Cafe Hopping and Street Food in Penang - Best Food Guide with a Budget

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cafe Hopping and Street Food in Penang Guide

Penang is a city that epitomises: "Never judge a book by it's cover". The facade and the exterior of their cafes might look dilapidated and shabby, but once you step inside them: WOW. It's like stepping into a Narnia wardrobe. 

Magical Doors

Almost all of their cafes are beautifully decorated and intricately adorned with interesting trinkets and art pieces. Each cafe has their own unique ambience and personality, making it a refreshingly addictive experience to cafe hop to as many as possible during our limited time in Penang.

In this travelogue, the Evilbean explores Georgetown, Penang and uncovers cafes and street food that are worth getting fat for. If you are planning a trip to Penang, you can follow my recommendations listed here to achieve a Cafe and Street Food budget of just RM 300 for 5 days!

#Day 1

1. Secawan 'n' Such

Secawan 'n' Such Cafe - Map Location

Penang Cafe - Secawan 'n' Such Interior

Perhaps inspired by the iconic wall murals and street art that are now part of the must-see streetscapes of Penang, Secawan 'n' Such also has two giant wall murals in the cafe that are the perfect canvas for taking your #ootd or Instagram shots. In fact, the cover photo of this blog post was taken in here as well!

Latte (RM 9.90), Matcha Latte (RM 9.90)

Secawan 'n' Such - Latte and Matcha Latte

The "cookie" that came along with the latte is actually not a cookie but a pastry that taste like mooncake! However, the latte did not leave a deep impression for me. The matcha latte was highly recommended by some of the blogs, but we found it to be too powdery and a little too milky.

Apple Crumble Smoothie (RM 14)

Secawan 'n' Such - Apple Crumble Smoothie

I have not had an apple crumble smoothie before, and WHOOO! THIS IS SUCH A WONDERFUL CONCOCTION! It is almost like an apple crumble dessert, but in smoothie form. Definitely one of the more interesting drinks I had in Penang!

Spicy Pork Chorizo with Poached Egg (RM 21.90)

Secawan 'n' Such - Spicy Pork Chorizo with Poached Egg

The black pepper, herbs and mushroom pomodoro sauce that went inside made this pasta really rich and flavourful!

Ms Bearnaise (RM 24.90)

Secawan 'n' Such - Ms Bearnaise

I half-expected that the meat in Miss Bearnaise to be bear meat, because I have not really heard of Bearnaise sauce before this.

Cute Bear Facepalm

English Muffin, Smoked Salmon, Poached Eggs and Bearnaise sauce makes up this Miss Bearnaise. I googled and found out that Bearnaise sauce is actually considered as a "child" of the mother Hollandaise sauce, the difference being that Bearnaise uses shallot, chervil, peppercorn, and tarragon, while Hollandaise uses lemon juice or white wine. 

This was good, but it is not something that is exceptionally interesting if you are a regular cafe-hopper.

Carrot Cake (RM 9.50)

Secawan 'n' Such - Carrot Cake

Although I am not a carrot cake fan, this was actually pretty good. The amount of flavours that you can taste from this are almost infinite: Raisins, cream cheese, walnuts, cinnamon and of course, carrots. Rich, dense and moist - all the qualities of a good cake all in one! Some blogs even crown this as one of the best carrot cake around!

Chocolate Mud (RM 9.50)

Secawan 'n' Such - Chocolate Mud

This chocolate mud bewitched me with her smooth, chocolate texture the moment I stepped into the cafe. I blame myself for being so easily enchanted because this was just too sweet and the chocolate was too milky to my liking. I better wear shades next time to ward off this evil seductive mudcake.

Cafe Rating (out of 5 Evilbeans):

- ORDER: Apple Crumble Smoothie (RM 14), Spicy Pork Chorizo with Poached Egg (RM 21.90), Carrot Cake (RM 9.50) = RM 45.40

Penang Cafe - Secawan 'n' Such

Secawan 'n' Such

205, Jalan Hutton, Georgetown, 
10050 Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Tel: +60 4-226 2182
Opening Hours: 

Tue - Sun: 8:00 am - 12:00 am
Closed on Mondays

2. Kedai Roti & Restoran Continental Bakery

Secawan Map - Continental Bakery

After Secawan 'n' Such, you can walk and explore around the area. Stop by this Kedai Roti & Restoran Continental Bakery for some really cheap breads. They must be good because we saw lots of locals going in and out this bakery with bags of breads.

Penang Bakery - Kedai Roti & Restoran Continental Bakery Breads

I bought the Wholemeal Kaya Bun and it tasted pretty good! 

Penang Bakery - Kedai Roti & Restoran Continental Bakery

Kedai Roti & Restoran Continental Bakery

33, Jalan Nagor
10050, Pulau Pinang
Tel: +60 4-228 3814

3. Sugar Dynasty 

Penang - Sugar Dynasty Map Location

Directly right opposite the bakery is a dessert shop called Sugar Dynasty. The decors in here are SUPER CUTE! I shall not spoil too much for you, so here is just a little glimpse:

Penang - Sugar Dynasty Interior
"Take your time to read the funny trinkets that are plastered on the wall!"

Ginko Beancurd with Barley (RM 5.90)

Penang Sugar Dynasty - Ginko Beancurd with Barley

This is really refreshing. You could almost feel that your body is that much healthier the moment you have this dessert! At only RM 5.90, this is a steal for a bowl of healthy goodness!

Penang - Sugar Dynasty

Sugar Dynasty (糖朝)

29, Jalan Nagor, 
10050 Pulau Pinang
Tel: +60 4-227 1163
Opening Hours:

Tue - Sun: 11:30 am –10:30 pm
Closed on Mondays

Penang - Kindori Ice Cream

While exploring Penang, you might come across some places selling this huge lollipop ice-cream. DO NOT BE AS NAIVE AS ME and buy this just because it is in the shape of a lollipop. At RM 4, this is daylight robbery as the taste do not justify its price.


Penang Street Food - Pancake and Steam Rice Cake

I am pretty sure the phrase "selling like hot cakes" came from this couple that sells these salty pancake and steam rice cake. Throngs and throngs of people came by their cart and bought dozens of them at one go! This motorcycle uncle bought at least 20. Fear Emoji

We tried the pan cake, and it tasted like "Hum Jin Peng"... without the filling. At only RM 0.80, this is a good snack to munch on while exploring around. I WISH YOU ALL THE LUCK IN SPOTTING THEM!

4. Moustache Houze Cafe

Penang - Moustache Houze Location Map

With a name like Moustache Houze, I could not help but to imagine the cafe to be full of beards, shavers, shaving creams and just full of hair:


I moust-ache-mit I was wrong. THE INTERIOR DECOR WAS AWESOME!

Penang Moustache Houze Cafe - Interior

Penang Moustache Houze Cafe - Interior 2

Penang Moustache Houze Cafe - Interior 3

Swing seats, sofa seats, couch seats - all of them looked so cozy and comfortable to sit! Being moustache-themed, every little thing in the cafe was adorned with the symbolic moustache shape. They even have giant moustaches props for you to take pictures with!

Matcha Ice Cube with Milk (RM 12.90)

Penang Moustache Houze Cafe - Matcha Ice Cube

Yes, just like what my Instagram caption described, this Matcha Ice Cube with Milk is not only fun to play with, it also has a rich matcha flavour without being overbearingly sweet. The ability to control your desired level of milkiness is a genius idea! 

Truffle Cheesecake (RM 12.90)
 Penang Moustache Houze Cafe - Truffle Cheesecake

It was my birthday, so I got this super awesomes chocolate plating that came along with the truffle cheesecake. If you want this as well....... You can always fake your birthday. 

I have never seen truffle being infused into a cheesecake before, so this was like a let's-give-it-a-try thing. The taste was really interesting as it is a mix of the sweetness from the cheesecake and the distinct truffle aroma. One thing is for certain: This goes really well with the Matcha latte.

The cafe ambience gets a huge plus from me with its intricate decorations, and a retro soundtrack that makes you feel like time has come to a stand still. One of the must visit cafes if you visit Penang!

Cafe Rating (out of 5 Evilbeans):

- ORDER: Matcha Ice Cube with Milk (RM 12.90), Truffle Cheesecake (RM 12.90) = RM 25.80

Penang Moustache Houze Cafe

Moustache Houze 

24, Campbell Street,
10100 Georgetown, Penang
Tel: +60 4-262 2228
Opening Hours:

Mon - Sun: 12:00 pm –12:00 am

Total food expenses for Day 1: RM 85.90

#Day 2

1. Red Hat Auntie's Penang Char Kway Teow

Penang Location Map - Kafe Heng Huat

We walked past this Char Kway Teow (CKT) store the first day we step foot in Penang. Not knowing this was one of the famous CKT in Penang, we stared at the price in wide-eyed disbelief:

"Wtf RM 12 for a plate?!"

"Must be super nice?"

"No, this must be a place one of those touristy places that rips tourists off, let's go."

Back at the hotel that night, we researched for some of the must try street food in Penang and this popped out.

We LOL-ed.

Hanging our heads low in shame, we went back to find this Red Hat Auntie the next day.

Red Hat Auntie's Penang Char Kway Teow

And this is seriously, one of the street food that is a MUST TRY in Penang.

Red Hat Auntie's Penang Char Kway Teow

JUST LOOK AT THIS GLISTENING PLATE OF KWAY TEOW! I am salivating as I write this. 

I exclaimed: "OOOH SO NICE!" the moment I put this Penang Char Kway Teow in my mouth. The noodles exudes a very fragrant wok aroma that can only come from a seasoned wok, and it is flavourfully packed with a myriad of spiciness and sweetness! The best thing? The prawns are PEELED and the shit is removed! Hooray for lazy people!

Unlike the CKT versions in Singapore where it is mostly stir-fried in black sweet sauce, Penang's CKT omits the black sauce and loads it with oil. The Red Hat Auntie also uses charcoal stove rather than a gas stove, giving the noodles that extra wok aroma that can awaken all your senses.

When dining in here, there is one rule that you must abide to: You need to order a beverage from them as part of the "fee" for using their tables. If not, you would need to pay RM 0.50 per table. Rather than paying, it is much smarter to just order a drink from them as you get something tangible for your ringgit in return.

Food Rating (out of 5 Evilbeans):

- ORDER: Char Kway Teow (RM 12)

Kafe Heng Huat - Char Kway Teow

Red Hat Auntie's Penang Char Kway Teow

(In front of Kafe Heng Huat)
108, Lorong Selamat, 
10400 Pulau Pinang.
Opening Hours: 

11:00 am - 4.30 pm  
Closed on Tuesdays

2. 70's Ice

Penang Location Map - 70's Ice

Penang 70's Ice - Ice Ball

This is something which 70's and 80's kids might be familiar with - the ice ball! The way to eat this is to suck the juice, flip it to refill the ice ball with the syrup from the tray, repeat till the ball is gone or until your lips are frozen from sucking.

You have gotta try this for nostalgic sake!

P.S: The Ribena and Sarsi flavours are pretty good!

70's Ice Penang

70's Ice

78, Lebuh Armenian, 
10200 George Town, Malaysia
Tel: +60 16-470 3038
Opening Hours:

Tues - Fri: 10:45 am – 6:00 pm
Sat: 10:45 am –10:00 pm
Sun: 10:45 am –6:00 pm

3. Jawi House Cafe Gallery

Penang Location Map - Jawi House Cafe Gallery

Located inside the heritage area of Georgetown, this cafe gallery showcases Malaysian and Asian heritage crafts on the second floor of the cafe. Equally interesting is their food menu, which claims to serves authentic and traditional Jawi Peranakan cuisine. 

The copious amount of potted plants and greenery might make you feel like you are dining in a forest though.

Jawi House Cafe Gallery - Interior

Penang Nutmeg (RM 8) and Arabian Sherbet (RM 8)

Jawi House Cafe Gallery - Penang Nutmeg and Arabian Sherbet

We tried 2 of the most interesting drinks on their menu. Called Colonial Cold Specials, we had the Penang Nutmeg that is served with honey and lime, and Arabian Sherbet that is served with rose syrup, malva nut, gum resin, basil seeds and milk.

We expected the drinks to be either very herbal and nutty or very heavy in spices. I was so prepared to be 50-shades-of-grey by the drinks - being choked and being overwhelmed by the stated interesting ingredients. Disappointingly, the drinks were pretty mild in taste.

Herbal Lemuni Rice (RM 16)

Jawi House Cafe Gallery - Lemuni Rice

The description for this rice is really interesting:

Herbal Lemuni Rice (Vitex Trifolia), is cooked in coconut milk, onions, garlic, ginger lemon grass and tualang flowers (clitoria ternetea), served with chicken curry, egg, cucumber and talang salt fish (queenfish) sambal used to be a traditional post-partum or confinement dish served to Malay women by their mothers. Lemuni enhances blood flow, balances hormones and restores the digestive system to normal. Today it is also a favourite of Malay men. Lemuni is featured in W.J.Karim’s book, Feasts of Penang: Muslim Culinary Heritage, MPH, 2013) in Chapter 4 on Rice.

I had high expectations on this rice after reading the description, but alas, this cafe can be called Mild Jawi House Cafe Gallery. The flavours were not strong enough and the sambal chili was towards the salty side without any spicy kick. 

My palette tends to prefer food that are richer and heavier in taste, so the food here were a little underwhelming for me. However, if you like your food to be mild, this restored forest.. I mean shophouse, is a good place to take a short break before you continue onwards to the Chew Jetty.

Cafe Rating (out of 5 Evilbeans):

- ORDER: Arabian Sherbet (RM 8)

Jawi House Cafe Gallery

Jawi House Cafe Gallery

85, Armenian Street, Georgetown
10200, Penang Malaysia
Tel: +60 4-261 3680
Opening Hours:

Daily (except Tue):  11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Closed on Tuesdays

4. Ming Xiang Tai Pastry Shop (名香泰餅家)

Penang Location Map - Ming Xiang Tai Pastry Shop

Amidst the dozens and dozens of confectionery pastry shops in Penang, this got our attention with a cute retro trishaw right outside its shop... which makes you wanna buy their Trishaw Egg Tart. SUCH A CLEVER MARKETING GIMMICK.

Trishaw Egg Tart (RM 1.80), Fetal Chrysanthemum Goji Tea (RM 6), Luo Han Guo Herbal Jelly (RM 7)

Ming Xiang Tai Pastry Shop - Trishaw Egg Tart, Fetal Chrysanthemum Goji Tea, Luo Han Guo Herbal Jelly

The weather is scorching hot in Penang. You need to constantly hydrate yourself in order to stay fit and healthy for the rest of your trip. Herbal teas and herbal jellies (or Gui Ling Gao) should be sent to your body every once in awhile for that nutritional boost. 

The chrysanthemum tea is served in a pretty glass bottle, showing the amount of herbs that went into the drink. The bitter-sweet combination of honey and luo han guo is a refreshing afternoon treat that is good for your body by clearing the heatiness. 

The trishaw egg tart is crispy, flaky goodness on the outside and sweet custard texture on the inside. The retro decor in the shop itself is also an attraction by itself with the wooden tables and benches. Very photo-worthy!

Cafe Rating (out of 5 Evilbeans):

- ORDER: Trishaw Egg Tart (RM 1.80), Fetal Chrysanthemum Goji Tea (RM 6), Luo Han Guo Herbal Jelly (RM 7) = RM 14.80

Penang - Ming Xiang Tai Pastry Shop (名香泰餅家)

Ming Xiang Tai Pastry Shop (名香泰餅家- 包德馆)

26 Armenian Street Ghaut 
10200 Penang
Tel: +60 4-261 9887
Opening Hours:

Mon - Fri: 10:00 am - 9:00 pm
Sat - Sun: 9:00 am - 9:00 pm

5. The Alley Cafe

Penang Location Map - The Alley Cafe

I like their cafe hashtag. Instead of trying to be that 'atas' (high class) hipster cafe, they call themselves the #lolongkia, which I suppose is Malay for Alley People? Very local, the Evilbean approves!

Penang - The Alley Cafe Interior

Latte (RM 12)

Penang: The Alley Cafe - Latte

One of the best lattes I had in Penang! A house blend of Brazil + Sumatra Gayo G1, the taste profile of the coffee is chocolaty, citrus and herbal with a medium body. Aromatic with a smooth froth, this was the perfect complement to the drizzling weather outside.

Cronut with Salted Caramel (RM 9), Churros (S) with Nutella (RM 6)

Penang: The Alley Cafe - Cronut and Churros

First Cronut in my life, drenched in salted caramel sauce and a handful of caramelised peanuts! Made even more sinful with Churros with Nutella dip. 

Total additional weight gain: +5kg 
Sinful Level: 8769 

Might I add this plating can totally be printed and sold as an art piece?

Cafe Rating (out of 5 Evilbeans):

- ORDER: Latte (RM 12), Cronut (RM 9), Churros (RM 6) = RM 27

Penang - The Alley Cafe

The Alley Cafe

5, Stewart Lane, 
10200 George Town, Malaysia
Tel: +60 4-261 3879
Opening Hours:

Mon - Sun: 12:00 pm – 12:00 am

Total food expenses for Day 2: RM 61.80

Let your belly take a break from food by going on this historical tour around Georgetown. The tour takes about 3.5 hours and you will get to see places like:

- Fort Cornwallis
- Chew Jetty
- Street of Harmony
- State Museum
- Wat Chayamangkalaram

Check out the tour details here.

Find out my personal recommendation on the MUST-GO CAFE in Penang with: Cafe Hopping and Street Food in Penang PART 2

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    355,357&359, Lebuh Chulia 10200 Pulau Pinang
    04-261 3809



    KH :)


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