Penang is a state of Malaysia. We stayed on Penang Island, or Pulau Pinang. There is quite a mix of culture there due to the high level of diversity the country possesses, which in turn presents a wide array of languages, religion, and most importantly, food!
The boyfriend and I stayed mostly in Georgetown, a popular spot for tourists to stay. We stayed at a nice budget hotel called Chulia Heritage Hotel. Our room was small but nice and clean, and the service friendly with fluent English speakers for visitors. The prices for rooms are very low in comparison to our standards here. I also booked our stay through a site called Tingo, which lowers the price of hotels and hostels if other sites do the same. I ended up getting about 37 USD refunded in my bank account after returning from our trip. For a six day stay, I paid 160 USD total. All in all we got quite a deal on our lodging!
The main reason why I picked Penang was because of the food. Watching numerous youtube videos on the variety of cheap street food and hawker stalls, I knew it needed to be checked out. The major ethnic groups on the island are Malay, Chinese, and Indian. The food was great and interesting because of the melding of different cultures, but you can also find traditional dishes from each individual country as well.
The Penang Laksa is known for being one of the dishes that brought fame to the Malaysian food world. One of my favorite dishes, definitely. Tender noodles, great veggies and the fish based broth was spicy and sour. It was a very flavorful dish, with a lot going on. It came with a dark sauce that looked like hoisin, and it was sweet. The boyfriend added it to his and I didn’t to mine. I was surprised at how beautifully the sauce blended with his soup. It wasn’t overly sweet and added a lot of depth to the dish. I liked my version just a tiny bit better, because it was lighter and more strong with the tangy and spicy notes.
Two bowls of the laksa with two sodas totaled 14 ringgit, which is 4.36 usd.
We didn’t know what we stumbled upon when we came to this little spot. Lots of places you eat at on the street will have several different food karts in one space for you to choose from. A server will walk around and get you drinks that you pay for, then you choose which stall to go to for your food. We chose basically a Chinese buffet, but it was so much better than any I’ve been to here in the States. Given a plate of rice, you can choose from a large assortment of dishes from chafers. The boyfriend and I loved everything we piled on our plates. It was one of our favorite meals of the trip.
My plate was 5.50 ringgit, so 1.71 usd.
I am aware that I’m not a professional photographer. Thank you.
Something that I notice when I’m in Asia is the difference with working generations. Here in the States, it’s a life goal to retire in your 50’s or 60’s. In Asia, I feel that people work much longer lengths of their lives, and harder. Respect.
Nasi Lemak was also one of my favorite foods. Thanks to a co-worker of mine, I learned that the term means “fat rice” because it’s cooked in coconut milk. It’s served wrapped in banana leaf, brown paper or newspaper.
Fish with spicy sauce, dried anchovies and boiled egg.
An oyster omelette, with spring onions and typically served with a side of sweet and sour chili sauce. I’ve never been a fan of omelettes but I had to try it because I love oysters. I ended up just picking those out because they were very good, and the rest of the omelette was too greasy for me. But I also got it as take away so I may have liked it better on the spot?
We were looking for a seafood spot because it’s so fresh in Penang! We came across a Chinese restaurant. The service was a bit awkward, with the servers taking turns standing behind you and watching you eat. I think they do that in case a customer needs anything, and it was creepy, not gonna lie. Just a difference between cultures. However, the food was great. My oysters were good and the hotpot was delicious. The prawn were big and fresh tasting and the sauce was light and milky with coconut but not thick. There were fantastic whole chilies in there and the oiliness was great. It was a fantastic mix of spicy and sweet. I ate it with steamed rice.
We came across the Red Garden when we left the seafood restaurant. It was across the street and we saw a large parking lot that was full and a bright neon sign. I’m saddened that this is the only picture I have, because I mostly took shaky videos of the place. The boyfriend and I didn’t know what to expect, and it was quite a surprise. When you walk inside, you see a massive space with food stalls lining all the walls of the area, with so much variety! Malaysian, Thai, Chinese, Korean, and western food spots were seen. Tables fill the entire space in the center, and those surround a tall stage with singers belting out songs with music blaring behind them. It was amazing. It was energetic, and fun. I regret that we didn’t spend that much time there. It’s one of the spots I want to return to right away when I go back to Penang, and I will go back.