The Best Restaurants in Penang: 22 multi-cuisine Suggestions for Dining Out in Penang

Whether you are a new or a seasoned fork in Penang, this article will let you know quickly where to go get the best fix of the island's multi-ethnic cuisine at some of Penang best restaurants.

Best restaurants in Penang noodles
(image from Pixabay)

Penang Food is considered as some of the best in Southeast Asia. A blend of Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine, Malaysian cuisine is not the only type of food you can find in Penang’s best restaurants. There’s an enormous variety of food available in Penang, and our previous posts on the best Western food in Penang and Penang cafes, with their Western-fusion menus, are good places to start your Penang restaurant hunt.

But what are the best restaurants in Penang? Where to go get that unforgettable meal before a night out in Penang or a crawl at some of Penang best bars?

You have come to the right place. This post will tell you:

  • What are the best restaurants in Penang
  • What restaurants you should go to have the best Malay, Chinese or Indian food in Penang
  • What restaurants serve the best Western food in Penang
  • Where to find the best vegetarian and vegan food in Penang

Without further ado, because you must be hungry, here are the best restaurants in Penang we recommend trying.


Best Restaurants in Penang

As Penang cuisine is like a rainbow of different shades at whose end is a treasure trove of all the international foods you may want, this list tries to give you a hint of where to start sampling some of the best Penang restaurants. The order doesn’t make a place better than others… try as many as you can.

PRICE RANGE EXPLAINED:
(average cost of a meal for two)
$= less then 50RM/12$
$$= between 50 and 100RM/ 12 to 25$
$$$= more than 100RM/ 24$


Best Malay Restaurants in Penang

1Jawi House

(image courtesy of Jawi House Facebook)

Founded by the Karim family with their Punjabi-Jawi Peranakan background (intermarriage of diasporas of Indian Muslims with local Malays), Jawi House is a long-standing restaurant in George Town’s Armenian street and one of the few specialised in Jawi Peranakan cuisine.

From biryani rice to chicken curry and beef rendang, a history of endemic tastes and spices mixes well with the sophisticated ambience in a refurbished original shophouse, all curated by Chef Nuril. All ingredients are sourced from a local garden and end up in inventive salads such as Kerabu Mangga, mixing green mango strips with chillies, torch ginger, lemongrass, coriander and lightly sweet and sour dressing.

Jawi House website
85 Lebuh Armenian
tel: +6042613680
Price Range: $$


2Lagenda Cafe

Lagenda Cafe, one of Penang’s best restaurants (image courtesy of Lagenda cafe’s Facebook)

A cafe in body but with food that seriously competes with most restaurants in town, Lagenda gets high marks for a casual-chic Malay and Indonesian food experience in George Town. The interior, with mirrors on walls decorated with jazz-themed murals, is cosy and far superior to other average Penang cafes.

The menu has all of the Malay staple dishes plus some Western food, but we recommend you stick to the first options. The Ikan bakar rice set is a good way to sample local fish and an array of different spices. Meat lovers shouldn’t forget the Ayam penyet rice set – all served with wooden bat-shaped congkak-like boxes.

Desserts are also respectful of traditions, such as the Sago sweets served with coconut cream and palm sugar, or fritters like Banana Bakar, caramelized and fried bananas topped with ice cream

Facebook
2 Lebuh Carnarvon
Tel. +604-251 9300
Price Range: $$


Best Chinese Restaurants in Penang

3Tek Sen (德盛飯店)

Delicious Chinese dishes at Tek Sen (image courtesy of Tek Sen’s Facebook)

Consistently popular, Tek Sen is one of central George Town’s preferred Chinese restaurants. If there is no queue of patrons waiting in line for a table, it means it’s closed. Founded in 1965, Tek Sen is covered in most guidebooks and it’s pretty famous, but regardless of hype, the food has stayed good.

The menu is comprehensive and every dish can be ordered in different sizes according to the number of eaters. Some favourites are the Double Roasted Pork with Chili Padi, bite-sized chunks of pork belly glistened like honey glaze, fried tofu with cutlet served in clay pot, sweet potato leaves with sambal sauce and prawns, and all other popular dishes for a night out trying Penang Chu Char.

Facebook
Carnarvon Street near the Junction with Chulia Street
Tel. +6012–981 5117
Price Range: $$


4Tai Tong

With such a spread, you know why Tai Tong deserves to be listed among Penang’s best restaurants (image courtesy of Tai Tong’s Facebook)

The speciality here is dumplings, and you’ll get trays and trays of different choices, from seafood to salted-egg based. I have been coming to have dim sum here consistently since moving to Penang in 2009, and the quality has not declined. True, it’s popular, homey and some foreigners may not like the open shophouse facing the street — but the Chinese food here is top-notch. And if you don’t fancy dim sum, there’s a bit of all the staple Chu Char you may find in Chinese restaurants all over the island.

Facebook
45 Lebuh Cintra
Tel. +604–263 6625
Price Range: $/$$



5Foon Wei Heong

A well-loved Chinese restaurant in Penang that needs reservations — don’t risk coming here for anything. One of their signature dishes is the Peking Duck, served with popiah skin to prepare wraps and tinge in their homemade sauce.

You can order a la carte, but their set menus, which can also be ordered to take away, are convenient and include delicious dishes like beancurd tofu in a clay pot, curry pork ribs or fish slice, Hakka-style Yam Abacus Seeds. The seafood is fresh, and prawns, such as Butter Prawn with Oat and Fried Asam Prawn, are very scrumptious.

Facebook
23 & 25 Jalan Sri Bahari
Tel. +6016–449 1918
Price Range: $$/$$$


Best Indian Restaurants in Penang

6Karaikudi

The entrance to Karaikudi Restaurant in Penang (image courtesy of Karaikudi’s Facebook)

This long-standing Indian restaurant in the eastern end of Little India has been dishing superb North Indian cuisine, South Indian and Chettinadu — typical of the southern state of Tamil Nadu — for well over a decade. Boasting a welcoming sala fitted with low lights and a stylish yet convivial atmosphere, Karaikudi offers a whole range of Indian staples but shines in Northern offerings. The parathas, naan and chapatis melt in your mouth when wrapped around tasty bites of mains like palak paneer, chicken tikka, different masala vegetable concoctions, and tasty tidbits like the crunchy bitter gourd chips. If you crave meats, the muttons on offer are always solidly delicious, as so are the fish on offer — try the Squid fish dipped in spicy batter and deep-fried.

Price range: 50RM on average for a meal for two

Facebook page
41, 13 Lorong Chee Em
Price Range: $$/$$$


7Sri Ananda Bahwan

One of the most popular chains of Indian restaurants in Penang can’t stay out of this list. Ok, it’s popular and often crowded, but there are several outlets around town. And it’s a very good place to get that Indian food fix, from Southern to Northern, vegetarian and non-vegetarian, tandoori or kebab.

At lunchtime, their banana leaf rice set (Daun Pisang) is recommended.

Facebook
Penang Street, George Town (2 outlets)
Tel. +604–331 0781
Price Range: $


8Passions of Kerala

Banana Leaf meal at Passions of Kerala (image courtesy of Passions of Kerala’s Facebook)

There are two locations of this popular and long-standing Kerala-inspired banana leaf restaurant, one in George Town’s New World Park, and one (our favourite) in Brown Garden in Gelugor.

Whichever you choose, you’ll be delighted by a varied selection of curries, from chicken to mutton, vegetarian and seafood-based (including a delicious clay pot fish head curry for RM55). The quintessential meal to try here, however, is banana leaf rice – literally white rice (the thicker, bigger grain-type that’s popular in Kerala) served over a banana leaf together with curries and usually eaten tucking in with bare hands. One of the most delicious island-wide.

Facebook
3 & 5, Lorong Endah 4, Taman Brown
Tel. +604657 8550
Price Range: $/$$


Best Nyonya Peranakan restaurants in Penang

Peranakan, sometimes called Nyonya cuisine, comes from the ethnic Chinese migrants who settled in Penang, Malacca, Singapore, and Indonesia after marrying Malaysian locals. They carried their foreign traditions with them, eventually incorporating them into the local Malay culture. Penang is a great place to try some lip-smacking Peranakan food, and we recommend these restaurants:


9Auntie Gaik Lean’s Old School Eatery

A pure Peranakan eating experience awaits you at Auntie Gaik Lean (image courtesy of Auntie Gaik Lean’s Facebook)

Everything here, from the retro floor tiles to the cutlery and marble-top tables, scream authentic vintage Peranakan – for those who don’t know, a mix of Malay and Chinese cultures and food, of course.

Auntie Gaik Lean, tucked in the eastern side of Little India offers an authentic array of Penang Peranakan flavours, from their signature Curry Kapitan to deep-fried barramundi with fiery Cili Api Sauce, traditional Jiu Hu Char noodles, and some of the most scrumptious Lor Bak (Chinese meat sausage) this side of (George) town.

Facebook page
1 Bishop Street, George Town
Tel. +6017–434 4398
Price Range: $$/$$$


10Kebaya Dining Room

A Tiffin set at Kebaya Dining Room (image courtesy of Kebaya Dining Room’s Facebook)

The stylish restaurant at architect Chris Ong’s property Seven Terraces, one of Penang’s best boutique hotels, ramps up the Penang Peranakan experience in its old-world-themed hall.
You can eat a la carte, but the best is to go with a group and share one of the set meals – plenty of choices and food for everyone.

Among the mains, the Sticky Plum Duck Legs, marinated for 12 hours and glazed with spices, dried mandarin and plums, is highly recommended as much as the seabass bakar (charcoal-grilled) or Prawn geng, soaked in turmeric and lemongrass curry.

The desserts, ranging from pandan creme brulee to gula Melaka mousse and pengat panna cotta served with sweet potato dumplings and pandan jelly, really seal any deal.

Website
14A Stewart Lane
Tel. +604 264 2333 / +011–14033310
Price Range: $$$


11Perut Rumah Nyonya Cuisine

Atmospheric old-world premises at Perut Rumah (image courtesy of Perut Rumah’s Facebook)

Hidden away in Jalan Bawasah, at the back of Nagore Road, Perut Rumah is a long-standing Nyonya stalwart in town. Stepping into this shophouse is like going back into a well-choreographed world of yore. Everything on the menu, from appetizers such as the Kuih Pie Tee (a thin crispy pastry filled with a sweet and spicy mix of sliced veggies and prawns) and otak otak (fish mashed with spices, coconut milk and egg), to the mains like Inchi Kabin (Nyonya deep-fried chicken marinated in spices and coconut milk) and Loh Bak, perfectly conjure the spirit of the past.

Facebook
Jalan Bawasah
Tel. 04–227 9917
Price Range: $$


Best Fine Dining Restaurants in Penang

Get transported back in time at [email protected] Mansion (image courtesy of [email protected] Mansion’s Facebook)

The Cheong Fatt Tze or Blue Mansion is one of the best things to see in Penang. Not only you can have a tour of this former residence but also indulge in fine dining inside this heritage building at the Indigo Restaurant.

The menu fuses Eastern and Western cuisines – think Kagoshima Beef Bourguignon – in premises that are designed to perfectly marry with Cheong Fatt Tze’s home.

You can also pre-purchase an RM180 Voucher on Klook and enjoy a discounted 3-course meal at Indigo.

Facebook
14 Lebuh Leith
Tel. +604–262 0006
Price Range: $$$


13Au Jardin

Researched fine dining at Au Jardin, a high-end choice for Western food in Penang (image courtesy of Au Jardin)

Tucked in the corner of Hin Bus Depot, one of Penang’s alternative markets, this fine dining restaurant is as researched as it is sustainable — they only provide the freshest seasonal ingredients working closely with producers and urban farmers.

It’s all about Chef Kim Hock’s journey and experiences with European food, which he brings back to the tropical setting of Penang. Think of dishes like Roulade of Chicken, Rib Eye Steaks, Beer-battered Fish & Chips and, on Sundays, a hearty traditional English roast served with Yorkshire Pudding, Chips, Beans and Gravy. It’s intimate, with only 18 seats, and gentlemen should respect a casual-chic dress code.

Open from Thursdays to Sundays only.

Official Site
THE [email protected] Bus Depot, 125, Jalan Timah
Tel. 012 429 7591
Price Range: $$$


14Suffolk House

Seafood Linguine platter at posh Suffolk House, a beautiful heritage restaurant with a stunning Western-food menu in Penang (image courtesy of Suffolk House)

Considered hidden in the outskirts of George Town, Suffolk House continues to shine in its restored glory, reflecting a stately past. The food is Western in style but the kitchen doesn’t shy away from using the vibrant produce from the island’s own backyards. Their lamb shank is incredibly flavorful with spices while falling off the bone with a touch of the fork. The mango crème Brulee has been on their menu for many years for all the right reasons. Go early in the evening to enjoy a sunset drink, while enjoying the manicured grounds.

Official website
250, Jalan Air Itam
Tel. 012–438 8683
Price Range: $$$


Best Western Restaurants in Penang

We already compiled a list of the best western restaurants in Penang divided by regional cuisine, so please go there for a deeper scoop if that’s all you fancy. But to tick off the basics, and let’s say good pizza, pasta, steaks and cheese, you can’t go wrong by starting at one of the three restaurants below.


15Il Bacaro

Don’t miss Il Bacaro’s antipasti platter to start with your western food fix in Penang (image courtesy of Campbell House/Il Bacaro)

The restaurant of popular boutique hotel Campbell House has been around for a decade, introducing and upholstering the name of Venetian cuisine across the island. Yes, that’s “Italian food” for newbies: but it’s Venice’s old-world taverns that inspired Il Bacaro, from its very own name to the choice of food on their menu. Thinking of coming to this well-choreographed sala and only order a simple pizza would be like going to a marriage reception in your underwear: just plain out of context.

Sit down, start with a course of antipasti — Italy’s quintessential cold cuts and cheeses — and then dive into a menu that ranges from creamy soups to whole fish and a selection of prime steak. Don’t forget your limoncello or ammazzacaffe’ before you go.

Official Website
106 Lebuh Campbell
Tel. 04–261 8290
Price Range:$$/$$$


16Two Frenchies

Here’s a fantastic visual sampler of what you can expect from the Western food at Two Frenchies (image courtesy of Two Frenchies)

This George Town restaurant added one shade of French to Penang’s food scene palette. From “Confit de Canard” (duck leg cooked in its own fat, and served on a bed of delicious mashed potatoes) to “Boeuf Bourguignon” (beef slow-cooked in wine, served with potato puree), or the quintessential “Moules Frites”(yummy French fried mussels), you’ll get large, well-presented plates cooked with passion and, let us say it, French savoir-faire. Don’t miss the onion soup, a simple and yet tasty treat, too.

Facebook Page
Tel. 04–261 2000
36 Bishop Street
Price Range: $$/$$$


17Emily’s Steakhouse

Imported to Penang from Darby, UK, this restaurant on Victoria Street is central and sizzles with prime British steaks. Char-grilled rib eyes with fries and salad, homemade onion rings, salmon parcels with English Garden Herbs are just some of the choices in an eclectic menu that puts meat to the front. The wine list on offer is impressive, too.

Facebook
107 & 109, Victoria Street
Tel. 019–839 6630
Price Range: $$/$$$


Best Vegetarian & Vegan Restaurants in Penang

With a large population of Chinese Buddhists and Hindus, religion has somehow made it easier to grow a vegetarian food scene in Penang. Besides plenty of Chinese Buddhist vegetarian economy rice spots, here are some of our favourite vegetarian & vegan restaurants in Penang.


18Woodlands Vegetarian Restaurant

Yes, this is an Indian restaurant, but as it’s entirely devoted to vegetarian food, I believe it’s a very noteworthy candidate to fulfil the Vegetarian & Vegan category. Tucked in the thick of Penang Little India, Woodlands entices with its offer of delicious South Indian food and a smattering of North Indian staples.

From dosai to South Indian thali, vegetable curries such as chenna masala and vegetable butter masala, the choice is wide and it’s loved by locals and international patrons alike. The best part, you get a better than average premise that would suit most types of meetings, at very modest prices. Just remember that the air conditioning here can be frosty, so bring a jacket.

60 Lebuh Penang
Tel. +604-263 9764
Price Range: $/$$


19Pinxin Vegan Cuisine

Pinxin’s award-winning Charcoal Dark sauce Hericum burger (image courtesy of Pinxin’s Facebook)

Pinxin deserves to be on this list for its holistic approach to vegan and Asian food. The founder Madame Audrey Beh has spent the past few years mixing and concocting vegan and Penang food to create pastes that are delicious, healthy and easy to prepare — many famous local chefs use them to save time on preparation.

Not just that, Pinxin is also a nice spot to have a chilled vegan/vegetarian meal in a more secluded part of George Town. Try their “Bao Buns”, scrumptious vege-burgers ranging from Veg Satay to the award-winning Charcoal Dark sauce Hericum and even nasi kandar bao bun. Their choice of noodles (from RM17) includes Hokkien Noodle, Green Tomyam Noodle, Fiery curry noodle and their signature Penang Laksa. Don’t forget the nasi lemak series, which include Nyonya Curry Tempeh Nasi Lemak, that we highly recommend.

We guarantee, it’s all exclusively vegan, so you’ll be able to try those Penang dishes using ingredients that you wouldn’t eat otherwise.

Website
38, Lebuh Tye Sin 10300
Tel. +604 261 0043
Price Range: $$


20Yi Ke Shu (一棵树)

Creative vegetarian food at Yi Ke Shu (image courtesy of Yi Ke Shu’s Facebook)

This diminutive cafe tucked in a back lane off Tanjung Bungah is maybe a little less known than others, but certainly offers some of the best selection of vegetarian food in Penang.
From Western-inspired mains like burgers — the pumpkin burger will leave you asking for more — to traditional Chinese noodles served in rigorous veg-friendly styles, Yi Ke Shu is a great Penang restaurant for vegetarians looking for a quiet offbeat spot.

Veggie pizzas and scrumptious cheesecakes, plus coffees, complete an eclectic menu that’s good for any occasion. Remember that it opens at 11 am and the last orders are taken at 8 pm, so this won’t do for a late night.

Facebook
113, Jalan Lembah Permai, Tanjung Tokong
Tel. +604-890 0129
Price Range: $/$$


Best International Cuisine Restaurants in Penang

21Halab

Some of the Middle Eastern delicacies on offer at Halab Restaurant in Penang (image courtesy of Halab’s Facebook)

Tucked in a refurbished Chinese shophouse and boasting a leafy outdoor patio that’s great for evening dining, Halab represents the upper crust of middle-eastern cuisine in Penang. Whether you are craving silky hummus rich in texture and olive oil, or a kebab platter served with a side of fresh pita, tastes as exotic as Lebanon, Syria, Iran and the like are all available on Halab’s fine dining menu.

If you got a sweet tooth, their selection of desserts, including ice cream and fresh fruit, such as the strawberry stick with melted chocolate, won’t certainly disappoint.

Facebook
381 Chulia Street, George Town
Tel. +604–251 9550
Price Range: $$


22Holy Guacamole

A feast of TexMex flavours at Holy Guacamole, Western Food in busy Love Lane (image courtesy of Holy Guacamole)

Even though the Love Lane surroundings with their nest of Penang backpackers are less than ideal for those who want a quiet dining experience, Holy Guacamole is a solid choice for a night out. The menu has Tex Mex dishes prepared with zest and gusto, from “Nacho Problemo” (a big, crunchy slew of god-made tortilla chips smeared in cheese and jalapeno peppers) to the usual (well, in Mexico) tortillas, quesadillas and fajitas. The food is hearty and popular, so much so are their margaritas. But again, if your idea is talking to your date across the table, allow the second half of your evening for that: Holy Guacamole is alive and loud. Like Kiss.

Facebook Page
65 Love Lane
Tel. 017–482 9065
Price range: $$


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