5 Hidden Places in Penang Only Locals Know
posted at: 13-07-2019 | author: foodcrush
Penang is well known for its extensive choices of highly tantalising food, where many have travelled far and wide just to have a taste of some of the famous local cuisine and street food. Countless food reviews and blogs were written about famous joints such as Siam Road Char Koay Teow or Penang Road Chendol, but have you ever wondered what do the local Penangites fancy that might be lesser known to others? Fret not! They are awaiting around the corner for the avid and inquisitive foodies. Here are the 5 picks of hidden gems, so let’s dive in!
1) Asam Laksa – Qi Yen Kopitiam
Ranked No.7 on CNN World’s Best Food in 2018, this is definitely the signature dish highly sought-after in Penang. For those working or staying in Bayan Lepas area, you would probably be familiar with Qi Yen coffee shop at Desa Ria, Sungai Ara. Shying away from major tourist spots, it is usually patronized only by the locals.
Asam Laksa may look the same everywhere but not all Laksa is created equal! This statement holds true for Asam Laksa at Qi Yen Kopitiam. Try out it’s thick and spicy broth which differs from the usual Penang Asam Laksa that is predominantly sweeter. This particular one is well balanced and not too sweet. You should not treat the chopped vegetables as merely garnish. Mix them well together in the broth and it will exude a distinctly nice aroma. We recommend to only eat it with a Chinese spoon and make sure you have every spoonful filled up adequately with noodles, condiments and broth to savour it all！！
@ J K
2) Laksa in Balik Pulau – Kim Seng Kopitiam
Still craving for more Laksa? This rather new coffee shop named Kim Seng is situated at Air Putih, Balik Pulau. Once situated near the Balik Pulau main road, it is being relocated much to the delight of the locals fearing its permanent closure. The original stall was closed down some time ago and reopened in 2016 at this new shop lot. It could be a little far from Balik Pulau town itself but it is definitely worth a trip to have a few bowls of laksa here. Kim Seng Kopitiam (Coffee Shop) offers two types of Laksa; Asam Laksa and Siamese Laksa. The Asam Laksa is the real deal, punching your nostrils with its strong aroma and regarded as the authentic taste of old Penang, where the broth is not very thick yet robust in flavour. A perfect balance of savoury, sweet and sour taste with just the right amount of spiciness well intended to the standard of Penangites. The Siamese laksa is also a must try and it is good for those who prefer a sweeter taste. The fragrance of coconut milk infused into the broth will linger on in your palette. It is just as rich and flavourful so be sure to try out both types of the Laksa. As they say, one bowl is never enough when you are in Penang.
@ Kean Hong Leong
@ Alfred Ko
3) Brown Sugar Pao, Balik Pulau
The name itself is unique and unconventional, enough so to drive one’s curiosity in search of it. The brown sugar pao is popular among the locals in Balik Pulau. You can find it at a food truck near the old Balik Pulau Market in the afternoon operating around 2.30pm. While the truck offers many types of traditional Chinese baozi, the brown sugar pao is one of a kind. The pao is soft and fluffy without leaving a mushy and sticky texture in your mouth even with its generous amount of brown sugar fillings inside. You will notice a layer of melted brown sugar on top of the bun. Take a bite and you will instantly taste the caramelized sweetness that is natural and not overly sweet. This pao is ideally eaten as a snack or dessert. Wouldn’t it beckon you to sink your teeth into one?
4) Genting Café Chee Cheong Fun
Penang style chee cheong fun is always perceived to pale in comparison with the likes of Laksa or Char Kuey Teow. This is partly due to its simplicity of a dish. However, this outlet will challenge the status quo and redeem its rightful claim to the list of must-eat. Unlike those you find in central Malaysia, the Penang chee cheong fun comes with dark sweet sauce and chili paste. The Genting Café chee cheong fun is very popular among the locals. A beeline is commonly seen with patrons making their ways to place an order. So what makes it so special? First of all, the chee cheong fun itself is very springy and soft. It has a chewy texture that is fun with every bite. The sweet sauce is thick and sweet, with a glaringly rich and bold flavour that is not easily dismissed. The secret in landing its thick texture and complex flavour lies in the presence of shrimp paste used in making the sauce. The chili paste is made from ground chilis and dried shrimp. Finally, sesame seeds are added to enhance the texture and taste. For your ultimate eating pleasure, please mix the sauces well!
@ Daniel W
5) Authentic Porridge Stall, Hutton Lane
If you ask most Penangites where is the best Teochew porridge in town, and the answer you will get is most likely Tai Buan at Muntri Street. So even to most Penangites, this stall could be unheard of, such is the rarity of this well-hidden gem. This stall really hides itself well away from plain sight. It sits just right next to New Savoy Hotel, Hutton Lane. Unlike Tai Buan, there are more types of dishes to choose from. As the options are pretty long, we will stick to some old school dishes
that are pretty hard to find these days. As we are having plain Teochew porridge here so you will need something strong to add flavour to your bowl of plain porridge. The shallots with dried shrimps is a good example of “flavour enhancer” for your porridge. It is sour and savoury, from the presence of lime juice used and also a tinge of umami from the shrimps. You can have this alone with your porridge with no problem at all as it stands strong on its own. The fried tiny anchovies are lightly salted and goes well with the porridge as well. All other standard dishes such as braised pork and buicai (a type of pickled vegetable) are pretty good too. If you are searching for the old school flavour, be sure to come here.
@ C Lee
@ C Lee