We came to Penang to eat. There is no more profound reason that we chose to spend 10 days here other than to eat as much as we can of as many dishes as possible.
Penang’s colonial history and geography have made it a fabric of cultures from all over Asia and Europe. In addition to the Malays, the Chinese and Indians make up the majority of the population. Each of those cultures have fabulous food in their own right, but the fusion of their co-existence for centuries in Penang makes for some very special meals.
We can see the floating mosque, Masjid Terapung, from our new home and decided to take a walk there and pick up dinner along the way. The floating mosque was built after the 2004 tsunami destroyed a nearby mosque and village, and the residents of our neighborhood, Tanjung Bungah are very proud of its existance.
We came across Kafe Tsunami Village. The restaurant was packed with people focused on picking through fish bones and dining family style. Right on the water, with a view of the lighted mosque, it seemed too good to pass up.
The kids immediately took to playing in the sand and making friends. Our only worry was whether any of the 20 or so cats lingering outside the kitchen were rabid. I was verbally wondering why there would be so many cats when Sandeep (not the animal lover) disgustingly replied “cat’s like fish bones.”
We thought the fruit drinks in Chiang Mai were fresh, but Penang takes liquid fruit to another level. The green apple juice is frothy perfection, watermelon juice tastes like a summer picnic and the lemon water strikes the perfect balance between sweet and tart. Ava decided she couldn’t choose.
We had no idea what the menu said, even though it was in English, so we took our server’s suggestions and the food was fabulous.
These little guys were fried to a crisp and we consumed them skeleton and all. I’m usually squeamish about whole fish, but these were just too good.
The fried shrimp came in a crispy batter, which was delicious topped over the crab fried rice.
Most of the prices on the menu simply said ‘market’ and we weren’t sure how much we’d have to cough up. The bill came to 69 Ringgit, or 23 US Dollars. It’s a shock compared to Chiang Mai, but oh so worth it.
The weather report for the our 10 days here says 60% chance of precipitation. We couldn’t figure out why since our first day had been perfectly sunny and dry. On our 20 minute walk back home we were introduced to the tropical night storm. Rain drops as fat as the lemons in my juice accompanied us all the way home. The bright side is that the kids needed a shower after their sand exploration, so we were able to multi-task on the way. Kayan even decided to hydrate himself. Here are the soaking kids in the elevator home.
Over the next several days, we’ll be sampling Penang’s hawkers, or street foods. I’ve been told that the best cooking classes in Penang are the ones observed over a Hawker stall. Stay tuned.