Penang Restaurants and Dining

(Penang, Federal Territory, Malaysia)

Waterfront viewCuisine connoisseurs will be enthralled with Penang's offerings, with the island's multicultural make-up providing a wealth of tastes to choose from when it comes to dining out. Dishes popular throughout Penang include Malay, Chinese, Middle Eastern and Indian specialties, while international fast-food chains, eateries and restaurants serving French, Italian and Japanese, among others, are also in abundance.

Visitors should be sure and try the island's 'hawker food', which is usually just as delicious as the cuisine found in any fine dining restaurant on Penang. Hawker stalls are available on most streets and operate until late.

Photo of popular local Hai Nan Town eatery

When to Eat / Opening Hours

On Penang most restaurants are generally open all hours of the day, for breakfast, lunch and dinner services. However it's important to note that during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown for a month. This means eating, drinking and smoking are not permitted during daylight hours. Visitors will find most restaurants closed until the evening, although at the end of each day's fast, eateries come alive and serve large spreads of special foods.

Further image of the Hai Nan Town restaurant

What to Eat

With Malay, Indian and Chinese comprising the majority of the island's multiethnic population, their cultures' tasty and internationally-renowned dishes are found virtually everywhere on Penang, in eateries of all price-ranges and styles. Malay dishes are known for being flavourful and spicy, and are comprised of a variety of herbs and spices. Chinese cuisine is also a staple on Penang, with Cantonese dishes, spicy Szechuan and local specialties reflecting the island's Hainanese, Hokkien and Teochew heritage, all widely available at street vendors and pricey restaurants alike. Indian-style dining is also on offer here and includes Moghul dishes that are typical of northern Indian food, as well as the spicy delights of southern India.

Picture of marina

Where to Eat

As a sure sign of the quality of Penang's cuisine, travellers from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are known to head to the island regularly simply to enjoy the many culinary delights on offer. On the budget side of the dining offerings is Penang's hawker fare, but visitors shouldn't let its price and appearance deter them from indulging. Simple stalls with a few tables and chairs strewn on the road often serve dishes that rival the best in the world.

Hawker stalls can be found all over the island of Penang, in the historic streets of Georgetown, Chinatown, down Lebuh Kimberly and Lebuh Cintra. These areas are also home to a wealth of coffee shops and quality Chinese restaurants known for good local dishes. To enjoy hawker dishes in the comfort of air-conditioning, the food court at office and shopping complex KOMTAR has many choices, as well as a variety of more upmarket restaurants. Other areas with great hawker fare include Jalan Penang, Lebuh Chulia, Gurney Drive and the suburban districts of Air Itam and Pulau Tikus.

Photograph taken alongside the marinaFor visitors in search of ambiance to match with fine dining, there is a wealth of upmarket establishments to suit all tastes. Penang's five-star resorts and hotels are a great place to start, as they all feature a wide range of fine restaurants, with Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Italian and Malay being among the more popular dining themes.

As with most travel destinations, many of Penang's finest restaurants can be found in the tourist hotspots, with beach resorts providing ample opportunity to enjoy a selection of the region's tasty seafood in a lovely seaside setting. Georgetown, being the island's commercial centre and capital, is also a great place to go for an intimate dining experience. Café culture has also taken hold of Penang, with the island featuring plenty of hip and trendy coffee joints suitable for an afternoon cup of coffee and a sweet snack.