In 2014 Lonely Planet rated Penang Malaysia as the top food destination in the entire world. And we will show you Penang’s best international cuisine! We are going to eat our way around the world, trying the cuisine from 14 different countries right here in Penang. We’ll give a sneak preview of Malaysian food here, but the Malaysian food is so extraordinary that it get’s it’s own blog post which you can read here.
(Click the link below if you would rather watch a video with all of the same information that is in this article: Penang’s Best International Cuisine).
Let’s start off with China. You can find Chinese food just about everywhere in Penang. We had some terrific Chinese food at the New World Food court. The Chinese food here is not like what we get back home in the U.S. This is much more authentic. We really enjoyed the dumplings here, and these were so good that we got a second order. And the steam buns were delicious too. Thank you to the Chinese community here for making such wonderful food.
We’re going to France next, and we are going to eat at Two Frenchies in George Town. We went here to celebrate my wife’s birthday. They have an amazing meat and cheese plate that could easily be shared or be a whole meal. We also really enjoyed the quiche lorraine, it was so buttery and delicious. Even better was the turkey ham sandwich, with the cheese melted right on top of the bread. But the best part of our meal was the dessert, with the pastry stuffed with ice cream and with a chocolate sauce. This was fabulous.
Let’s go to India and visit D-Tandoor. This is a chain restaurant with great food, located in the Island Plaza area. My wife had some great samosas and a delicious tangy potato salad. I had chicken badami pasanda and the sauce was so good, a kind of yogurt curry flavor. But my favorite thing here was this green, minty flavored dipping sauce for the bread. I would come back just for that dipping sauce.
Italy is up next and we loved Via Pre in George Town. They have a great deal with their lunch specials for around 25 ringet (or about US$6). The pizza here was delicious and it was huge. And the pasta with a chicken skewer and a salad was also a huge portion. The orange juice was so fresh and so good, it reminded me of Morocco. And I’ve never had apple juice like this one we had here, with such a strong and delicious flavor. We will definitely be coming back to Via Pre before we leave Penang.
This the article focuses on Penang’s best international cuisine. But the local food here is equally notable. Like I mentioned at the beginning, we have a whole separate post on rating Malaysian food here. But I can’t write this article without mentioning nasi kandar. This is a dish that originated right here in Penang Malaysia, and the best thing about it is the mix of curry sauces that get put together on the rice. So delicious!
There are two Mexican restaurants we’ll tell you about, both in George Town. The first is Holy Guacamole, and the best thing we had here was the appetizer dip to go with our tortilla chips. This 5 layer taco dip had delicious cream cheese and shredded cheese, with salsa mixed in. We also had a great burrito here that I would definitely get again.
The second Mexican restaurant is Mr. Flacko, I think the food here has a little bit more of an Asian fusion, but still really good. My favorite thing here was the breakfast burrito, filled with egg and sausage. The nacho fries were also really good, as well as the mushroom tacos which is something a little unusual but delicious.
We love Mexican food and are glad that the Mexican restaurants here are among Penang’s best international cuisine!
Portugal is up next and we are going to Nandos. This restaurant is in the Gurney Plaza mall. It specializes in peri-peri chicken, which has roots in both Portugal and Africa. The peri-peri seasoning is made from an African chili pepper and comes in several different varieties. We got the lemon herb chicken and it had such a good flavor, and such a unique flavor. And if you really like the food here you can buy the seasonings and sauces in the restaurant to take home with you.
Yes, you can get Swedish food in Penang, but we didn’t get our Swedish fix at a typical restaurant. We headed to IKEA, the furniture store. It’s a bit of trek to get there (IKEA is on the mainland, not on the island), but for us it made a fun day trip with a tasty reward for the effort. We love Swedish meatballs!
I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Syrian restaurant before in my life, so it was fun for us to go to Halab. The restaurant is in the heart of Georgetown and we went here on my birthday! The food here was great, and I really loved the chicken shawarma. They cook the meat over a wood fire grill. But the best thing was the chocolate! I had the best chocolate milk shake. What a great way to celebrate my birthday.
The border with Thailand is actually not to far from here, and there are several great Thai restaurants in Penang. We enjoyed the Tree Monkey restaurant. It’s up in the north part of the island and has some nice ocean views. It’s very popular, you might want to make a reservation here. My pineapple fried rice came in an actual pineapple! And the sweet and sour chicken was also delicious.
Next is Turkey, and we went to Rubin Mardini. This is a restaurant that is also up in the northern part of Penang Island. The restaurant has a wide variety of Turkish and Arabic dishes, and the chicken was so good! Definitely my favorite chicken so far. And the falafel was also delicious. And the humus was even more delicious! I really think we’ll be coming back here again.
Let’s go to the U.K. next and eat at Emily’s Steakhouse. This is a British steakhouse with two locations in Malaysia. And my wife’s name is Emily, so how could we not come here, right? I had a delicious BBQ chicken dish. And Emily had a burger, but this wasn’t your typical ground beef burger. This was made out of slices of steak, and also with mushrooms and melted cheese.
Now it’s time to go home, to our home country, the U.S., and we have two places to tell you about for American food. One of these is our favorite and one is our least favorite.
We’ll start off with Chili’s which is a classic American chain restaurant. The reason we came here is that we had just finished a long (but a good) doctor’s appointment and we were looking for some comfort food. The meals here about half the price for the exact same food as Chili’s back home. And the portions are huge, just like back home. But really, to us as American’s this was nothing special, and because of that, I’ll have to say this was our least favorite.
The next American place is Smoke Papa BBQ located in the Jetty Food court, and wow! I can’t say enough good things about the food here. The meats are smoked right there and have the delicious smoky flavor like a real American BBQ should be. But the great thing about this place are the people who run the place. They are so friendly and they will explain everything you want to know about the menu. We have been back here several times, and this is our number one pick, our favorite place and our favorite food in Penang. This is Penang’s best international cuisine, at least as far as I’m concerned!
And the last country is Vietnam and the Indochine Café, which is in the Northeastern part of Penang Island. This restaurant has great food, and a lot of expats meet up here. And they have food not just from Vietnam, but also from Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos. The banh mi, which is a Vietnamese pork sandwich, was fantastic. And the pho, which is a beef soup, was equally delicious. We have been to this restaurant many times now and have become friends with the owner.
So there’s a sample of the Penang’s best international cuisine. There are other restaurants with international cuisine that we haven’t visited yet, including Bulgarian, German, Japanese, Korean, Lebanese, Swiss, and others. There is no doubt in my mind that Penang has the best international cuisine in Malaysia. You never have to worry about going hungry here!