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Warning: Don’t Travel Here If You Love Chinese, Indian or Malaysia Food

Georgetown (Penang), Malaysia

It’s literally a melting pot.

Known as the food capital of Malaysia – Georgetown boasts some of the best Indian, Chinese and Malay cuisine in the entire world.

Mouth-watering treats like Dim Sum for breakfast, Asam Laksa for lunch and Chicken Tikka Masala with Mango Lassi for dinner have been perfected over hundreds of years and are served up fresh daily.

If you love a mix of delicious cuisine from a historic port town, then Georgetown is just for you…

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History of Georgetown

In 1786, Penang was founded by Captain Francis Light and quickly was transformed into one of South East Asia’s major trading post along with Malacca and Singapore.

Today, Georgetown located on the northeast corner of Penang is the second largest metropolitan area in Malaysia with 600,000 inhabitants.  Streets are lined with traditional shop houses, colonial mansions, temples, and historic buildings. The town’s rich colonial history and architecture are intertwined almost seamlessly with newly developed modern buildings in this beautiful waterfront city.

Georgetown, along with Malaysia’s other port town Malacca, were both recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008 for being a multi-cultural trading town, displaying multi-cultural heritage and traditions of Asia, and having a unique architecture, culture and townscape.

Despite the large population, Georgetown is an easygoing, slow moving, sleepy town, with a whole lot of charm and wide-variety of mouth-watering Malaysia food.

Credit: Trekity Credit: Trekity

Best Malaysia Food

Here are Malaysia’s best dishes:

  • Roti Canai – a pancake pastry that’s served with a curry dipping sauce.
  • Chili Pan Mee – spicy noodle mixed with pork, garlic, chili flakes, and egg – topped with green onions.
  • Malaysian satays – chicken or beef skewers served with a peanut sauce.
  • Char Kuay Teow – stir-fried rice noodles, meat and soy sauce.
  • Nasi Kandar – rice served with fried meat and curries.
  • Nasi Lemak – coconut rice wrapped in banana leaf served with anchovy, egg, fried chicken, peanuts, and chili sauce.
  • Curry Laksa – spicy coconut noodle soup served with chicken, shrimp, or tofu.
Image Credit: By avlxyz

Where to Eat Malaysia Food and More

Georgetown dishes up food in restaurants, food courts, and street stalls all with varying degrees of comfort, taste, and price.

Night time is when most street vendors are hawking their delicious cuisines at very affordable prices.  Only visit a stall that has a high turnover as the food will be fresher and probably tastier.

The following are great locations where you can hunt for the best cuisine in Georgetown, with the location listed first, followed by short description:

  • Burma Road and Swatow Lane Junction:  Once an amusement park, now turned food court, New World Park offers some Malaysia food specialties such as Mee Rebus (yellow noodle soup with a spicy and sweet flavor) and Hokkien Hae Mee (fried noodle with prawn).
  • Jalan Penang: The Red Garden food court is a great spot for Lok-Kok (skewered meat cooked in a boiling pot and served with dipping sauce), Assam Laksa (sour fish noodle soup), Rojak (fruit and vegetable salad), and other international cuisine.  Opens at 4:30 p.m.
  • Jalan Penang near Lebuh Chulia: Khaleel Restaurant is the best place to try Indian specialties such as Chapatti, Tikka Masala, Mango Lassi, and other treats. Open 24 hours.
  • Upper (north) Jalan Penang Road: Pricey restaurants and bars with a comfortable atmosphere serve anything from tapas to sushi.
  • Gurney Drive north of Georgetown: Perhaps the most famous street food collection in all of Southeast Asia with rows of stalls dishing up local favorites.  Opens at 6:00 p.m.
  • Lebuh Kimberly and adjacent streets: Street stalls in Chinatown offer noodles, dumplings, and skewered meats.
  • Lebuh Chulia and Lebuh King: Nagore Place is a popular spot to choose from many restaurants serving Indian, Malay, and other international cuisines, located on a stunning strip of colonial style architecture.
  • Lebuh Pasar and Lebuh Penang: Indian and Malaysian cuisine is served in quarters of Little India.  Listen for the screaming Bollywood music to guide you there.

Credit: Michael.Camilleri Credit: Michael.Camilleri

When To Go

December to February is the best time to visit Georgetown. While the weather will still be warm and humid, there will be less chance for rain.

Climate

Penang has an equatorial climate (hot and humid) with consistent temperature throughout the year.

Temperatures during the daytime range between 86 to 95°F (30 to 35°C), while nighttime decreases to 80 to 84°F (27 to 29°C).

Getting There & Around

Bayan Lepas International Airport is located roughly 12.5 miles (20 km) from Georgetown and receives incoming flights from Singapore, Bangkok, Hadyai, Phuket, Maden, Xiamen, and Chennai regularly.

Average Costs

  • Mid-range accommodations: $30-50
  • Meals: $5-10
  • Bottle of beer: $2

Do’s

  • Expect to hear Muslim prayer calls at specific times of the day.
  • Try Asam Laksa, a spicy and sour noodle fish soup and a local favorite.
  • Remove your shoes when entering a temple, mosque or someone’s home.

Don’ts

  • Be surprised to see Guinness in most bars – its brewery is located near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  • Plan any activities on Saturday afternoons or Sundays as many shops and restaurants are closed for religious reasons.
  • Display signs of public affection, but what you do in private is completely up to you.

Fun Facts

  • Georgetown was named after Britain’s King George III.
  • As of 2006, Georgetown is the only state in Malaysia where the Chinese population is the majority (43.6%) followed by Malay (40%), Indian (9.9) and other (6.5%).
  • Islam is the official state religion, but Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Taoism and other religions are freely practiced.

Feature Image Credit: Dave_B_

Comments

  1. Malaysia was such a shock. I couldn’t believe how delicious the cuisine was. I spent three months in India, but nothing compared to the chicken tikka masala I had in Georgetown. And I still get cravings for curry laksa all the time. Yummie!

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