Taking the train from Bangkok in 1987, Nitza and I travelled down to Penang, Malaysia.
One of the best parts of the journey was the crab curry served in the buffet car – spicy but delicious. The journey took us through a verdant landscape dotted with small villages surrounded by paddy fields.
Penang is still one of my favourite places, partly because of the great food to be found there – including Malaysian, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Thai, and European. Some of the best dishes to be found in Penang include:
- Penang Char Koay Teow is a MUST-eat street-side food when in Penang. The dish consists of Koay Teow (white flat rice noodles) stir-fried with chives, eggs, crunchy bean sprouts, and prawns.
- Asam Laksa is a flavorful, tangy, and spicy Malaysian fish-based rice noodle soup. It is a dish not to be missed when visiting Penang.
- Tau Sar Piah is a delicious snack that is very popular in Penang. It is traditionally a type of baked good with various bean fillings, such as red beans or green beans. Penang Tau Sar Piah is usually filled with soft mashed-up mung beans.
- Nasi Lemak literally means “Fat Rice” in Malay. Why “fat”? Because the rice is cooked in fatty coconut milk and pandan leaves, giving it that rich nutty flavor. It is usually served with fried Ikan Bilis (Anchovies), boiled eggs, slices of cucumber, fried peanuts, and fried chicken. And don’t forget to add a dollop of Sambal chili.
- Kueh Pie Tee or Koay Pai Ti, is a Peranakan snack popular in Malaysia and Singapore. In Singapore, this is usually only served during festive celebrations and family gatherings. Koay Pai Tee is often served with popiah since their ingredient is basically the same – bamboo shoots, thinly sliced veggies, and prawns.
- Oyster Omelette is yet another dish that became popular in Malaysia and Singapore through Teochew influences. There are many styles of cooking Oyster Omelette, but in Penang, the omelet is usually served soft, thick, and not overcooked.
Penang is on one hand, proud to be a thriving, bustling modern city and on the other, one that treasures its past.