1. Kheng Pin Cafe
If you have a penchant for deep-fried Malaysian cuisine, then you’ll find pleasure in lor bak. It’s a dish hailing from Hokkien/Teochew traditions, encompassing an array of meats, seafood, tofu, and vegetables.
These ingredients are seasoned with five-spice powder, encased in a thin beancurd skin, and then subjected to deep-frying. They are served alongside chili sauce and loh, a sweet sauce thickened with corn starch and beaten eggs.
Khen Pin Cafe has garnered recognition from prominent food blogs in Singapore and Penang for hosting some of the finest lor bak in Penang. Truly shiok!
For those acquainted with Filipino street food, this might ring a bell as kikiam. While they share similarities, the lor bak coating tends to be drier, thicker, and more crunchy.
Behold Uncle Lau in action, frying up the morning batch of lor bak at Kheng Pin Cafe. It’s mentioned that Uncle Lau has been perfecting his distinctive lor bak recipe for more than four decades.
Kheng Pin Cafe
Address: 80, Jalan Penang, George Town, 10000 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Operating Hours: 7AM-3PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mon)
Expect to Pay: About RM 10 (for two)
How to Get There: Kheng Pin Cafe is a short walk from the corner of Penang Road and Chulia Street. Walk northeast on Penang Road and you’ll see it on your left at the corner of Sri Bahari Road.
2. Sister Yao’s Char Koay Kak at Macalister Lane
Char koay kak, also known as “chai tow kueh” or “carrot cake” in Singapore, is a radish cake stir-fried in a thick black soy sauce, featuring preserved radish, bean sprouts, and eggs.
For over forty years, this unassuming stall on Macalister Lane in Penang has been dishing out some of the city’s most exceptional char koay kak.
Sister Yao’s stall serves up super tasty char koay kak, boasting a savory yet slightly sweet flavor profile with a delightful gummy texture. Although initially not our top pick, this dish gradually won us over—a common trend with many Malaysian delicacies we sampled in Penang.
While it may not immediately blow you away, the dish grows on you, revealing its nuanced flavors over time. I particularly enjoyed the juxtaposition of the bean sprouts’ crunchiness with the radish cake’s gumminess.
You can find Sister Yao’s Char Koay Kak stall outside Seow Fong Lye Cafe along Macalister Lane. The Eoh sisters have faithfully maintained their father’s recipe for over thirty years.
Our quick pitstop en route to the Komtar Bus Terminal proved worthwhile. If you’re headed to Kek Lok Si Temple by bus, this spot is an excellent choice for a satisfying breakfast or a light snack.
Sister Yao’s Char Koay Kak @ Macalister Lane
Address: 94, Lorong Macalister, George Town, 10400 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Operating Hours: 7AM–1PM, daily
Expect to Pay: About RM 5
How to Get There: From the corner of Penang Road and Chulia Street, walk southwest on Penang Road until you reach Burmah Road. Turn right onto Burma Road then turn left onto Macalister Lane. Sister Yao’s Char Koay Kak stall will be on your left around the entrance to Seow Fong Lye Cafe.
3. Seafood Popiah at Medan Selera Padang Brown
Popiah, a fresh spring roll of Hokkien/Teochew origin, involves filling a thin, paper-like crepe or pancake with finely grated turnips and a medley of ingredients such as bean sprouts, grated carrots, pork, seafood, fried tofu, chopped peanuts, fried shallots, and shredded omelette.
While you can encounter popiah at numerous Penang street food stalls and restaurants, the allure of the Padang Brown Food Court lies in their rendition featuring delectable crab meat.
At this hawker stall in Medan Selera Padang Brown, the uniqueness of their popiah lies in the incorporation of succulent crab meat—a rarity in Penang, as per my research.
In addition to the crab, the crepe is filled with stir-fried turnips and shredded omelette, all generously bathed in a sweet turnip gravy. The result is a sweet, tender delight that is truly delectable.
For over sixty years, this Penang street food stall at Medan Selera Padang Brown has been delighting patrons with its seafood popiah. Witness the popiah master in action, expertly spreading a sweet sauce over the crepes before filling them with his signature blend of ingredients.
Medan Selera Padang Brown
Address: Jalan Perak, 10400 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Operating Hours: 5:30–11:30PM, daily
Expect to Pay: About RM 8 for two
How to Get There: The Padang Brown Food Court is too far to walk from the center of George Town so it’s best to take a taxi or use Grab.