Woke up early for our official food tour of Penang! Tom found a small group food tour on Viator.com, and we arrived 15 minutes early to find we would be the only people on the tour! Juni, our guide, was ready to show us the best dishes of Penang plus a few cultural gems along the way.
Starting from the Soho Freehouse on 50 Penang Street, we past a trishaw or beca station on our way to our first destination.
We started out with breakfast of Nasilemak (rice cooked in coconut milk with sauces and dried shrimp and a hard boiled egg) and pork encased in bean curd casing, fried, with shrimp filled tofu and fried shrimp dumplings.
We walked down a street to one of the “wet markets” where fruits, vegetables and meats are sold. Some clothing and nick knack stores were dotted in between, but the real stars were the food, whether in their natural form and on a grill.
Our next stop was down a short alley with a bunch of food hawkers. Juni found us a table under a fan, then went to order a few key dishes. We had our first taste of nutmeg juice, which is the main ingredient in Coka Cola. It tasted like Cherry Coke without the carbonation.
The food keeps getting better and better! Char Koay Kak is rice cake chopped into small bites, fried, then fried again to order. The smaller the pieces, the more flavorful the dish because it soaks up the oil and seasonings.
Also, Singapore Laksa, a spicy, rice noodle soup with chicken and shrimp. It went well with the nutmeg juice!
After our second meal, we walked the streets of Penang looking at the different shophouses around the “5th Avenue” of Penang, plus stopped inside a Chinese Pharmacy where the owner was measuring out ingredients.
On Campbell Street Station, beautiful shophouses, cafes, and street art where around every corner.
Our third stop was at a famous Indian Restaurant, Hameediyah! an Indian Muslim restaurant well over 100 years old. We had the Nasi Kondar which consists of rice with assorted sauces, chicken and mutton.
Murtabak is a pan fried crepe stuffed with curry chicken, onions, potatoes and served with pickled red onions and curry sauce.
Our last stop on the tour was at a small cafe. We were both pretty full by now, but the last course was what Tom had been waiting for, and the reason why we came to Penang; Asam Laksa.
Asam Laksa is a dish made with mackerel stock, turmeric, tamarind and red chilies and noodles. It’s garnished with cucumber, onions, water spinach, Malay mint, pineapple and ginger flower blossoms.
Our last dish of the tour was the local dessert called Cendol. This consists of noodles, red beans and coconut ice. After the spicy Asam Laksa, and the heat of the day, Cendol was a refreshingly cool treat!
We recommend this tour for anyone coming to Penang. The food was outstanding, and Juni our guide was very knowledgeable and able to hit all the highlights on this 3 hour tour. For more info, visit Viator.com and check out A Taste of Penang: Small Group Tour.