Penang is widely considered to be the food capital of Malaysia, and Georgetown is the best place in Penang to eat. Penang offers plenty of delicious and cheap Malaysian food but is famed throughout the rest of the country for some specialities, such as "char koay teow," stir-fried flat rice noodles, tossed with bean sprouts, cockles and anything else the chef has handy; Penang "laksa," a noodle soup that comes with sour tamarind-flavored broth with pureed fish, fruits, vegetables and a generous helping of chili mixed in; and "nasi kandar," white rice with anything else that you want with it! It is usually served with fried chicken, fried fish, prawns, squid, hardboiled eggs, various vegetables and a curry, which is poured onto the rice.
There are two other things to try. Penang's durian fruit is unique in the world. The best way to eat it is at the stall, where they open it for you and you pay for what you eat. "Teh tarik" (literally, "pulled tea") is a tea-with-milk drink that is poured into the serving cup from a pot that is moved from near the cup to a considerable height above it. Gurney Drive may be the main location where tourists go to eat, but most locals consider it overrated and expensive.
Several restaurants stand out. Tai Tong
, at 45 Lebuh Cintra, offers inexpensive dim sum breakfasts from 6 a.m. to noon, served in the traditional way on carts wheeled amongst the tables. No Eyed Deer Restaurant is a favorite haunt among the locals and expatriates living in Penang. It is famous for its Laotian laksa and chicken parmigiana, and it serves one of the best steaks on the island. It is located above the 7-Eleven in the Prima Tanjung complex. Spice and Rice, at 1 Green Hall, has wonderful Indian cuisine in a friendly restaurant with live jazz on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. The prices are higher than some places, but it's worth it for the ambience and the live music. The renovated 19th-century building itself is quite impressive.
Out at Batu Ferringhi
, there is less choice. For families, or those who just want to get out of the resort, you can't go past the hawker centers and fresh fruit stalls on the side of the road. Stick with the Asian cuisines, however, as the attempts at Western food are not worth eating. The Gerai Makanan hawker center, near the Golden Sands Resort Hotel
, has a dozen or so food and drink stalls that include Indian, Chinese and Malay cuisines, as well as seafood and reasonably priced beer. There is one recommended restaurant here. Ferringhi Garden, just south of the Parkroyal Plaza
, is a little pricey, but it has a wonderful atmosphere and a wide-ranging menu.
253G-1-1 Jalan Burma
Queensbay Mall 1f-78 Persiaran Bayan Indah
10 Lebuh Farquhar
Eastern & Oriental Hotel (E&O)
48F Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah
2 Brown Road
Opposite Berjaya Hotel
Tingkat 1, Wisma Pelaut (Mariners Centre)
1-A, Lebuh Light
25A Farquhar Street
1 Lebuhraya Babington
Temple of Fine Arts
68 Jalan Kelawai
32 Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah