Penang Hawker Food lists out all the famous hawker food in Penang, and provides suggestions of where you can go to enjoy them. If you love Penang hawker food, you have come to the right place.
Name of Hawker Food
Penang is such a food paradise, it would be a great shame to let language stand between you and enjoying all our hawker delights. For the benefit of visitors and tourists who are not familiar with Penang Hokkien and Malay, every food item now includes audio-on-demand voice output. You can click on the audio to listen to how each food item is called.
Ordering Food in Penang
To help you order, try out and enjoy the various food items listed below, I have included the audio output for placing the minimum order. You can either learn how to say it, and repeat it to the hawker, or if that is still too daunting, bring along a smart phone or tablet, and playback the audio to the hawker. Translation is also provided in brackets so that you know what you are ordering.
Penang Hawker Food Video Guide
Instead of reading, try listening! Penang Travel Tips provides an alternative to listen to this article, so that you can put on your headset and sit back to receive the information without reading.
Indian paper-flake pancake. Also known simply as Apong in Hokkien.
Apom is usually sold by Indian hawkers by value, presently around RM2 for four pieces. To order, say this: Apom dua ringgit. (Apom two ringgit.)
A3pom3 Ba3lik1 [a-pom-ba-lek]
Nyonya foldover pancake.
As with apom, the apom balek is also sold by Chinese hawkers by value, presently around RM2 for 4-5 pieces. To order, say this: A3pom3 ba3lek1 nor3 khor1. (Apom balek two ringgit.)
Chee1 Cheong3 Fun2 [tsi-tsiɔŋ-fan]
Steamed flat rice noodle rolls in hae ko (shrimp paste sauce) and huan cheo chiau (chili sauce). Penang version differs from Chee Cheong Fun available elsewhere in the country.
To order, say this: Chee1cheong3fun2 nor3 tiau2. (One rolls of chee cheong fun.)
Kay3 Pnui3 [ke-puĩ]
Meal of Hainanese origin of rice cooked in chicken stock, and served with roasted or steamed chicken, or both, on a bed of cucumbers, some times accompanied by beansprouts, spring onions or parsley.
To order, say this: Kay3pnui3 cit3 pnua2. (One plate of chicken rice.)
Sah1 Po1 Kay3 Pnui3 [sa-po-ke-puĩ]
Popular hawker dish of chicken and rice cooked in a claypot with Chinese sausages and dried salted fish.
To order, say this: Sah1po1 Kay3pnui3 cit3 pnua2. (One plate of claypot chicken rice.)
Ka3li1 Mee3 [ka-li-mi]
Spicy soup of egg noodles and rice noodles with various ingredients.
To order, say this: Curry Mee cit3 wna4. (One bowl of curry mee.)
If you want to withold any of these ingredients from your curry mee, say this: no chilli , no prawns , no cockles , no bean sprouts , no coagulated blood , no soyabean puffs , no cuttlefish , no mint leaves .
Go3reng3 Pi3sang1 [gɔ-rɛŋ-pi-saŋ]
Deep-fried banana fritters.
The banana fritters are usually sold by a pack by Malay orders, and by individual pieces by Chinese hawkers. To order, say this to a Malay hawker: Pisang goreng satu bungkus. (One packet of banana fritters.) Or say this to a Chinese hawker: Go3reng3 pi3sang1 cit3 leh2. (One banana fritter).
Har1 Mee3 [ha-mi]
Similar to Hokkien Mee, spicy noodle in prawn-based soup, often with the inclusion of spare ribs.
To order, say this: Har1 Mee3 cit3 wna4. (One bowl of Har Mee.)
To withhold chilli, say this: mai1 huan3cio1
Hok1kien3 Mee3 [hɔk-kiɛn-mi]
Noodle in spicy prawn-based soup topped with fried onion and kangkung (water spinach).
To order, say this: Hokkien Mee3 cit3 wna4. (One bowl of Hokkien Mee.)
To withhold chilli, say this: mai1 huan3cio1
Ja1wa3 Mee3 [dza-ua-mi]
Egg noodle in potato-based tomato gravy, topped with sliced boiled eggs, prawns, beancurd, fritters, a sprinkling of toasted grounded peanuts and chilli paste.
To order, say this: Jawa Mee3 cit3 pnua2. (One plate of Jawa Mee.)
Fish-based spicy rice noodle soup. Penang version, known elsewhere as Penang laksa, differs greatly from laksa available elsewhere in the country - almost every state has its own version.
To order, say this: Lak1sa4 cit3 wna4. (One bowl of Laksa.)
To withhold chilli, say this: mai1 huan3cio1
Loh1 Bak3 [lɔ-baʔ]
Mixed dish of deep-fried titbits that may include Lor Bak (meat rolls), boiled egg, taukua (beancurd), tauhoo (tofu), prawn fritters, octopus, ikan pari (ray) and sausage.
Ordering Lor Bak requires you to point to the item you want, and it will be deepfried for you. So point to one item and say this: Hor3 wah4 cit1leh1. (Give me this). For the next item, point to it and say: cit1leh1. ( ... and this)
Loh1 Mee3 [lɔ-mi]
Egg noodles and rice noodles in dark starchy broth, with chicken meat, julienne shittake mushroom, chicken feet, and garnished with minced garlic sauce.
To order, say this: Loh1 Mee3 cit3 wna4. (One bowl of Lor Mee.)
Mee3 Go1reng4 [mi-gɔ-rɛŋ]
Indian fried noodle with fritters, beancurd, egg, prawn, squid, and a dash of lemon.
Mee goreng is usually sold by Indian Muslim hawkers. To order, say this: Mee goreng satu. (One mee goreng.)
Mee3 Re1bus4 [mi-rə-bus]
Indian cooked noodle with fritters, beancurd, egg, prawn, squid, and a dash of lemon.
Mee rebus is also usually sold by Indian Muslim hawkers. To order, say this: Mee rebus satu. (One mee rebus.)
Na1si1 Kan1dar4 [na-si-kan-dar]
Meal of Indian Muslim origin of rice served with a variety of self-selected dishes.
To order nasi kandar, first request for the rice, then point to the dishes you want. Start by saying this: Nasi satu pinggan. (One plate of rice please). Then point to the items you want and say: dengan ini. ( ... with this). Continue the "dengan ini" for the next item. The seller will then drench your rice with various gravy. If you want less gravy, say "kuah sikit" . If you want it well drenched, say "basah" .
Na1si1 To3ma1to4 [na-si-to-ma-to]
A Malay-style meal of rice cooked in tomato paste and served with a selection of dishes.
Nasi tomato is usually sold by set, which includes a piece of chicken. To order, say this: Nasi tomato satu set. (One set of nasi tomato).
Nyo3nya3 Kuih4 [ŋɔ-ŋa-koe]
A colourful array of local cookies.
Buying Nyonya Kuih requires you to point to the item you want, and it will be packed up for you. So point to one item and say this: Hor3 wah4 cit1leh1. (Give me this). Continue by pointing to the next item and say: kah1 cit1leh1. ( ... and this)
Pan2 Mee3 [pan-mi]
Flour-based noodle, served either dry and in soup.
To order the dry pan mee, say this: Ta1-eh3 pan2 mee3 cit3 pnua2. (One plate of dry pan mee.) To order the soup pan mee, say this: Tam2-eh3 pan2 mee3 cit3 wna4. (One bowl of wet pan mee.)
Fried titbits and shreded vegetable salad in sweet-and-spicy sauce.
Pasembur is sold by both Indian Muslim and Chinese vendors. To order from the Indian Muslim vendor, say this: pasembur satu. (One pasembur). To order from the Chinese vendor, say this: Chnae3hu2 cit3 pnua2. (One plate of pasembur).
To withhold chilli, say this: "kurang pedas" to the Indian Muslim hawker and "mai1 huan3cio1" to the Chinese hawker.
Teochew-style springroll with a filling comprising turnip, beancurd, egg bits and a dash of chilli paste and sweet sauce.
Popiah is sold by rolls, with minimum order usually being two rolls. To order, say this: Po3piah4 nor3 kap3. (Two rolls of popiah.) If you want the vendor not to put any chilli sauce, say mai1 huan3cio1.
Pu3tu3 Ca1wan4 [pu-tu-tsa-uan]
Indian-style steamed rice cupcakes.
Puthu cawan is usually sold by packs of two or three pieces. To order, say this: Putu cawan satu bungkus. (One packet of puthu cawan).
Pu3tu3 Pi3ring1 [pu-tu-pi-riŋ]
Indian-style steamed rice cakes with filling of brown sugar. It is usually sold by packs of one to three pieces. To order, say this: Putu Piring satu bungkus. (One pack of putu piring).
Sio3 Ark1 Pnui33
Chinese rice meal of rice with roasted duck, usually served with a salted vegetable soup (kiam3 chye1 boey4 ). To the hawker, say: Sio3 Ark1 pnui33 cit3 pnua2. (One plate of roasted duck rice).
Mixed fruit salad in prawn-paste sauce sold by Chinese, Malay and Indian Muslim hawkers. To Chinese hawker, say: Ro1jak1 cit3 leh2. (One rojak) and to the Malay or Indian Muslim hawkers, say: Rojak satu. (One rojak). To withhold chilli, say "mai1 huan3cio1" to the Chinese hawker and "kurang pedas" to the Malay or Indian Muslim hawker.
Ro3ti3 Ba3bi1 [ro-ti-ba-bi]
Chinese-style deepfried stuffed bread. Note that the Chinese often slur the "r" of "roti" to make it sound like "l".
To order, say this: ro3ti3 ba3bi1 cit3pnua2. . (One plate of roti babi.)
Malaysian-style kebab. Satay is sold by Chinese as well as Malay hawkers. Minimum order of satay is usually ten sticks. To order from the Chinese hawker, say this: Sa1tay4 cap3 chiam4. (Ten sticks of satay). From the Malay hawker, say this: Satay sepuluh. (Ten sticks of satay).
Wan3 Than1 Mee3 [uan-than-mi]
Egg noodle dish with wonton (Chinese ravioli), barbecued pork and vegetable. Available in dry form and in soup. To order the dry version, say this: Ta1-eh3 Wan3 Than1 Mee3 cit3 pnua2. (One plate of dry Wan Than Mee.) To order the wet version, say this: Tam2-eh3 Wan3 Than1 Mee3 cit3 wna4. (One bowl of wet Wan Than Mee.)
Yong3 Tau3 Foo3 [joŋ-tau-fu]
Hakka-style stuffed beancurd and other selected items in a soup. To order, select the items you want the hawker to cook and pass the bowl to him/her.Details
Jelutong Market Lor Mee, in my opinion the best in Penang (1 September, 2012)
The Background on Penang Hawker Food
Most of Penang's hawker food have their origin as food for blue collar workers in the 19th and early 20th century. The coolies working in the harbor, the ricksaw peddlars, and others engaged in heavy labor required food that give them energy at a low cost. As is the usual case, necessity was the mother of invention, and through such a need came Penang street food such as the Char Koay Teow, Curry Mee and Hokkien Mee, three dishes that originated in Penang. Indeed, there is no equivalent to the curry mee and Hokkien mee elsewhere in Malaysia, which has their own variation of street food, often holding the same name as in Penang, but looking very different from the Penang version.
The Penang Food Directory attempts to put a face to all the street food that is available in Penang. Having listed the foods, we then advise where to find them. Read also the other page on Penang Food in this website.
How to use the Penang Food Directory
If you are living in Penang, or you've just arrived in Penang, and you're looking for a specific Penang food item, the first thing you do is to scroll down to that item. For example, scroll to Char Koay Teow. Click to enter. On the Char Koay Teow page, you are given a broad list of coffee shops where it is sold. Every food item is illustrated with a location map which you can zoom in-and-out and scroll about, so you never have to think hard to find the location. Select one which is most convenient for you, according to where you are staying, or when it is sold. Alternatively, look at the number of votes each stall receive, and visit the one with high scores. Easy, isn't it? Good luck on your gourmet journey!
Related Pages on Penang Food
This is just one of many pages on food in Penang. For more, see the list below:
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