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Beyond the Basics at Penang?

I've been going to Penang for years and usually get the same standby dishes--Buddhist yam pot; mango chicken (or shrimp); nasi lemak; roti canai. I've also seen recs on this board for the mee siam and the eggplant with basil, as well as the bone-in chicken curry.

But their menu is so enormous that I'm sure I'm missing some great dishes. Any recommendations for other excellent things to eat at Penang? Thanks!

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  1. I do the same thing at Penang that I do at other restaurants: don't actually order anything off the menu. Just tell the chef or waiter to kill me.

    They usually get it.

    1. They used to have an appetizer of raw cuttlefish in peanut sauce; if they still have it, get it. Also, their whole steamed fish used to be excellent.

      1 Reply
      1. re: galleygirl

        second the cuttlefish with peanut sauce and chinese watercress - though i'm sure that the cuttlefish is not raw.
        other picks - achat, chow kueh teau, indian mee goreng, mee siam, claypot noodles, prawn mee, penang assam fish head claypot, nasi lemak, beef rendang, shrimp with okra, malaysian buddhist, kangkung belachan, penang dried curry squid, steamed bass teau chew style, sizzling japanese bean curd with pork and shrimp.

      2. Like you, I order the same dish every time I'm at Penang - their Seafood Tom Yum Noodle Soup.

        1. watermelon drink
          (bone-in) chicken curry
          hainanese chicken
          hainanese chicken rice
          beef rendang
          chow kueh teow
          hokkien char mee
          indian mee goreng
          mee siam
          nasi lemak
          kang kung belachan
          whole fish in belachan sauce
          frog legs with ginger and scallion

          1 Reply
          1. re: galangatron

            Thanks for all the great suggestions! I'm heading there tonight and will try at least one or two of these ideas!

          2. the tom yum seafood soup, the squid in house sauce I think (sorry i'm not sure of the name but is a black beany kind of squid) and the whole fish - yummm

            1. as a former resident of malaysia i can safely say most of Penang's menu actually isn't Malaysian, but some conglomerate of southeast Asian foods. eggplant with basil is kind of taiwanese and tom yam is thai, for instance.

              nevertheless, the more malaysian/singaporean things on the menu include roti canai, mee siam, char kueh teow, claypot vegetables (ugh they really should throw the rice into the claypot instead of serving it on the side, so it gets crispy too, that's the traditional way to do it), satay, indian mee goreng, . can't advise too much on seafood or meat specific dishes though -- i like vegetables so much more than meat and seafood that i'm effectively vegetarian because of my tastes.

              char kueh teow and mee siam are probably my favourite dishes in penang because they more closely matches the taste i remember in malaysia than their other vegetable dishes...

              1 Reply
              1. re: yuanzhoulv

                Thanks to yuanzhoulv and the other posters. I wound up getting the mee siam--really tasty rice noodles with shrimp and tofu. The noodles were kind of pungent, which scared me at first, but it turned out to just be fish sauce. They were amazing with lime juice squeezed on top.

                My DCs and I also shared the steamed cuttlefish app. It was very much like squid--the chewy kind, not the crispy calamari variety. The cuttlefish was served in a thick, tasty peanut sauce on top of Chinese watercress.

                We finished up with the "ABC" dessert--a truly bizarre and awesome concoction of finely chipped ice, coconut milk, tapioca, black beans (!) and corn (!). It seems to be modeled after Taiwanese and Chinese desserts, which sometimes combine savory and sweet in that way.

                We ate tons of food, had lots of leftovers, and wound paying $15 per person including tax and a generous tip. That place is such a good deal!

              2. an enormous bowlful of curry mee with coconut milk-based broth is a wintertime fantasy. rice and egg noodles, several permutations of fried puffy tofu, shrimp-fish-paste-filled bitter melon, plump slices of eggplant, bean sprouts, fish balls, and lots of sinus-clearing spice.

                1 Reply
                1. re: liuliuliu

                  OMG, you had me at shrimp-paste filled bitter melon...I'm so in love! Must try it!