I was in Penang for a business trip last week. 🏝️ It’s the land of food so I made sure to properly plan my meals so I could maximize the amount of delicious hawker food I could indulge in during my short time on the island. I made a list of the must eat foods within close proximity to Cititel Penang (the hotel I was staying at) and walked to most places so I could work up an appetite.
The first meal I had was at Macallum Connoisseurs Coffee Company. ☕ I had a work lunch meeting here so I took a Grab straight from Penang Airport. This is a converted warehouse that serves primarily coffee (and gelato) as well as a selection of hot food. I went for the Macallum’s Coffee Spaghetti (RM 23) and an iced latte.
The coffee spaghetti was made with creamy coffee sauce and chorizo pork sausage. 🍝 It tasted surprisingly good. I originally expected this to be more of a novelty dish but it was rich and delicious, with an aftertaste of roasted coffee beans and pepper. The latte was excellent too! Our business associates picked up the bill – thanks for lunch!
I checked in the hotel after lunch and worked for a while before heading out for some char kueh tiaw. I wanted to eat at the esteemed New Siam Road Char Kueh Tiaw. 🍳 This is probably Penang’s most well-regarded CKT, better than the tourist-overrun Lorong Selamat CKT. There was a sizable queue even at 4 pm in the afternoon.
I waited about 20 minutes for my plate of CKT. You need to queue up before you can get seated. They don’t take orders and deliver to the table. Check out the huge industrial blower they have going! 🔥 This is still made on an old school charcoal stove and the blower supplies the wind to keep the heat high.
I love the CKT here at Siam Road. It’s easily the best CKT I’ve eaten in Penang, which makes it the best CKT in the world. The wok hei flavors come through really well, providing a smoky aroma that goes perfectly with the charred lap cheong (Chinese sausage), soft cockles, and crunchy beans sprouts. 💨 It’s exceedingly delicious! 10/10.
I could still eat after that so I went to Sup Hameed beside my hotel for a snack. I’ve eaten the sup torpedo here 10 years ago. That’s bull penis soup. 🐂🍆 I remember enjoying the gristly and gelatinous bovine dick. I wanted to try something different this time so I ordered their famous Sup Kambing (Goat Soup).
All their soups use the same base, it’s just the protein that’s different. You can see the different cuts of meats and organs they have on the soup prep station. 🍖
This is what their goat soup (RM 7.30) looks like. 🐐 People usually eat it with thickly sliced bread (RM 0.80). Their bread has a charred, bitter edge that goes very well with savory soup dishes. There’s not a lot of goat here though, but I didn’t expect much due to the price. It’s mostly bones with a bit of meat sticking on them. Not a bad snack though!
I had to rest for a while after all that food. The next destination was a good 4 hours later at night. I’ve heard of a place called Moody Cow Café which serves slices of cake priced RM 42 and above. 😱 I thought that was a shockingly expensive price tag for just a slice of cake! I was very intrigued. I had to go and see what they’re about.
Moody Cow Café is one of those Instagrammable cafes with a beautiful interior and seating arrangements. 📷 I love their vintage high-backed chairs and quiet environment. It is very dark inside though. I think that’s why they’re named moody – the temperamental lighting is a conscious ambiance cue.
I ordered their flagship Cempedak Madness (RM 42) cake. 🍰 They have several different premium ones, including a chocolate rum concoction but the owner recommended this as their bestseller. The RM 42 slice was generous, tall and thick. It’s made with tons of real cempedak fruit. It’s an extremely rich cake with lots of butter and cream and tropical fruit and I had to struggle to finish the slice.
The cake slices here are definitely meant for sharing. It’s too cloying for a single person to eat. 💀 I did enjoy the Cempedak Madness cake though. I know I’ll have enjoyed it more if I were hungry. It’s very expensive but worth a try if only for the sticker shock kudos you’ll get from social media.
Nasi Kandar Beratur is another Penang institution that I wanted to try. This place is famous for opening at 10 pm at night! 🌙 I went at 11 pm and there was a queue coming out the front. Luckily it moved quite fast. It’s popular among the locals for some late night noms.
They have a selection of freshly cooked dishes to pair with rice. I opted for a fried chicken leg, which I hear is a must have. I also added on prawn curry and sotong (squid) curry as well as a personal bag of papadom. 🍛
My meal cost RM 22.50. 💸 The fried chicken leg is very small, likely from a free range kampung chicken. I wasn’t too impressed by it. The squid and prawns were decent but nothing special. I prefer the dishes at Nasi Kandar Line Clear. I’m glad I tried this though.
I went to Kheng Pin Café the next morning for some Penang lorbak. 🍢 This is a very famous stall that’s right beside my hotel. It’s run by a friendly husband-and-wife duo. They’re really busy in the mornings – every table I saw had a plate of lorbak.
The lorbak is freshly deep fried before being delivered piping hot to you. I opted for a selection with everything plus century egg for RM 8. 🦆
This the second-best meal I had in Penang this trip, after the Siam Road CKT. The prawn fritters are particularly delicious and I love the ngor hiang too. 🍤 It goes very well with their house chili and lu dipping sauce. 10/10.
92 Armenian Bird’s Nest Delicacy is a café specializing in all things bird’s nest. 🐦 Mandy made a special request to tapau their bird’s nest egg tarts so I walked here after my lorbak breakfast to order some egg tarts.
This café has the best packaging I’ve seen. They lovingly bundle up the 2 egg tarts I ordered into a fine, red box and put that into a high-quality custom paper bag. The egg tarts are attached securely via custom holders and there’s a nook that fits a small vial of bird’s nest beside them. Very impressive. 🍮
The egg tarts are priced at RM 9 each. 🥚 You drizzle the bird’s nest soup over the egg tarts before you eat them. I wouldn’t say they’re very delicious but they’re not bad and the packaging is superb.
Next meal was herbal duck drumstick mee sua. 🍜 My Penang colleague picked me up and we wanted to go to a popular hawker center for lunch but he couldn’t find parking. It was close to our next meeting so I told him we can just eat anywhere there’s parking. It was pretty good – a nice, blander change to my heavily seasoned normal meals.
The next time I could eat was after work commitments, when I popped into a roadside durian stall to indulge in a durian. The durian seller said he only has 1 local durian and the others are from Thailand. 🇹🇭
I was told this is Ang Bak Kia – a local Penang breed. 😋 However, I’m not so sure as the Penang durian season is yet to start. This is likely a Thai durian.
It was RM 22 for this Ang Bak Kia durian. It satisfied by durian craving but I have serious doubts about the provenance of said durian. 🤔
I was in the Air Itam area for work but unfortunately the famous Air Itam Laksa was closed on that day. The local favorite Bisu Laksa @ Air Itam Market was also closing by the time I finished with work so I couldn’t eat there either. 🤫 I ended up patronizing a random CKT shop and had CKT with duck egg. It’s not as good as Siam Road, but sufficient to tide me over till my next trip.
I forced myself to scarf down one last meal before I flew back to KL. It was at a lor mee / prawn mee stall at Air Itam Market. After seeing my hesitation in deciding, the seller suggested mixing the two soup bases together. Big mistake. The unholy marriage tasted quite appalling. I didn’t enjoy it at all. 🤮
Before booking my Grab to the airport, I stopped by a local bakery down the road called Sin Ka Onn. The shop was the perfect place to wait and I’ve heard good things about their store made kaya. 🥥 I also grabbed a half-loaf of soft, pillowy bread to pair with the spread.
I thought that half loaf would be too much for the two of us. Wrong! I only ate two pieces before Mandy inhaled the rest! She really enjoyed it. 🍞