang, they would go out of their way just to sample some of the islands best Asam Laksa places.

Where To Try Penang Asam Laksa
  1. Ayer Itam Asam Laksa - Probably the most famous
  2. Penang Road Asam Laksa - Famous with TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet
  3. Joo Hooi Cafe - Another Laksa with recommendations by travel books
  4. Gurney Drive Asam Laksa - This is one of the pioneer famous laksa's in Penang
  5. Taman Emak Kopitiam - More of a local Laksa joint with great taste
Penang Asam Laksa Photo
Asam Laksa from Penang

Penang Hawker Food Photos

Below you will see a series of photographs related to some of the popular hawker foods in Penang just to give you an idea of what they look like.

Some of them may look strange, but I can assure you that they are absolutely one of a kind. The only way to find out is by trying some of them.

Personally, I cannot wait to go back to the island to explore the many other hawker favourites, as every time I go, there will be some new Penang food to experience.

Penang Pasembor
Pasembur Penang, a unique dish to try

 Penang Cendol

Satay Penang
Penang Satay being cooked. Photo Mohd. Fazlin.
 Teh C Peng Special and Iced Coffee

Must-Try Drinks in Penang

While you are out there on the streets trying out the many local favourites, do not forget to try some of the local coffee and tea, which is consumed by locals regularly.

Around Penang, you can find the famous Teh C Peng (Special three-layered iced tea with milk) and some awesome local brewed coffee from the many coffee shops.

If you should know, Teh C Peng Special is also well known around Sarawak Borneo and often called three-layered tea there.

Penang Ais Tingkap
Ais Tingkap and Pasembor in Penang

Unique Hawker Delights in Penang

Among the strangest hawker food found in Penang, you will most likely come across Fried Chicken Skin, eaten by itself, and is a delicacy among the locals.

This snack is not easily found, therefore you will most probably find them as road side hawkers or at some food courts.

One of the places where you can most likely find the fried chicken skin is at New Lane Road night hawker.

A van sells them and for those who enjoy all part of the chicken, there is the bishop's nose and neck which is also deep-fried.

Hawker Center Gurney Drive Penang
Gurney Drive hawker centre in Penang. Photo Wikipedia.

Hawker Centers in Penang

There are a few well-known hawker centres in Penang, and the most famous of them being Gurney Drive, which is really crowded and mostly with tourist. Local foodies do not come here from what I know.

The locals prefer to go to other lesser-known hawker centres in Penang, and I do that too when I visit the island. 

Famous Hawker Places in Penang:
  • Swatow Lane Food Center
  • New Lane Hawker Street
  • Gurney Drive
  • Batu Feringgi
  • Ayer Hitam Market Area

Immigration Nasi Kandar Penang
Famous Nasi Kandar Immigration in Penang

For photographers, the Pearl of the Orient is a wonderland as it is rich in culture and heritage. While hunting down your food, you are bound to come across a very unique Southeast Asian lifestyle, interesting places of worship and even pre-war buildings. 

One of the interesting places to visit on foot would be the Penang Peranakan Mansion and Museum which is located around the main George Town area.

And as a photographer, I managed to capture a series of Pictures of Penang during my walkabout around George Town.

Fish Head Curry Penang
Penang Fish Head Curry


While there are so many choices of local hawker dishes available here, I have highlighted only a few of them in this article. The rest is up to you to explore while you visit the island of Penang. 

On a side note, if you have a weak stomach, all is not lost! You still have the option of trying some of the famous Penang dishes which can be found in proper restaurants, cafes and even on hotel menus.

But honestly, for the food aficionado or street food lover, nothing beats travelling around the island looking for good hawker food in Penang, Malaysia.

Malaysia Asia

Blogging since 2007, but writing online since 1997. I belong to the 1st generation of worldwide bloggers, which is of course old-school. Since 2008, I created Malaysia Asia and this travel, flood, gadget and lifestyle blog has won numerous physical awards from tourism boards around Malaysia. (Not those online awards). After 12 years of blogging, I have semi-retired and now blog about things I like, do product reviews and enjoy life. My work has been featured in Lonely Planet, CNN Travel, Yahoo Travel, Wall Street Journal, and many other international publications. Find out more about me and thank you.


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