The familiar wheeled carts of street traders are still present in Georgetown, with their small plastic tables and chairs, the seemingly impromptu awning that keeps most of the rain at bay. Some are organised into cooperatives sharing a single shop front to store their carts during the day, this covered space is then used for seating and drinks sales at night, otherwise there are pitches designated for street food traders.
Throughout my time in Georgetown I only saw only one street vendor in Georgetown I didn’t want to eat from, the rest showed an excellent degree of cleanliness and awareness of their products. Georgetown was a joy to explore and eat.
Penang speciality: Wan tan mee –With light drizzle in the air the shelter of the closed hardware shops awning was most welcome, the impromptu awning keeps the vendor mostly dry, his crocs splashing in the streets small puddles show that he’s long given up on keeping his feet dry. The plastic seats are comfy enough to perch on, but require an angled stance when seated at the table to minimise the distance between the bowl and the mouth. Wan tan mee is available either dry or as a soup, quite dissimilar to each other. When served dry the yellow egg noodles are tossed with oyster, soy and sesame sauces, with some seasonal leaves, thin slices of char siu pork and a few pork and shrimp filled wontons. As a soup the same yellow egg noodles, leaves, char siu and wontons are submerged in a steaming hot and flavoursome broth. Both are excellent!
Penang speciality: Chendul – On the weekend, and at lunchtime the queue for this sweet ice cold coconut snack stretches for a hundred metres or more, a reasonable sized queue, 20 deep can be expected outside of those times. With good reason too! Chendul is the perfect afternoon pick me up, refreshing, cold and filing enough to be a snack between meals. The vibrant green rice noodles, and kidney beans that make the bulk of this snack are topped with crushed ice. A mix of palm sugar and coconut milk is poured on top, this sweet murky brown liquid dilutes and cools the chewy noodles and squishy beans as it melts the crushed ice creating an ice cold sweet soup, perfect for a hot sticky day.
The stalls can be small, with less set up than usual, a trestle table and a few trays under an awning. I liked the one serving Chiang Mai style satay cooked on a rustic little charcoal brazier, tender and juicy pork belly with a distinctive lime flavour served in a brown paper bag.
Dumplings can be quick and easy to grab, with a little dipping sauce. The warm ginger laden pork filling is flecked with cabbage and rice noodles, a simple easy snack.
I especially loved the fried chicken, with the stall set up across the lane from one of the cheaper late night drinking holes, a good piece of opportunistic stall placement. The crispy fried chicken was hard to pass up, double crumbed for extra crispness too.