For my birthday this year, I have decided to go to a country that I hold dear to my heart, Malaysia. Not in KL this time but in an island called Penang. This place has always been in my list of places to go since the travel bug bit me. I have seen photos online of the island’s wide array of street art and its rich and diverse cultural history.
Let’s not also forget, their street food. Penang’s street food has been hailed as one of the best in the world after Bangkok. As a foodie, this was an opportunity that I cannot miss and made sure that my stomach was ready for the constant eating that we were about to indulge into as soon as we land in Penang.
Getting around the island is not that hard, they have local buses (which are hella cheap) and local taxis around the island. You can use your Grab here as well. So if you decide to do this, make sure that you have internet and the fare varies from 10 to 30 RM ( USD$2.40 – 7.16 / 80 -238 baht) for each trips. If you want to explore the island and be environmentally friendly at the same time, you can rent a bike for an hour or even a day. We rented bikes on our 2nd day and it costed us 20 RM (USD$4.77 / 160 baht) for the whole day.
As we needed internet during our vacation, we bought the Digi Sim Card in the airport which costed us 25 RM (6 USD / 200 THB) and includes 8 GB of internet and 15 minutes of local calls which was enough for our 4 Day trip in Penang.
We dedicated this day to exploring more of the island and familiarizing ourselves with our surroundings. Our hotel’s location is in Georgetown which was the center itself. I suggest that you walk around the area first and appreciate the Colonial Architectures and of course, the street arts which they are known for. For sure that you will stumble into one while walking around Georgetown and they are not hard to miss.
You will find a bunch of these street arts around Penang. You can treat it like a treasure hunt!
This street art collection had explanations of the area’s history that the street art is located.
Modern art surrounding this beautiful island.
This was just in front of the restaurant that we ate in.
We were hungry after walking around and decided to have our first meal on this small restaurant near our hotel and tried some local specialty dishes. We ordered Prawn Mee, Char Koay Teow and these fried snacks that I do not know the name of. It costed us around 20 RM (USD$4.77 / 160 baht) in total including Teh Tarik.
It won’t hurt to eat fried dishes once in a while.
If you love shrimp flavor in broths, then you will definitely like this.
Char Koay Teow is a less spicier version of Pad Thai. Both have their very distinct tastes.
The meals filled us up and as we have some time to spare, we decided to head to Chinatown. There were so much street food around this area with the likes of Satay, Bah Kuh Teh, Char Koay Teow and other Malaysian dishes. We were so tempted to buy more but we were so full from our previous meal and opted for small snacks instead.
Thanks to Sonia’s curiosity because she saw this small stall selling fried doughnuts with fillings inside. She insisted that we buy one. We got the peanut and a plain one. The taste was not as we expected it to be because there were some salt under it and our first time tasting it. It did tone down the sweetness of the filling which made it good and warm doughnuts made a good snack to eat while walking around Georgetown.
Good thing Sonia saw this stall after our dinner. A perfect snack to finish a meal.
This is what’s under all those cloths. Fried donuts with various fillings!
You can have a flat(plain) or round one (peanut) if you prefer.
As the sun started to set, you will notice all the restaurants filling up for dinner time and our attention was caught by this stall selling food on a stick. Apparently, this is called Lok Lok which are choices of various meats, tofu and veggies on a stick and dipped in boiling water. They also have different sauces in which you can choose from. Whether you want yours spicy, sweet and they even have peanut sauce which was delish. I personally love having options when it comes to food and so this stall left a mark in my mind.
As you can see Sonia insisted that we try this even though we were so full already.
So many sauces to choose from!
Our second day in Penang was my actual birthday and I spent it eating of course! Sonia found this restaurant named “What The Duck” that specializes in, you guess it, duck. What actually intrigued me the most about their menu is their Duck Confit. As someone who has never tried duck confit, I was ecstatic to be able to taste it. We ordered 4 dishes in total, an appetizer, 2 main dishes and a special dessert.
First up is our appetizer called “Duck Lover Platter of Trio” which consisted of Duck Chowder with bread stick, Smoked Duck on toast topped with Tomato Salsa and Thai Style Duck Roll. The Duck chowder was the star of this dish, it was perfectly creamy but not too overwhelming.
That duck chowder was so creamy that I finished it immediately as soon as it arrived.
Next is the main star of my lunch, “Duck Confit”. Confit is a kind of cooking where any type of food is cooked slowly over a long period of time as a way of preserving the food. This dish had Ratatouille and Mashed Sweet Potatoes on the side. One thing I can tell you, this dish made it to my top favorite foods after just one bite. The meat was so tender yet crispy outside, a perfect combination.
Look at that duck lying on a bed of mashed sweet potatoes.
Sonia’s dish was “WTD Crispy Grill Seabass” with Ratatouille and Mashed Potato on the side. We both honestly thought this dish was just okay and that the cut was too thick that it made the fish too chewy for our liking.
Not our cup of tea but it can be improved.
To end the meal, we got some desserts. It was a “Special Homemade Ice Cream and Salted Duck Egg Cotton Cheesecake”. Both of these desserts have salted duck egg in them. We both don’t like sweets but we both definitely enjoyed the combination of sweetness and its saltiness.
The special cake for my birthday!
Moving on to dinner time, we had rented bikes for 1 day and thought that this was a good opportunity to travel around Georgetown in our own pace. We were right, Penang is a bike-friendly location and you will see bike lanes on the side of the road. Biking became both our transportation and exercise for the day.
We biked for almost an hour before arriving to Gurney Drive Hawker Centre which was a struggle as there were so many fast cars. You still have to be careful about the cars around as they drive really fast, good thing I have a good navigator (which was Sonia) to help me bike safely around Georgetown.
So many people that we had to walk around to look for seats.
This place had locals and tourists come to eat here.
The Hawker Centre was filled with so many stalls that it was so hard to pick one. There was this one stall that attracted our attention. The vendors were singing “Rojak” out loud to the music blasting from their stall. He was also doing some tricks and the array of choices for the food made it so hard for us to choose what to eat. If you’re all wondering what Rojak is, it is a fruit and vegetable salad topped with spicy palm sugar dressing and is commonly found in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.
A peek of their wide array of choices for you to eat with Rojak.
The photo makes the plate look small but I am telling you that this plate is bigger than my face.
What we thought was just a few pieces of food turned out to be more than what we expected. This dish filled us for the whole night that we didn’t have a chance to order other food as it was just too much. Honestly, I am not a big fan of Rojak or I might have just eaten too much of it but I would like to try again in the future.
Last meal for our first day was this “bone marrow soup” that I found when we had a stopover at a nearby park. As soon as I saw the bone marrow, I knew I had to eat that like how I do in the Philippines. The weather that night was cold and a warm broth is perfect The taste is quite similar to how my dad used to make this back home.
The server returned to our table with the straw and put it in the marrow itself.
The broth inside this pot was bursting with umami flavor.
This concludes the part 1 of my Penang travels. It was not enough to put everything in one post so I had to separate them. You can find more infos about Penang in my next post so hang on to your seats ‘til then!