February 7, 2011


Last Tuesday night, we hopped on an overnight bus to one of my favorite places on earth: Penang. This island, off the west coast of Malaysia, is known for its rich colonial history, unique fusion of many cultures, religions, and ethnicities, and most importantly, its FOOD. We picked Penang for Chinese New Year specifically because there is a significant Chinese population on the island, whereas the Chinese population in Terengganu is approximately ZERO. We ate our first Penang breakfast at the famous “Nasi Kandar Line Clear” food stall at 5:30AM. The owner was wearing a red cowboy hat, blew an obnoxious whistle every few minutes, and insisted on taking a “thumbs up” photo with us after we’d finished our meal of curry chicken and ladies finger (aka okra). Oh, and we were joined at breakfast by a rat roughly the size of a terrier. We also found a Chinese market our first morning where we sampled all sorts of delicious delicacies: gooey sugar cakes (tee kuih), bean-filled fried dough balls (kuih bom), jackfruit, thin crispy pancakes (sweet apom), and fresh (REAL) coffee. Over the course of the weekend, we went to the Chinese chamber of commerce one morning for a free buffet, saw the snake temple (total letdown… basically a bunch of drugged up snakes hanging in trees), the Kek Lok Si temple lit up at night for Chinese New Year, visited the clan jetty fishing huts, and Fort Cornwallis… but let’s be real. The best part about this trip was the food, and the point was to just walk around enough to be vaguely hungry in another hour or so, so that we could try something new from another street stall. Thus, I'll let pictures speak for themselves...

Some yummy noodles being served at the early morning Chinese market... I would like to note that RM1 (one Ringgit) is equal to about 33 US cents. It has come to the point where if a meal is over 1 US dollar (RM3), I start to think: is this really worth it?

The fried sesame dough ball man caught me snapping a photo!

Action shot of the crispy pancake making lady.

Gado-Gado: a taste of Indonesia in Penang.

Ice Kachang

Mee Goreng... this dish is usually available at every Malaysian restaurant, but this version was one of my favorites. This exact dish from this exact stall was actually featured on Eating Asia, my favorite Malaysian food blog, on this post: http://eatingasia.typepad.com/eatingasia/2009/01/mee-first.html check it out!

Delightful breakfast of carrot cake (otherwise known as Chai Tow Kway), and wanton mee.

A stall in Little India selling various fried delights, including the universe's best samosas.

A vendor preparing Teh Tarik.

So yea, Penang was... amazing. Good food, good friends, good times. It somehow seemed fitting to usher in the "new year" with the Chinese considering this is the beginning of a VERY new year for me, and being in Penang was the perfect way to celebrate. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

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