Penang: 5 Must-Orders @ a Hawker Centre

If you ever have a Penangite friend, I’m sure you are always bombarded with endless refrains of how good their hawker dishes are in Penang. Alas, annoying as they may be, they are mostly right.

Last night, thanks to our friends at Eaglesnest Ministry, my church small group mates and I were taken to the really happening Viva Food Court, located just a stone’s throw away from their Oasis Ministry base (and directly opposite Hotel Sentral Seaview) along the north-east coastline of Penang Island.

So, when in Penang, Malaysia – here are the 5 Must-Orders from a Penang hawker centre recommended by our Penangnite pals:

Penang Asam Laksa

Spicy and sour, with a heavy dose of tamarind, sliced red chili and a spoonful of thick prawn paste for further flavouring and you have your classic bowl of Penang laksa which every Penangite swear that the best version can only be found in, er, Penang. Served piping hot with garnishes like onion, cucumber and mint leaves, you can’t really say you’ve been to Penang if you didn’t try this…

Char Koay Teow
This is another local dish you must try. Known as Char Kway Teow in Singapore, the Penang version uses thinner flat white noodles, less dark sweet sauce and has a more savoury favour. Add in prawns, egg, bean sprouts and a dash of peanuts all stir-fried in a very hot wok and you have a truly satisfying dish to savour.

Belacan Chicken

Belacan is fermented shrimp paste which is often mixed with sambal to make a really lovely spicy chilli paste that goes well with everything! Belacan chicken is deep fried chicken marinated with Belacan and various garnishes, and let me tell you, whether it’s wing, thigh or drumstick, the meat is super soft, crispy and delicious to chew and munch on. Yum to the max!

Oyster Omelette

Arguably one of the best Oyster Omelettes (or orh luak) I’d ever eaten – the ones in Singapore are usually too oily and bland. Crispy bits aplenty and fresh fleshy baby oysters too. Not often on the top of Penang food lists but should not be missed either.

Lor Bak

What we call Orh Hiang in Singapore or Chinese Five-Spice Pork Rolls (which are covered by the cucumbers in this photo, sorry!) You choose the items you want – as in this dish which are orh hiang, tofu and prawn fritters – and they will be deep-fried and you eat them with the sauces given. Good for sharing.

All dishes are priced decently between MYR6 (laksa) to MYR28 (Belacan chicken, depending on parts ordered). Most of the best hawkers are supposedly in Georgetown – in and around Chulia Street for instance – so I cant wait to try the hawker stalls there.

Thing to note: Penang hawkers do not open all day. Some only open for breakfast, some lunch and others only dinner such as Viva Food Court. Otherwise, Happy Hawker Hunting in Penang!

All photos by Marguerita Tan. No text or images from this post are to be used without the blog author’s authorisation.


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