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Hungry in Penang?

I wouldn’t, like some I know, travel hundreds of km just to eat a famous dish for lunch. However, I do like to eat what’s available and tasty, so I love going to Penang. We’ve been there many times over the years, with and without kids in tow and there are some places we just keep returning to. Gurney Drive in the evenings, for the great variety of Penang and generally Malaysian, specialties is a favourite. Batu Feringgi has a number of great hawker centres and we visit these if we stay at the beach or drive up. The assam laksa at Ayer Itam market is one of the best we’ve eaten. The best way to find it is catch the bus from Komtar and get off near the market. Walk round the corner and it’s right there. After you’ve had your fill, you’ll have energy for the walk up to Kek Lok Si temple just nearby.

On our most recent trip earlier in October, we had time to wander the streets admiring the restored buildings and identifying places to eat. The nyonya restaurant on Jln Pantai caught our collective eye and we headed back there for lunch. The Inche Kabin was excellent and the kangkong belacan would be hard to fault. Matched with stewed pork leg, which was not bad, though we were comparing it with what grandma used to make and a pretty decent tripe soup, out meal was eaten with rice. We washed everything down with nutmeg drink which is definitely worth going back for. The other stand out was the most excellent pastry shop Ming Xiang Tai, we found along Armenian Street, a branch of the main shop on Burma Rd. The pastries don’t come cheap, but they are excellent and we went back for boxes to take home before we left. The fillings are all fresh and they have savoury and sweet. Pineapple is always a favourite and this one was just right, not sickly sweet but my favourite was the coconut pastry. They have bite sizes and larger ones, all made on the premises, though I think the staff get a bit fed up with having their photos taken.

There are two chendol stalls along Lebuh Keng Kwee, just off Penang Road, south of the Police station. As you go in the one on the left is reputedly the one favoured by locals, though the tourists usually go to the one opposite. We went with the locals and weren’t disappointed. Our ‘green worms’ were just the right consistency and the santan and gula melaka were in just the right proportions. There are so many great places to eat in Penang and a short note like this can’t do justice to even a few of the many we’ve tried over the years. We’re happy to use any excuse for a quick trip to wander about, seeing how the city is changing so quickly now the buildings are being restored and finding new places to eat each time we go. Long may it continue.

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