Penang is a food haven for Expats, offering a diverse range of cuisine that reflects the city’s multicultural heritage. From traditional local dishes to international flavours, there’s something for everyone. This guide aims to help Expats navigate Penang’s food scene and discover the best restaurants in the city.
Penang’s food scene
Penang is known as the food capital of Malaysia, and it’s not hard to see why. The island is home to a diverse range of cultures, which has resulted in a rich and varied food scene. From traditional Malay dishes to Chinese and Indian cuisine, there is something for everyone in Penang.
One of the most famous dishes in Penang is the Char Koay Teow, which is a stir-fried noodle dish that is cooked with soy sauce, chilli, prawns, and bean sprouts. Another popular dish is the Nasi Kandar, which is a rice dish that is typically served with a variety of curries and side dishes.
In addition to these traditional dishes, Penang also offers a range of Western and fusion cuisine. Many Expats are drawn to the island for its affordable and delicious food, and the relaxed atmosphere of the street food scene is a big draw for many.
Whether you’re looking for a quick bite to eat or a sit-down meal, Penang has something to suit every taste and budget.
Why this guide is important for expats
As an Expat in Penang, it can be overwhelming to navigate the food scene and find the best places to eat. With so many options available, it can be difficult to know where to start. This guide aims to simplify the process and provide you with a list of the best restaurants in Penang for Expats.
Whether you’re looking for Western cuisine, Asian dishes, Halal food, or vegetarian and vegan options, we’ve got you covered. We understand that as an Expat, you may have different dietary requirements or preferences than locals, which is why we’ve curated a list specifically for you.
Additionally, we’ve included an overview of Penang’s food scene and explanations of different types of cuisine to help you better understand the culinary culture of this vibrant city. We hope that this guide will make your food journey in Penang a little bit easier and more enjoyable!
Top Western Restaurants in Penang
Penang is known for its diverse food scene, and that includes a range of Western cuisine options. From Italian to American-style burgers, there’s something for everyone. Here are the top 5 Western restaurants in Penang for Expats:
- The Bungalow is a fine dining restaurant located in Batu Ferringhi. It offers a range of international cuisine, including Western dishes like steak and seafood. The restaurant is also known for its elegant atmosphere and beautiful views of the ocean.
- The Safe Room, also located in Georgetown, is a speakeasy-style bar that serves up American-style burgers, sandwiches, and fries. The restaurant’s decor is inspired by the Prohibition era, and there’s even a secret entrance to the bar.
- Via Pre is an Italian restaurant located in Georgetown. It offers a range of classic Italian dishes, including pizza and pasta. The restaurant is known for its authentic flavours and cozy atmosphere.
- The Canteen At ChinaHouse is a casual dining restaurant located in Georgetown. It offers a range of international cuisine, including Western dishes like burgers and sandwiches. The restaurant is also known for its live music performances and quirky decor.
- Wheeler’s Coffee – This cozy cafe in Georgetown not only serves delicious Western food but also has a great selection of coffee and desserts. Their menu includes burgers, sandwiches, pasta, and salads.
- Ferringhi Grill – Located in Batu Ferringhi, this restaurant is perfect for a fine dining experience. They offer a variety of Western dishes, including steaks, seafood, and vegetarian options. The restaurant also has a great selection of wine to complement your meal.
- Healy Mac’s Irish Bar and Restaurant – If you’re in the mood for some Irish pub food, this restaurant in Straits Quay is the place to go. They serve classic pub grub like fish and chips, burgers, and shepherd’s pie. They also have a wide selection of beer and other drinks. Top
Asian Restaurants in Penang
Tek Sen Restaurant
18-20, Carnarvon St, George Town, 10100 George Town, Penang
+60 4-261 3754
Sri Ananda Bahwan
South Indian Cuisine
55, Lebuh Penang, George Town, 10200 George Town, Penang
+60 4-261 3644
Nasi Kandar Line Clear
177, Jalan Penang, Georgetown, 10000 George Town, Penang
+60 4-261 4440
Red Garden Food Paradise
20, Leith St, George Town, 10200 George Town, Penang
+60 4-262 3767
Miraku Japanese Restaurant
G Hotel, 168A, Persiaran Gurney, 10250 George Town, Penang
+60 4-229 8702
164A, Lebuh Campbell, George Town, 10100 George Town, Pulau Pinang
+60 4-261 1095
Kebaya Dining Room
2, Lebuh Farquhar, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang
+60 4-263 8388
Top Halal Restaurants in Penang
For those who are not familiar with Halal food, it is food that is prepared according to Islamic dietary guidelines. This means that the food must not contain any pork or alcohol products, and the meat must be prepared in a particular way. In Penang, there are many Halal restaurants that cater to the Muslim population, but these restaurants are also open to non-Muslims.
- Restoran Nasi Kandar Line Clear
- Restoran Tajuddin Hussain
- Restoran Nasi Padang Minang: This restaurant serves authentic Indonesian cuisine, with a focus on the Padang region. Their nasi padang (rice with various dishes) is a must-try, as well as their rendang (slow-cooked beef in coconut milk).
- Kapitan: This Indian-Muslim restaurant is famous for their tandoori chicken and naan bread. They also serve a variety of other dishes such as biryani, murtabak, and roti canai.
- Hajjah Aini: This restaurant serves traditional Malay dishes such as nasi lemak, mee rebus, and laksa. Their signature dish is the nasi tomato (tomato rice) served with ayam masak merah (spicy tomato chicken).
- Hameediyah Restaurant: This restaurant has been around since 1907 and is renowned for their murtabak and nasi kandar. They also serve a variety of curries and roti canai.
- Nasir Kandar Beratur: This restaurant is known for its long queue during peak hours, but it’s definitely worth the wait. They serve delicious nasi kandar with a variety of dishes to choose from.
Top Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in Penang
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, Penang has plenty of options for you too. Here are the top 5 vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Penang:
- Pinxin Vegan Cuisine: Located in Georgetown, Pinxin Vegan Cuisine offers a wide range of vegan dishes, from soups and salads to noodles and rice dishes. Their menu includes both Chinese and Western-style vegan cuisine.
- Real Food is a vegetarian restaurant that offers a variety of dishes made with organic and natural ingredients. Their menu includes vegan options as well.
- Leaf Healthy House is a vegan cafe that offers a variety of healthy, plant-based dishes. Their menu includes smoothie bowls, salads, and sandwiches.
- Woodlands Vegetarian Restaurant: If you’re craving Indian food, Woodlands Vegetarian Restaurant is the place to go. They offer a variety of vegetarian and vegan Indian dishes.
- Yummy Vegetarian Food is a vegan restaurant that offers a variety of Asian-style vegan dishes, including noodles, rice dishes, and mock meat.
- The Mugshot Cafe is a popular spot for both locals and Expats, and they have a great selection of vegetarian and vegan options. Their breakfast menu is especially popular, with options like avocado toast and vegan pancakes. They also have a small grocery section where you can pick up vegan snacks and treats.
- Pinxin Vegan Cuisine: If you’re looking for traditional Chinese food, Pinxin Vegan Cuisine is the place to go. They offer a variety of plant-based dim sum and noodle dishes, as well as some Western options like vegan pizza. The restaurant is located in George Town, and the prices are very reasonable.
- Sushi Kitchen is a Japanese-inspired vegan restaurant that serves up sushi rolls, noodle dishes, and bento boxes. The restaurant is located in Batu Ferringhi, and the prices are very reasonable. They also offer delivery and takeout options.
- Rainbow Cafe is a cozy vegetarian cafe located in Tanjung Bungah. They offer a variety of vegan and vegetarian dishes, including burgers, wraps, salads, and smoothies. They also have a small grocery section where you can pick up vegan snacks and treats.
Final Thoughts on Penang’s food scene for Expats
Penang’s food scene is a melting pot of different cuisines, reflecting its diverse cultural heritage. Whether you’re a fan of Western, Asian, halal, or vegetarian/vegan cuisine, there are plenty of options for expats to choose from in Penang.
From the top Western restaurants like That Little Wine Bar and Ferringhi Grill, to the top Asian restaurants like Tek Sen and Kapitan, to the top halal restaurants like Nasi Kandar Line Clear and Restoran Kapitan Keling, and to the top vegetarian/vegan restaurants like Sushi Kitchen and Real Food, there’s something for everyone.
Make sure to try out all the different types of food Penang has to offer during your stay and don’t be afraid to venture out and try new things. You never know what delicious surprises you might find!
Note: Some of the info here are derived from AI. As such it may not be 100% accurate but it is always a good idea to do your own due diligence.