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Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Taste of Heaven- Penang Malaysia

Georgetown- Penang
20 June 2015


  • Hawker food stalls
  • Murals around the city
  • Cheap beer!

Penang, Malaysia is the food capital of Asia. With a melting pot of cultures made up of Malay, Chinese, and Indian, you can find just about any type of food here. And not just your average, run of the mill food, this food will leave you yearning for more than you can possible fit in your stomach.

Brandon and I weren't sure what to expect upon arriving to Malaysia, however it was a connecting point for Indonesia. We had heard of a few places to visit and thought we should give it a try. We quickly fell in love with the bustling city of Penang. On the surface, Penang seems like just another city full of exhaust from cars and dilapidated buildings, however when you look closely the streets are filled with old pre war houses, giant murals hidden in alleyways, and interesting food -- delicious and mouth watering, and the best food you can imagine! Penang is known for it's diverse choices of food, and during our two short days here we ate as much as we could; sampling our way through Chinatown up to Little India and down the side streets filled with Malay hawker stalls. The food is cheap and portions are not so big that you are able to try a variety of plates for every meal.

First on our list was Penang Laksa, the famous dish that launched Malaysia into stardom in the world of food. Ranked 7th in CNN's "World's 50 Most Delicious Foods" list, a visit to Penang is not complete without trying a bowl of this fishy, heavenly goodness. We stopped by a street cart, ordered up a bowl, and paid a whopping 3 RM, which is equivalent to about 90 cents. The dish, which is made up of noodles, fish broth, a few varieties of vegetables, and peppers, is a favorite among the locals and tourists alike.

Brandon and I decided early on in our travels that we were going to try as many local foods as we could. We wanted to be adventurous with our food choices, and try things that we were a bit obscure. This has so far worked out well for us and for the most part we have enjoyed almost everything we've tried (although the dried bugs in Ayutthaya are not something I'll eat again any time soon). Part of the fun in learning about a new culture is doing as the locals do. That means avoiding restaurants and eating on the streets.

In addition to many other dishes we had during our visit in Penang, one of our favorite desserts was ice kacang. This sweet refreshing dessert is made with shave ice, and a generous dollop of homemade durian ice cream topped with sweetened red beans, creamed sweet corn, palm fruit, strips of dried nutmeg, colorful jellies, then drenched in sweet flavored syrup. Something that is so completely different than anything we've ever had in the US and oh so delicious.

As I mentioned before Penang's streets are filled with imaginative murals and steel sculptures. The murals, which typically include outside objects such as bicycles and motorcycles create such a crowd that you can barely get a close up glimpse of these beautiful works of art during the day time. Oddly enough, the crowd around the murals seem to add to its appeal.

Other highlights of Penang included staying in a newly renovated guest house complete with air conditioning, walking around the botanical gardens with a fellow traveler we met earlier that day and drinking beer with some locals.

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