roti-canaiRoti Canai is a pastry-like flat bread. Wheat flour is kneaded and large dough is than separated into small lumps, slightly bigger than the size of ping pong balls. It is then flattened and then go through a process of twirling and flinging motion in the air to thin it out. Ghee is constantly applied in the process to prevent the dough from breaking as it gets thinner.

When the dough is stretched to paper thin, it is then folded into a circular shape and press to flatten. It is fried to a crispy ad slightly charred on a flat circular iron pan.

Roti Canai is served with dhall or lentil curry, onion pickles or with sugar. The dhall may not be spicy hot, but the herbs and spices used are rich and pungent.

A plain Roti Canai cost around RM1.00 per piece and you can order additional side dish like chicken or mutton curry which goes perfectly well with the dish.

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penang-oh-jianOh Jian is basically an oyster omelette with a twist. The omelette is made with a mixture of light tapioca flour giving it a sticky and gooey texture.

The mixture is first fried in  flat cast iron wok over a very strong fire. Subsequently, eggs are added to the mixture. On the other half of the pan, the oyster is fried with chili paste. The two are then fried together until golden brown and fragrant. Before serving, the oyster omelette is garnished with chopped spring onions and coriander.

The dipping is made of chili sauce with sourish taste and minced garlic in it. This tasty dish is laden with freshness of oyster and flavorful taste of the eggs and chewy batter.

Each plate of Oh Jian cost Rm6.00 onwards.

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wan-tan-meeWan Tan Mee or Wanton Mee is a noodle dish served with meat dumplings wrapped in wanton skin. It can be served either dry or with clear soup.

The basic ingredients for the noodles are eggs and wheat flour and the thickness would be about 2 mm. The texture of the noodles has to be soft but springy when biting.

The dumpling is usually made from a mixture of minced pork and prawns, spiced with pepper and salt, wrapped in the wanton skin.

The dry version is served tossed with just the right amount of thick  soy sauce and lard. Both versions are served with sliced barbeque meat, shredded chicken and few strands of leafy vegetables. A bowl of soup with dumplings accompanies the dry version and for the soup version, allingredients will be placed in one bowl. Pickled green chili soaked in light soy sauce is the best combination.

A bowl of wholesome and hearty Wan Tan Mee  is around RM3.00.

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penang-mee-gorengPenang Mee Goreng is an Indian style fried noodles and is predominantly served by the Indian community.

Though it looks simple, but what set it special apart from an ordinary frired noodle dish is the way the noodles are prepared. The secret is to blanch the yellow noodles and the bean sprouts before the frying process. The fire used to heat the wok is medium strong so as not to give a burnt aroma to the noodles. Some will continue to turn the to wok clockwise or anti clockwise on the stove to get a even fry.

The ingredients consist of  spicy cuttlefish, diced boiled potatoes, fried soy bean curd, puffy flour fritters, red and green chilies.  Flavorful gravy made from chili and tomato puree is add to the noodles to make it slightly moist and eggs are optional. The dish is garnish with chopped lettuce and sprinkled with finely ground peanuts.

Another version of this dish is where the noodles are drenched in the gravy instead of frying it. This dish is called “Mee Rebus” and the same ingredients are used to garnish the dish.

Both versions are served with a piece of lime, which is squeezed on the noodles to enhance the whole dish with a tinge of sourness. A basic plate of Mee Goreng  cost around RM3.00 to RM4.00.

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penang-nasi-kandarNasi Kandar is the original Penang dish sold by the Indian Muslim community. In this dish, one can taste the full richness of the spices used to cook the different curries.

The spices and herbs are mixed together in a perfect combination that brings out the aroma of each dish. Ordering this dish is simple. Just choose the curry that you prefer and the seller will lay them on top of your serving of plain rice, giving the dish a tantalising burst of flavors.

The Nasi Kandar stalls or restaurants most often serve chicken, beef, mutton, squid, fish or prawns with varieties of vegetables and eggs.  Vegetables and beans are mostly fried in turmeric. The most exotic thing about the Nasi Kandar is the mix curry gravy that spread on top of your rice.

Prices vary depending on the choice of your dishes order. Nasi Kandar with a piece of meat and vegetables is around RM5.00.

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chee-cheong-funChee Cheong Fun is a dish made of steamed rice flour, rolled upto about 6 inches long resembling a pig’s intestines. This is also how this dish got its name: “chee Cheong” which means “pig’s intestine” and “fun” means noodles in Cantonese. So it is actually a Cantonese dish originallly.

The Penang version of Chee Cheong Fun is different from the Hong Kong one. The rice noodles over here are unrolled, sliced and served with a mixture of cooked oil, light soy sauce, sweet sauce, shrimp paste, chili paste and sprinkled with roasted sesame seeds. The noodles can also be eaten with just a dash of light soy sauce, cooked oil and sesame seeds.

Nowadays the hawkers get their rice noodles from their supplier but make their own sauces. The shrimp paste is what most customers come for, it is a smooth black paste made of prawn stock, salt and malt sugar and has a strong fish flavor.

The rice flour in rolls will be kept warm in a steamer, it will be open up and sliced into bite size then top with the sauces of your choice when served.

A plate of Chee Cheong Fun with 3 rolls cost around RM2.00.

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assam-laksaAssam Laksa is Penang signature dish. It is noodles in fish broth garnished with a lot of different vegetables.

It is spicy hot and sour in taste. The spicy and fishy soup is sour because of the large amount of tamarind used (locally known as Assam Jawa).

The fish used to make the broth is mackerel, which is the first choice (Ikan Kembong is also recommended), deboned, and added to the soap together with lemongrass, chilies and tamarind to boil.

The noodles used in Assam Laksa is fresh thicker rice vermicelli which is much thicker than the regular dry ones. The noodles is first placed at the base of the bowl, after which the Chinese lettuces, small pieces of  pineapples and most importantly, mint leaves are added. Then the piping hot soup is poured over it, followed by finely chopped ginger buds.

Most stalls pour out the soup from the bowl back to the pot then re-scoop the soup into the bowl again, repeating this action two or three times to make sure the entire bowl of Assam Laksa is piping hot. Befor serving, a thick, sweet and salty shrimp paste is swirled on top of the dish. Some may find the prawn paste (“hae ko”) too strong but when it blended well with the soup, it further enhance the dish.

The price of each bowl is around RM2.00 to RM2.50.

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penang-char-koay-teowFried Koay Teow or Char Koay Teow is probably the most popular hawker food among the locals. This dish uses flat rice nooldes of roughly 1 cm in width. The noodles are fried in an iron cast wok over very high heat. The wok is preheated for few second sover strong fire. Oil usually lard is added into the wok follow by a small amount of minced garlic and fresh prawns. The prawns are fried until half-cooked and then stir in the flat white rice nooldes and follow by dash of seasoned soy sauce, chili paste, bean sprouts, egg and chives. The last ingredients added is the cockles. The perfect Fried Koay Teow should neither too wet or too dry. The superb taste of this dish is a combination of the strong fragrance of the sauteed ingredients and the sweetness of the prawns. It is best eaten immediately when served. A basic plate should cost between RM3.50 to RM4.50 and the spiciness depends on the amount of chli paste.

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Popular Penang Street Food

penang-hokkien-meeHokkien Mee, commonly known as prawn noodles or prawn mee is a dish of either yellow noodles or rice noodles (or a mixture of both) served in a thick prawn and pork soup garnished with kangkung (water spinach) and bean sprouts. It has a strong, spicy and flavorful prawn taste. A bowl of Hokkien Mee is usually served with slices of boiled eggs, small cooked shrimps, thin slices of pork,  sprinkled with crispy fried shallots and a spoonful of chili paste.

Some will add crunchy golden cubes of deep-fried  lard to jazz up the bowl of Hokkien Mee. Normally a basic bowl costs between RM2.50 to RM3.50. Some stalls offer special toppings like pork ribs, mantis prawns, fish balls and roast pork at additional charge. It is slightly spicy but you can adjust the spiciness by adding the amount of chili paste.

It is one of the most popular hawker food in Penang and you can find it in many places through out the day and night.