Street Food in Georgetown, Penang

By | September 7, 2012

Street Food in Georgetown, Penang

No city in Malaysia can compare Penang for a head-over-heels friendship to good food. Every Penangite is a healthy foodie, with really strongly-held opinions on where we can get a tastiest char koay teow and that mamak (Indian) case in Georgetown delivers a best value for your ringgit.

Blame Penang’s colonial story for a jumble of flavours; Georgetown’s past as a British trade repository brought together a abounding brew of ethnicities, permitting Indian, Malay, Chinese, Thai, and Arab communities to massage elbows, ambience any other’s food, and come out a richer for it. Trade also non-stop entrance to a mind-boggling accumulation of ingredients, permitting cooks to urge on normal recipes.

Ordering a plate during Gurney Drive, Penang. Pic: Tourism Malaysia.

Ordering a plate during Gurney Drive, Penang. Pic: Tourism Malaysia.

These days, when a review turns to good eats, your normal Penangite will discuss one plcae first: Persiaran Gurney, or Gurney Drive, in Penang’s ancestral Georgetown district. A 1.5 kilometre-long green on Georgetown’s northern end, Gurney Drive is famous for a hawker centre subsequent to a roundabout.

This is an ideal place to start your Penang culinary journey. The place is packaged with dozens of food stalls, any one generally dedicated to a singular dish. Some of these stalls are family affairs, started prolonged ago by an forward forerunner and staffed by a second or third generation. The hawkers are organised around a foodcourt with tables and seats. The fun starts around 6-7pm and continues into a diminutive hours shutting down during 3am (weekdays) or 5am (weekends).

For something reduction chaotic or some-more upscale ramble a length of Gurney expostulate to try a other, classier cafes and restaurants confronting a promenade. But contend you’ve done your approach to Gurney Drive, what Penang food should we try first? Allow us to make a few suggestions.

Char koay teow: the name of this calorific noodle plate translates to “stir-fried rice-cake strips”. To make char koay teow, prosaic rice noodles are soaked with soy sauce, chilli, shrimp paste, shelled cockles, bean sprouts, chopped Chinese chives, egg, pig lard croutons, and whole prawns, afterwards stir-fried in pig fat.

If that sounds heart-clogging, that’s since it is: a high cholesterol and sodium calm of char koay teow does not attraction it to cardiologists, though a normal Penangite laughs in a face of cardiac arrest, if customarily for a consequence of a good assisting served prohibited from a wok.

The dish’s origins distortion among ancestral Georgetown’s coolies, for whom char koay teow was a delicious, affordable and energy-rich meal. Its mixture were easy to come by – a adjacent sea is a abounding source for cockles and shrimp. Its recognition continues in present-day Georgetown, where some-more costly char koay teow come with giant-size prawns and other reward ingredients.

Line Clear Nasi Kandar in Penang. Pic: amrufm / Creative Commons.

Line Clear Nasi Kandar in Penang. Pic: amrufm / Creative Commons.

Nasi kandar: the classic Penang rice plate combines a common pellet tack with assorted Indian-inspired side dishes that tend towards a excess of broth, gravy or curry. The indicate is to drown your rice before eating it, a use famous as “banjir” (flooding).

Nasi kandar takes a name from a days when Indian hawkers would sell rice dishes from a street, temperament their things on rattan baskets dangling from a border (kandar) that sat on a hawker’s shoulders. The menu has softened vastly from days when business ate elementary though robust dishes like curry beef, hardboiled eggs, and okra. Today’s nasi kandar has a significantly softened repertoire with choices that embody boiled chicken, fish roe, squid, and curried spleen.

The best nasi kandar comes from stalls that have been portion a things for generations regulating a same recipe, staffed by cooks directly descended from a ambulant vendors from a aged days.

Gurney Drive Hawker Centre, Penang. Pic: Tourism Malaysia.

Gurney Drive Hawker Centre, Penang. Pic: Tourism Malaysia.

Penang asam laksa: this is a hot, sour, and sharp explosve of a noodle dish! Thick rice noodles are drowned in a thick gas brewed in tamarind H2O with minced fish, onions, turmeric, prawn pulp and chilli, with lemongrass to ambience and Vietnamese coriander on top.

Asam laksa has no pork, creation it a healthier noodle choice. Laksa is customarily served with prawn pulp on a side, and loyal aficionados consider zero of spooning it on liberally, though a smell takes removing used to.

The plate is really open to adaptation, too – travel around and you’ll confront an asam laksa baked in many opposite ways such as Malay-style, Chinese-style, or Thai-style (with coconut divert and lime), among others.

So what’ll it be? Whether we stay on Gurney Drive or ramble deeper into Georgetown to try other food outlets backing a ancestral streets, you’ll find abounding pickings for a foodie dynamic to try Penang’s multi-coloured culinary landscape. Bon appétit!

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