Having spent the past day feasting on some of the best food we’ve eaten in Malaysia so far in Taiping, we were looking forward to getting to Penang which has been dubbed as the food capital of the country.
Just a short bus journey away, we arrived in Butterworth in good time where we decided to purchase our onwards ticket to Thailand in a few days time. The reason being was that from Butterworth, we had to get a ferry over to Georgetown, Penang, and we wouldn’t be back until the day we were leaving and preferred to just sort a ticket out now.
After purchasing our ticket, we headed over to the ferry where we paid a very small fee to cross over to Penang. Once in Penang, we headed to our hostel which we had pre-booked via their Facebook page. When we turned up, the guy had disappointingly only booked one bed for us and it was the only spare bed they had. Slightly deflated, the hostel guy let us leave our bags at the hostel whilst we went off to find somewhere else to stay.
After viewing several guesthouses, we finally settled a private room above a restaurant which actually was cheaper than the one we had booked but not as nice.
Penang has plenty of hawker type stalls and with reviews, locals and other backpackers raving on about how good the food is in Penang, we were looking forward to our first meal in the town. We found a local restaurant and ordered a standard dish of chicken, rice and soup which was very tasty indeed.
In the evening, however, we headed to the largest outdoor food court which had a massive variety of food on offer. It looked very touristy and it seemed to be the place where ex-pats and tourists headed for food. There were a few locals but I get the feeling this is the place where most of the tourists eat.
We decided to get a drink before deciding what to eat, and in the spirit of trying local cuisines, John ordered a cendol off the drinks menu as we thought it was a local drink. What came instead was a rather large bowl of shaved ice, covered in coconut milk and sugar topped with kidney beans and green jelly noodles. We each had a few spoonfuls but it really wasn’t for us… a disappointing start for the food capital of Malaysia. We found out afterwards cendol was a popular southeast asian dessert but maybe its just one for the locals!
After slowly making our way round the stalls, I finally decided to try the frog congee cooked in a claypot. John wanted something a bit more familiar and ordered roast pork with rice from another stall. Whilst we were waiting for our food, an argument broke out at the stall where John had ordered food. It involved the neighbouring stall and went on for quite a while. My frog congee arrived in good time. I have never eaten frog before and it tasted a mix between chicken and fish. It was very tasty and when I pulled part of the rice-drenched frog, I noticed that the bones were in tact and its little legs could be seen, though this did not put me off my meal, it was too tasty.
Whilst I was devouring my rice porridge, the argument had escalated at the stall which resulted in the stall putting its shutters down and closing entirely without even a word to John that they would not be serving his food to him. Having sat there for the past 15 minutes or so watching me eat, John, by now, was getting moody (most probably because he was hungry) and after watching the stall shut down, he angrily walked off to order something else. He finally managed to eat a plate of chicken and rice with some soup.
It’s not been the best day in Penang, having been turned away from our pre-booked hostel, the disappointing cendol and the failure to deliver the food that John ordered, but there are worst things that happen so we don’t really have much to complain about. Fingers crossed tomorrow will be better and Penang can wow us with its food!