Together with Penang’s famous laksa, Nasi Kandar, and the yummy Penang breakfast iconic dishes like roti bakar, Penang Curry Mee is certainly one of the yummiest Penang food: a blend of noodles, seafood, spongy tofu that soaks the broth up, and fragrant curry that tastes like an explosion of spices. The chili paste transforms the whole thing from a subtle brothy noodle dish to a real and mean “bowl of fire” with a boldness that deserves to be respected.
There are many Penang curry mee varieties to be found, each with its own specific character, either from the dish itself or the people cooking it. A few are certainly better than others, but once you have found the real deal, you’ll be in for a real culinary treat.
Penang curry mee recipe
Take springy noodles, the correct mix of dried or fresh seafood, some funky signature additions (think coagulated pork blood cubes or duck juices) and many more items.
But it’s the broth that holds the key to a perfect curry mee recipe. There are many different recipes to be found, but all will share the same very fragrant and flavorful characteristics. The dried chilli paste is considered optional, but it would be at best questionable, should you opt to leave it out. Even the tiniest amount of heat transforms your broth from the fragrant mundane into a real liquid orgasm with a kick.
We have listed our favourite Penang curry mee places below: this is by no means the ultimate list, but these places won’t certainly disappoint your craving for that perfect tangy and zesty bowl of Penang curry noodles. For more curry mee with big prawns, you should make the trip to Kuala Sepetang near Taiping — two nearby places with a lot of great food on offer.
The Best Curry Mee in Penang
1Sisters Curry Mee
Yes, it’s all the way up to godforsaken Air Itam, a hellish journey during the best of times. But it’s really worth the traffic hassle: Sisters Curry Mee is close to iconic Kek Lok Si Temple, and comes as close as possible to what old-style Penang street food is. For sure, it’s a bit off the beaten track, with simple stools, only a couple of concrete slap tables, dingy stools and no fan. But you’re coming here for the sisters and their quintessential Penang curry mee, nothing more and nothing less. Their version of curry mee tastes like decades spent honing their cooking craft, only using the best ingredients in order to set a high standard to their prized curry mee recipe. Regardless of the masterful intent, this place looks as casual as Penang hawker food style gets: food is cooked over ancient charcoal stoves, and there’s stuff strewn all over the place. No, Sisters Curry Mee doesn’t look pretty, but it’s really not meant to be. Their Penang curry mee, on the other hand, tastes extremely good, and is probably one of the best state-wide — not forgetting the chilli paste, which is painfully mouth-watering. More than worth the drive and the authentic experience.
612 T, Jalan Air Itam, Pekan Ayer Itam, 11500 Ayer Itam, Pulau Pinang
Open Monday, Wednesday to Sunday, 7.30am to 1 pm, or until sold out (closed on Tuesday)
2Chulia Street Curry Mee
This curry mee stall on Chulia Street, just across from Love Lane and its backpacker enclave, and in walking distance to Penang Little India, has been around for many years. The broth, noodles and chili paste all tick the right boxes, but it’s the fish ball that turns this bowl into something truly special. You can expect to queue because this place is very popular among both tourists and locals alike. But don’t worry as you won’t need to wait for long: the auntie manning the stall is literally on fire, and can prepare many bowls in a short time. The stall is right in the middle of the busy part of Chulia Street: eat your noodles slowly while you observe what happens on the road, as there is plenty to take in here, besides your bowl of goodness.
275-283, Chulia St, Georgetown, 10200 George Town, Penang
Open Monday to Saturday, 6 pm to 10 pm (closed on Sunday)
3Kuantan Road Curry Mee
Not exactly the famous Kuantan Road curry mee, but one very yummy spin-off set among the cluster of hawkers right outside the Counter Hall of Jalan Trengganu’s Tua Pek Kong Temple. We like this simple place because it’s a real insider secret and also dishes up a fantastic bowl of Penang Curry Mee. Both the location and the stall are as simple and no-frills as it gets, but the noodles’ taste is incredible: the curry is not entirely white, but laced with a milky broth and garnished with the perfect amount of mint leaves. It comes peppered with the usual pork blood cubes, and the uncle chef is always nice enough to ask how spicy you’d like your bowl. As you can see from the image above, it’s quite often full of local people, who come here to get their fix of curry mee. Despite the queues, the service is pretty quick, and there are zero foreigners around on most days. We love to come and eat here at sunset, when the sun goes down behind the Chinese arch, glittering over the dragons that emblaze the Temple’s gates.
6, Jalan Trengganu, Taman Free School, 10460 George Town
Open Daily, roughly 6 pm to 10 pm
4Padang Curry Mee
This little truck set on the side of green Padang Brown at the Padang Night Food Court along Jalan Johor is a delicacy in itself. Not only the Penang curry mee they serve are zesty and juicy, but also prepared with particular attention to the chunks of cuttlefish, which are always fat and scrumptious. The location itself is magical: plastic tables, yes, but away from the dusty road and set on the side of empty and green Padang Brown. It’s best visited right before sunset, when the breeze makes sitting on the side of this grassy open space a much relished moment. When you’ll tuck the spoon in your mouth, the spiciness of the chilli will make your eyes water and your tongue roll up in pain (or pleasure). Padang Curry Mee are quite dangerous, for they are so good they tend to be consumed when they are still very hot off the wok: don’t be surprised if you’ll have a blister on your palate the next day. Highly recommended, for flavour, taste, and location.
18, Jalan Johor, George Town, 10400 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Open Daily, roughly 6 pm to 10 pm
Best Penang White Curry Mee
5Tan Jetty White Curry Mee
White curry mee is a Penang speciality which comes with a more distinct, fragrant taste than regular curry mee. We believe that the one served at the small food court at the entrance of the Tan Jetty is particularly tasty. For a mere RM4.50 (just a little over US$ 1) you’ll be served a mean bowl of fragrant white curry that looks more milky and silky than other types of curry mee. It’s usually garnished with fresh mint leaves, cubes of solidified pork blood (a must, in our opinion, to really feel how the white curry differs from normal red curry), chunks of tofu and cuttlefish. The chilly paste is served on the side in your spoon — you can ask not to serve it, but you’d miss out on a very peculiar ritual here. We always dunk the whole thing into the broth, mix it vigorously, and let it burn on our tongue.
50, Pengkalan Weld, George Town, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Open Daily, roughly 6 pm to 10 pm
6Hot Bowl White Curry Mee
An institution of sorts. We wouldn’t put it right on top of the favourite places to go for but this unique version is definitely worth a try. They’ve been making their famous white curry mee for years and though times may have changed, their bowls of goodness haven’t. You can customize exactly the way you want it. Don’t want squid but just the duck blood and cockles. Can. Only duck blood? Can too. Their broth is good but you’ll really need to add the dried chilli paste to turn it into something special. They do more than just the curry mee, with plenty of local dishes to be found on their menu too.
58, Jalan Rangoon, 10400 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 8 am to 3 pm (closed on Monday)
7A special Curry Mee recipe by Helen @ Muntri Cafe
This place is for those who are afraid of eating the “dirty food” found on the streets of Penang but still want to taste something that resembles an authentic curry mee taste. Helen’s curry mee, as the menu reads, is sold at a very comfortable café which has been sucked dry of whatever rustic character is to be found on the humble stalls found on Penang’s back lanes. But in its place, you’ll find a bomb of flavour and generosity: King prawns, plumb fish balls, chicken, and other goodies. The heat of the chilli is present but gentle, just enough to make you sniff a bit. We didn’t really manage to find out who Helen is, but her recipe for this curry mee works all too well. While there, be cheeky enough to check out the hotel grounds: just as their curry mee, their boutique hotel Muntri Mews (one of the 20 best boutique hotels in George Town) has been generously made over, and resembles something quintessentially Penang, but very beautified into a shelter from George Town’s rustic chaos.
77, Muntri St, Georgetown, 10200 George Town, Penang
Open daily, 8 am to 11 pm (Helen’s Curry Mee is available for lunch and dinner only)