Malaysia, I Like to Eat on the Street

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Last Updated on April 22, 2024 by Audrey Scott

We don't know about you, but when we think Malaysia we think street food. And hawker centers (awful name, but that's what they're called) are where the action is for street food fanatics like us.

Penang street food at Gurney hawker center
Endless choices of street food on offer at the Gurney Drive Hawker Center in Penang, Malaysia.

Plastic tables and chairs are laid out in the center and an overwhelming choice of street food stalls circle 'round. Each usually serves only one or two dishes — the chef's specialty. There is no need to diversify, for each cook sticks with what he does best while letting the others do the rest.

Take a lap around, scope out the stands surrounded by the biggest crowds of locals, and figure out your eating strategy for the evening.

Perhaps start with some Penang curry mee (coconut milk based soup) or char kway teow (fried noodles) and them move on to sambal satong (squid and okra in a sambal sauce) and finish off with some cendol (crushed ice and coconut milk dessert).

And the proverbial icing on the cake after a delicious multi-course feast like this? Your wallet is only a few dollars lighter.

Compare prices of hotels in Penang, Malaysia.

About Daniel Noll
Travel and life evangelist. Writer, speaker, storyteller and consultant. Connecting people to experiences that will change their lives. Originally from the U.S. Daniel has lived abroad since 2001 and most recently has been on the road since 2006. When he's not writing for the blog you can keep up with his adventures on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. And you can learn more about him on the About Page and on LinkedIn.

10 thoughts on “Malaysia, I Like to Eat on the Street”

  1. You can’t beat the Lemon Chicken and BBQ ribs in Penang. My boyfriend and I went around the world, ate whatever we could get our hands on, all different kinds of cuisine and we are STILL talking about the Penang Street Food!


  2. Now that made me hungry! It’s lunch time and I’m nowhere near Malaysian food. 🙁 Guess I’ll have a sandwich.

  3. This panorama is fantastic. I love putting a visual to the description. I’ve had curry mee before, but it was Americanized. I’ll definitely have to try the real thing if I go to Malaysia.

  4. @Pam: I love that panorama as well. That was such a neat barbershop.

    @Jennifer: We also got hungry writing this and thinking about all our great Malaysian food experiences. There’s nothing Malaysian here in Prague, so we had to settle for pizza.

    @Krista: Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore perhaps get top prizes for delicious and cheap street food – this region is a foodie’s dream.

    @Johanna: Penang’s food scene is fantastic – the Chinese, Malay and Indian influences really make for endless eating opportunities.

    @Andi: We also wished we could be transported to this street food center for dinner when we made this! As for how difficult it is to create these panoramas, we’ll be publishing something on that in the near future. We use a fisheye (8mm) lens and some special stitching software. If you have the right gear, it’s pretty easy to do.

    @Rebekah: We did have some decent laksa at a Malaysian place in Washington, DC recently, but there’s nothing like the real deal from a stand in Malaysia. Enjoy!

    @Michael: We spent many an evening in this area trying new dish each time. So good.

  5. It doesn’t matter where you’re eating whether you’re in the comfort of your own home, in a nice, cozy restaurant, or in the side walk. The important thing is the food that you’re eating. It has to be delicious. From what I’ve read, Malaysian street food seems tempting. I’d love to try it one day.

  6. @Adam: Malaysian food is terrific. And the hawker stands are really just the beginning. Once you get into the Malaysian restaurant scene (with Malaysian, Indonesian, Chinese, and Indian options), it’s about how much time you have to cover it all.


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