Penang: its street food is legendary and the capital George Town is one of the hottest destinations in Asia, especially for the nightlife.
The island is an exotic tropical piece of earth, located off the north-west Malaysia. It is one of the world capitals of street food, with a melting pot of cuisines from the island’s Chinese, Malay and Indian communities: Hokkien black noodles, succulent giant prawns steamed in rice wine and spicy assam laksa, roti canai dunked in a rich lamb curry and much more.
The island can offer much more to do. The best thing is to hire a car or organize a day trip in the nature to discover the other side of this verdant island, with lush jungle, traditional fishing villages and rural Malay kampongs.
Where to eat in George Town
Street food is everywhere around the island: with stalls cooking 24 hours a day, from breakfast to after-midnight breaks. Seafood is a Penang specialty. There is no other place in the world where such a mix of cultures has contributed their culinary influences one into each other. Chinatown, Little India, hawker stalls and food courts - the multitude of choices for eating in Georgetown is delightfully overwhelming.
The best place to eat for me are the food courts where you can find lots of different food to taste in the same location.
You sit down, take a drink to guarantee you the table and after that, you can go all around and decide what you want to eat taking your time. It can be also convenient to have all the options under one roof.
Just to mentioned the main ones around the city, below a short description of them:
- New World Park: This failed amusement park was given a new life as Georgetown's best food court. Each food counter is clearly labeled with what local dish can be purchased. It is located in the northwest of the city.
- Red Garden: The Red Garden is a little grungier and more hectic but the location is perfect! Here you can find a perfect mix of carts and counters that serve up excellent fare for prices cheaper than those found in restaurants. The Red Garden is an excellent place to find classics food as well as Thai, sushi, and even Filipino food. The Red Garden opens only for dinner at 5:30 pm till 2 am.
- Sri Weld Food Court: This concrete-floored food court is cheap and simple, but the food is excellent. Sri Weld is located on the eastern tip of Georgetown between Lebuh Pantai and Pengkalan Weld
- Cebil Market Food Court: This classic food court is located in the southeast of the city center. The food court is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
I love going around and searching street art when I travel. I like this art because it is the expression of the city soul and young folk; it is something clandestine and wild that become an integral part of the urban landscape.
In Georgetown, the artists integrated elements of the urban environment and other objects in their works in a very playful and funny manner.
Telling something more, in 2010 the state of Penang launched an initiative: they asked to the island artists to create sculptures in wrought iron in the form of cartoons which illustrate the multiculturalism of the region and of the local scenes and life.
Then in 2012 another step was done, in the framework of the Georgetown festival, the Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic asked to create very imaginative murals combining the painting and common objects such as bicycle or telephone booths. This style of street art, light and fun, become the artistic signature of Penang and different artists joined the movement. I passed the day around the city discovering the places where the murals were taking pictures with a guy I met there.
If you want to visit the city from an historical point of you, you can start from the Fort of Cornwallis, which was built in 1800 by Captain Sir Francis Light. He came on the island during a navigation, falling in love with the place. Not far away there is the clock tower built in honor of 60 years of reign of Queen Victoria. Advancing toward the south you can arrive to the characteristic district of Little India. You really feel to be in India, the food, the music, the color, the perfumes; the shops are like the traditional ones and let you to immerse yourself in the Indian atmosphere. In the afternoon, you can visit the Hindu temple of Mahamariamman, the Teochew temple and the mosque of Kapitan Keling, built in 1801. After that, a visit to the old part of the city is necessary. A metal arc is the door to this area that was founded by the first Chinese emigrants: Chinatown.
If you go closer to the sea there are also the old clans headquarters There are different ones for each clan that populated the city. The shops are now abandoned, the houses one after another are of faded pastel color but you can lose hours and hours to run up and down, to discover new untouched corner all around.
The only critical point is the sun that burn so keep with you water and sun-cream for your skin!
After Penang I turn to Kuala Lumpur again, my time in Malysia was finished!