Monday, March 4, 2013

5 must-try dishes in Georgetown


The city of Penang, which was once referred to by foreign traders as ‘the Pearl of the Orient’ is famed the world over for its tantalizing hawker fare. The city is littered with numerous ‘good’ hawker stalls, but those located along Georgetown’s seafront Gurney Drive are perhaps the most well-known, for they seem to constantly busy and tend to stay open until the wee hours of the morning.
If you are on your first trip to Georgetown, and  don’t know where to start out on your gastronomic explorations here’s a little tip to get you started, look for the stalls with the largest crowds, these are probably those which are frequented by ‘the locals’ and thus are guaranteed  to dish out the ‘best’ eats. 
Once you have worked out your strategy, you may wonder as to what are the must-try delights of Penang? To help you out, we have listed some of Penang’s best known dishes which should be sampled on any trip to Georgetown.
Assam Laksa
Laksa, a curry-like soup dish is ubiquitous all over Malaysia. In most places a laksa consists of thick noodles served in a rich coconut milk sauce. Not so in Penang, where this quintessential Nyonya  (Straits-Chinese) dish is known as Assam Laksa, and features a hot, tart and sour  fish broth fashioned out of mackerel flakes and tamarind, and flavored with exotic ingredients like torch ginger flower, lemongrass, galangal, belacan (prawn paste), chilies and shallots.
Char Kuay Teow
Penang’s Char Kuay Teow is considered to be the poster boy of its repertoire of hawker fare. This dish which consists of flat noodles, stir fried with soy sauce, lard, prawns, bean sprouts and chives, is anointed with shredded crab meat in Penang for extra flavor. Chefs all over Malaysia and beyond, attempt to recreate Penang’s famed Char Kuay Teow but the original remains unmatched in taste and flavor.
Hokkien Mee
Hokkien Mee is another noodle based dish which can be found all over Malaysia. If you choose to eat a Hokkien mee in Kuala Lumpur, you are likely to be served a dish of stir-fried fat yellow noodles in a dark, sticky soy sauce. In Penang, Hokkien Mee is transformed into a soup-based dish with the soup being fashioned out of shrimp paste and dried prawns. Moreover, the Penang version of Hokkien mee features rice noodles or egg noodles rather than the fat yellow noodles of the KL version. The Penang version of the dish is also devoid of any dark soy sauce. Instead, Penang’s Hokkien mee features generous amounts of prawns, slices of chicken, fish cake, kangkung(water spinach), deep fried shallots, spring onions, fresh lime and a generous amount of chilies. This dish is usually served with a bit of sambal(a chili-based condiment) on the side and is quite delicious. Sample Penang’s famous hokkien mee and one of the many stalls that line  Georgetown’s street food paradise, New Lane (Lorong Baru).
Nasi Kandar
Nasi Kandar is a rice-based dish which can be found at many of the mamak stalls of Gurney drive.  Mamak cuisine is the term given to Indian Muslim cooking, which displays a strong Malaysian influence. Nasi Kandar is a dish that consists of white rice served with various spicy Malaysian curries that feature chicken, beef, squid or even fish roe. Vegetables like okra, aubergine and bitter gourd are served as accompaniments to the Nasi Kandar. Georgetown abounds with several 24-hr Nasi Kandar stalls, the most famous of which is Nasi Kandar Line Clear, located at the junction of Chulia Street and Penang Road.
Rojak Pasembur

This refreshing Malaysian salad also has Indian-Muslim origins and features shredded vegetables like cucumber and turnip, along with diced potatoes, beansprouts, boiled egg and tofu, tossed together in sweet and spicy peanut. The Penang version of Rojak Pasembur is usually anointed with prawn fitters.

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