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Feb 1, 2012 06:42 AM

Penang, Malaysia - A Taste of Penang Soul Food at Kimberley Street

Penang has many food streets - the famous New Lane (intersection with MacAlister Road), Carnarvon Street (with its numerous coffeshops or kopitians which do brisk business in the mornings & lunch-time), Chulia Street (its night-time street-side hawker stalls), and many others.

But my fave is Kimberley Street (or Lebuh Kimberley) - Penangites called it "Swatow-kay" or Swatow street, as many Teochew immigrants from Swatow province in China migrated here for the past two centuries. I particularly liked the cluster of streetside hawker stalls which started appearing at dusk near the intersection with Rope Walk (Jalan Pintal Tali).

Most of these stalls are run by second- or third-generation hawkers, and had been here since World War II. My faves are:

- Char koay teow stall. One of the best on the island. Order a plate with duck's egg added, it's richer in taste and the "wok hei" of the fried rice noodles with prawns, Chinese sausages, sprouts and chives is mind-blowing;

- Koay chiap - my first choice whenever I come here. Coarse, thick handmade noodles in a flavorsome dark brew, into which chopped pig's skin, intestines, coagulated pig's blood, liver, duck-meat, hard-boiled egg and many other delicacies were added. It's Penang soul food - super-delicious;

- Koay teow th'ng or rice noodles in chicken/pork consomme - delicate, subtle and light. This stall also served braised chicken feet as a side - again, the flavors imparted were simply mind-blowing: the delicate, semi-gelatinous chicken feet were flavored thru with a soysauce/5-spice/herbal stew. Intoxicating ;-)

- Chng teng or Chinese dessert stall which offered traditional Teochew/Chiuchow sweet, syrupy dessert soups with longan, lotus seeds, red beans, etc.

This was what Singapore used to be - colorful side-streets packed with life, hawker stalls offering simply great food, using recipes passed down through 60-70 years. I felt like I'd died and gone to foodie heaven :-D

Hawker stalls at Kimberley Street
137 Lebuh Kimberley, George Town, Pulau Pinang 10100, MY

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  1. Every stall which you mentioned here has been around since I was a boy. I'm now a grandfather!

    I also liked to go to Goh Huat Seng on the same street for Teochew food, and Foo Heong around the corner for Cantonese sar hor fun and yee fu mee.

    1. The Koay Chiap stall's business volume seemed to have tripled when I was there last week!

      But the quality was still peerless - lovely "koay chiap" noodle texture; soft, pliable pig's intestines (I especially love the big intestines); generous helping's of pig's blood pudding; that perfect soy-marinated hard-boiled egg, the tasty duck-meat - I felt like I'd died and gone to heaven :-D

      1 Reply
      1. re: klyeoh

        Yes, the seating space is now provided by Lo Yau Kee dessert shop who's taken over the shophouse at No. 71, Kimberley Street.

      2. Planning a first ever trip to Penang in February, and this seems like a great place to try a good selection of dishes. You descriptions and photos sound and look amazing! I have a feeling your latest flurry of Penang posts are going to be rather helpful :D

        Are these stalls open for lunch and dinner, 7 days? How accessible are they for English speakers? I can read a little Chinese, but probably not enough to be much use :)

        1 Reply
        1. re: GordonS

          The Kimberley Street streetside stalls are only open in the evenings - not sure if they close on Mondays (when business is traditionally slower), although Bee Hooi Coffeeshop on Kimberley St will be open for lunch.

          Most Penangites (including street hawkers) will speak English, though you'll encounter different levels of fluency. It's not as bad as in HK,Taipei, Seoul or Tokyo where the street vendors there can hardly speak any English at all.

          For foreign visitors, the most popular food court (only open in the evenings) is Red Garden

          For local Penangites, the most popular during lunch-time is New World Park on Burma Road (, whereas one of the most popular in the evening is the cluster of street stalls at the corner of MacAlister Road and New Lane (