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5 best places for hawker food in Penang

Food carts are a fixture throughout Malaysia, a part of the food culture celebrated here and renowned all over the world. If Malaysia is the food cart capital of the world, then Penang is the hawker food capital of Malaysia. Skyscanner has picked out 5 places with Penang hawker food that you must try! So, be sure to grab a snack or meal from at least one of these local culinary treasures the next time you visit.

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1. Pasar Air Itam Laksa

Complex, spicy mackerel soup with rice noodles, shrimp paste, onion, mint and lemongrass. The bowl of assam laksa you get at this stall is memorably sour and undeniably refreshing. This is not a “best-kept secret” but a hugely popular stall so don’t be shocked if you see a queue for this bowl of poached, flaked fishy goodness.

Where: Jalan Pasar

Asam Laksa is an iconic Malaysia fish stew
It’s the contrast of the assam and prawn paste that makes assam laksa so compelling. Photo copyright: winterduel / Flickr

2. Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul

Although many varieties of Malaysian hawker food are spins on cuisine from other parts of the world, cendol (also known as chendul or chendol) is pure Malaysian. The Tan family’s cendol is from a 50-year-old recipe and you can enjoy it as a fine dessert or as a cooling break from the heat.

Where: 27 & 29 Lebuh Keng Kwee

A close of the green jellies and red beans in an icy bowl of chendul
Dig into a bowl of rich and refreshing chendul on a hot day. Photo copyright: jeremee89 / Flickr

3. Pitt Street Koay Teow Th’ng

Most hawker stalls making this fish ball soup use manufactured, frozen balls that are fine but nothing special. The owners here hand-make their fish balls from locally caught eel making for a better texture and a sweeter taste. The dish comes with boiled pork slices and lettuce garnish and you can opt for either dry or soup version.

Where: 183 Lebuh Carnarvon

Several bowls of fish ball soup.
Fresh fish balls make the difference in this dish and pairs perfectly with their homemade chilli. Photo copyright: jeremee89 / Flickr

4. Siam Road Charcoal Char Koay Teow

Flat rice noodles and fresh ingredients fried to order makes up the only dish offered at this makeshift food stall. You join the queue (there’s always a queue), place your order and we suggest you wait at the Chinese coffee shop opposite the stall. Order a cup of coffee to sip on as you wait for your plate of aromatic, spicy, noodly goodness to be fried. There’s nothing new or different about this basic dish except its extraordinary quality.

Where: Jalan Siam

A plate of Koay Teow noodles.
Stir-fried rice noodles, served hot and aromatic. Photo copyright: Raymond Yk Choong / Flickr

5. Teluk Kumbar Satay

A tiny but famous satay stand run by a purist, Teluk Kumbar Satay only offers chicken satay and it comes without the standard peanut chilli sauce. Order a few sticks to really enjoy the marinade and texture that sauces can sometimes mask. Feel free to sit in the seafood restaurant next door and enjoy the satay as an appetizer. Everybody does that.

Where: Teluk Kumbar, next to Teluk Kumbar Seafood

Sticks of chicken satay being grilled.
Chicken satay: a regional favorite. Photo copyright: Melanie Maya/ Flickr

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