The impetus for us and my sisters-in-law to drive all the way up to Penang was not so much the resort for the kids, but the food! My mum-in-law and my mum followed us up to help keep an eye on the kids. The first day, as the kids were busy playing in the resort, we decided to have a simple lunch at the bar & grill for the convenience. So for dinner, we wanted to eat some good, fresh, cheap seafood. A few people recommended this place for seafood. The garlic and butter fried fish was good, as was the black pepper squid. The salted egg crab was not bad, but some of the dishes we ordered were pretty average. I guess it was because we didn’t know which were their speciality dishes. When we left, we saw that the other tables had dishes which looked yummier than ours!
|Lobster with noodles
It was about a 10 minute drive from our hotel, but the kids did not like this place as there were stray cats hanging around our table while we ate.
|Supposedly the best seafood place in Penang
The next day, with so many kids in tow, we decided not to venture far for lunch. We drove to this Thai restaurant which is just a couple of minutes from our hotel. They have live seafood in the tanks at the entrance and the kids were amazed to see the giant fishes and giant prawns. But as we walked right in, we realised that this restaurant over-looked the beach. What a lovely surprise.
|Lunch by the beach
We couldn’t resist ordering their geoduck sashimi as it was cheaper than back home. It is one of my mum’s favorite dishes and since it was her birthday that day, we decided to give her a treat. The kids enjoyed it very much too.
|Fresh geoduck sashimi
Back at the resort, the kids wanted to swim some more so in the evening, we left them all to my mum while we headed into town in search of some good food. My SIL was bent on buying good tau sar pneah home and she heard that Ghee Hiang made the best ones. She drove all the way to buy it but the branch had just closed so she went to the Jalan Macalister branch. The hubs and I found it pretty average, although the almond cookies were not bad. This is probably the most famous biscuit brand in Penang as it has a heritage of over 150 years.
|Ghee Hiang at Jalan Macalister
After she was satisfied with her purchases, we went in search of one of the most popular char kway teow stalls. There was hardly anyone waiting so we placed our order. Then the uncle asked if we were eating here or take away. We said “eat here”, and half expected to hang on to our plates and eat while standing. Then as it started to drizzle, we went across the street for shelter. That was when we realized that the coffee shop across the street was filled with people sitting at tables with no food. They were all waiting for their char kway teow!
|Roadside char kway teow at Jalan Siam
We waited for about 40 minutes for our food. We all agreed it was the best CKT we have ever eaten. In fact, that was my brother-in-law’s third CKT that day and he said that the others were not great at all. While waiting for our food, we chatted with the coffeeshop owner and he recommended another shop for tau sar pneah.
We felt that this pneah is better than the previous one so we bought a couple of boxes home as gifts.
Somehow, we had the misconception that everywhere in Penang would be serving great Penang hawker fare. But we realised that you actually have to know where to go for the good food, and you would have to know what to order.
|Murals by Ernest Zacharevic
Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to do a couple of other things we wanted to. One was to hunt for the fascinating wall paintings on the streets of Georgetown. They were painted about a year ago by Lithuania-born artist Ernest Zacharevic for the George Town Festival 2012. A good friend just came back from Penang with her kids and they had a great time playing real life ‘treasure hunt’ for the murals. But if you have young kids in tow, another option is to rent a trishaw and the driver will take you around to all the different murals.
Another place we wanted to check out was Macalister Mansion. When we went there, they were hosting a private function. What a pity. It’s a boutique hotel which looks like an old English mansion and there are whimsical animal statues all around the hotel. Apparently, they serve good Penang laksa there.
Another dish we did not get around to trying was Nasi Lemak. A relative recommended the popular stall at Jin Hoe cafe at Pulau Tikus. You have to get there early in the morning as they sell out very fast.
Sane tip: I guess if we ever do return to Penang, we will have to make it a longer trip when Kate is older. Then we’ll have more time to drive around and enjoy the street food. And we’ll definitely fly there instead of driving up. The drive home was rather agonising as Kate was cranky due to insufficient sleep on the trip and she cried for a big part of the 9-hour journey.
Save tip: Penang is a great destination for a family trip on a budget. A flight there on a budget airline is not expensive, and there is so much to entertain the kids and so much street food to keep the adults happy.
Penang – Golden Sands Resort