Penang is known for street art so on a walk around the city, we were all on the look out for artwork. There are some really beautiful pieces to find. You’d really need to set aside a day to see them all, so unfortunately I only got pictures of a few.
Our first stop was a coffee shop for a smokey char kwey teow stall where they cook the noodles in a wok over hot charcoal. For dessert we shared a rojak buah. Any fruit seems to go into this dish. They also add gula mulaka (palm sugar), salt, plum and top it with crunchy crushed peanuts.
The warm weather always called for cendol or chendul (you see it spelt both ways) and after waiting in line, the best way to eat this icy treat is while you’re stood beside the cart.
An adventurous ride
Penang is a great spot for street food, and I was excited to read about a few vegetarian restaurants in the area. I took a street map to the hotel reception desk to ask if they could point out the location of three eateries I wanted to check out. The concierge said all of the places were Chinese and he asked if I liked Indian food. Well of course I do! He said “Come with me” and led me out the back to the car park. There he strapped a very lose helmet to my head and kick started his motorbike. This was turning out to be far more adventurous than I’d anticipated!
I tentatively climbed aboard and tried to appear cool as the bike took off. “Don’t go too fast!” I nervously laughed, only I was not joking. As I clung to his waist we weaved in and out of traffic, down side streets and along dark narrow alleys. I wondered where the heck he was taking me. After about 10 minutes he stopped the bike out the front of Sri Ananda Bahwan, an Indian vegetarian restaurant in George Town. He said “Here is where you need to eat”. I thanked my unexpected food guide and he motored away into the darkness.
Bays of take away food sat by the doorway and the remainder of the restaurant was filled with tables for diners. As a vegetarian you get used to not having many options so the long all veg menu made it tough to choose. Thanks to the advice from the friendly waiter, I ordered the ‘chicken’ tikka masala, spicy biryani and a cheese naan and a fresh pineapple juice. It was an incredible (and very filling) meal – perhaps the best Indian I’ve had – and it only cost AUD$7.
After dinner I took a long lazy walk through Little India and up popular Chulia Street to get a feel for the city at night.
The local market
At busy Bazaar Chowrasta market, we saw loads of fresh produce. We sampled poh piah with peanuts and tried nutmeg juice as Penang is known for growing nutmeg.
I really liked the creamy curry mee dish. The broth is made with coconut milk and served with bean sprouts, tofu and vermicelli and hokkien mee noodles. The ‘economy’ bee hoon is a cheap and tasty noodle dish with crispy tofu strips and two types of chilli sauce.
There’s a great (and very cheap) dessert stall at the market where they serve different flavours every day. We enjoyed bowls of bean curd with barley (good for complexion) and mung beans with sago and coconut.
My last dinner in Penang was at Luk Yea Yan vegetarian restaurant. I had a brilliant Assam Laksa, veg satay sticks and a lemon iced tea. The restaurant also sells some vegetarian grocery items which must give locals an extra reason to visit.
The food in Penang was GREAT – I just wish I had more time to try local dishes. I’d love to check out more of the vegetarian restaurants and see all the street art!
Up next: I spend a few days relaxing in Batu Ferringhi.
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