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Eating is Malaysia’s national past time so prepare to enjoy some of the best food experiences. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the best Penang food experiences:
1. Gurney Drive Hawker Center. This seaside promenade should be your number one food stop in Penang. Open only at night and serving food until midnight, Malay, Indian and Chinese hawker stalls are set around an outdoor seating area that’s great for families.
2. Eat nasi lemak. Malaysia’s national dish, this one is particularly popular at breakfast and can be found at nearly every street stall. Tuck into rice boiled in coconut milk and mixed with cucumber slices, fried anchovies, roasted peanuts, a hard-boiled egg and sambal (hot sauce). It’s all served on a banana leaf.
3. Coffee and toast at Toh Soon Cafe. A thick cup of the Hainanese style coffee here is a must. Get it iced and it’s like dessert. The toast is thick and slightly charred from being cooked over a charcoal stove; order it with soft-boiled eggs and dip it into the runny yolk.
4. Drink ais tingkap at Tamil Street. This drink is available only in Penang so don’t miss out. Its name comes from a translation of “window sherbet,” what the British called the drink in the 1930s. Cool and refreshing, ais tingkap is made with basil seeds and gets its red color from rose essence.
5. Try Nyonya food. This is a hybrid of Malay and Chinese cuisine, and so it is uniquely Malaysian. In Penang, there’s been some Thai influence, and so you’ll find hot and sour flavors as well. King prawns fried with tamarind sauce are absolutely delectable.