Top Street Food of Penang

Posted on March 8, 2013


The abundance of hawker cuisine in Penang meant that they are seldom cooked at home. Furthermore their preparations are usually laborious. KuKu would only cook on special occasions and to feed many mouths. On any other day she preferred to buy from the markets or hawkers.

Although most hawker centres serve a variety of well-known cuisines, not all hawkers are equal. Indeed a well-patronised stall is worth its weight in gold. From humble beginnings it is not uncommon that some of the more popular hawkers grew to afford expensive cars, bungalows and even able to send their children abroad for studies. KuKu frequently talked about the hawkers she acquainted through the years. Some grew to be very successful but remained humble, whilst others had egos that grew proportionally to their success. Not all hawkers have found the silver lining. The less popular ones ply the streets in the suburban residential areas, shouting their fares, and are stopped now and then by customers. They prepare the food on the spot, wait for the customers to finish eating, wash the plates and utensils in the bucket of water they carry; they then move along until they are hailed again. These unfortunate hawkers are seen less and less in the urban areas. Stiff competition must have driven them to extinction. Either that or the government may have moved them to food courts.

In Penang, where people are known for their simplicity in life, hawker food is eaten by both the rich and the poor alike. It is not uncommon to see a well-dressed upper-class patron sitting next to a blue collar at a hawker stall or in a coffee shop. His main concern, like everyone else in Penang, is to enjoy the delicious fares of the hawkers – everything else is secondary.

For me, these hawker food stalls bring back fond memories of winding down after school. For my aunt, it was here she became a past master in the ancient arts of cooking, and survival. As we enjoyed the scrumptious hawker cuisines and the extravagant street lighting, my mind drifted to the upcoming festival.

To give the uninitiated a better picture of Penang street food, I have prepared an eBook on “Top Street Food of Penang”. A FREE copy of this eBook will be given out in the next month. CLICK HERE to find out how you can get a copy.

Vol 1 Cover

Posted in: Food, Story