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Introducing Penang Hawkers

To many people in the West, the notion of hawkers, roadside stalls, and kopi tiams (coffee shops) is as blurry as a smoked mirror; the concept is vague and hard-to-grasp (no, they are not like a food cart selling cotton candy, nor are they a McDonalds or Starbucks).

Therefore I would like to take you on a journey through the narrow streets of Georgetown, Penang and introduce you to the hawkers that have shaped the Penang culinary scene. They are essential to Penang traditions and our everyday lives; without them this island state would be a hollow shell.

With this post I give my highest tribute to these masters; whose dedications and hard work I so admire and praise, and whose creations and concoctions I so relish and savor. They are the true unsung gourmet chefs and 4-star restaurateurs of Penang. So let the homage begin.

Penang Hokkien Mee Hawker

A Hokkien Mee hawker and his customer…

Char Kway Teow hawker

Taking a break during downtime.

A Chinese Java Mee Stall in a Narrow Alley in Georgetown

A Chinese Java Mee stall in a narrow alley.

Apong Hawker

Making mouthwatering Apong Manis is no easy task.

Cendol Stall in Penang Road

Cendol Stall in Penang Road, Georgetown.

Kacang Putih hawker in Little India, Georgetown

Kacang Putih (peanuts and snacks) hawker in Little India, Georgetown.

Roti Canani at Kayu Restaurant, Penang

Flipping roti canai is his passion; he does it with a smile on his face.

Roasted Chestnut / Lat Chee Hawker

A hawker with his freshly roasted chestnuts.

Stalls Selling Refreshments and Fruits

Stalls selling refreshments and fruits.

More Stalls

More roadside stalls.

A Mamak Hawker in Little India, Georgetown

A Mamak (Indian Muslim) busy frying his food.

Kek Seng Coffee Shop / Kek Seng Kopitiam

A typical Chinese kopitiam in Penang.

Inside a Not So Busy Kopitiam

A not so busy kopitiam with a few patrons.

Inside a Busy Kopitiam in Georgetown, Penang

A very popular and busy kopitiam with many patrons.

Hawker Center in Georgetown, Penang

A hawker center bustling with activities.

Pictures of mouthwatering Penang hawker food:

Penang Street Food/Penang Hawker Food Galley
Penang Hawker Food
Penang Hawker Food – Part II
– Eating Penang: A Quick Snapshot
Eating Penang: Nyonya Kuih

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13 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. boo_licious

    I love hawkers – most of them are quite friendly but sometimes when they are super busy, don’t bug them or else they will scold you thoroughly.

  2. Rasa Malaysia


    You are absolutely right! If the stall is famous, they will be more arrogant and sombong too, sometimes they don’t even care to entertain you. ;)

  3. toniXe

    i m very tempted 2 plagiarise yr wonderful postings ( works of beauty ) into a Penang History of Hawkers’ Culinary Treasures. v share 10/90. ok lah 90 2 u !

  4. Tummythoz

    Gulp.. I ter-lost ur email add. Err..*swaying from side to side avoiding daggers being thrown* can give again-ar? Actually found d foreverbee add & tried but cannot send thru. Err.. soli-ar.

  5. Anonymous

    Welcome back to the U.S. Bee! I really have been enjoying your posts on Malaysia, and especially love this post on street vendors. You really transport me to Malaysia, and I can imagine the fragrant aromas and flavors of the food. You are a great photographer.

  6. Rasa Malaysia

    Hey PE,

    Thanks for your kind words! I am an OK in photograher, just another wannabe. :)

    You should go to Malaysia! Next year is visit Malaysia year, but make sure you have at least 2 weeks, too much good food to eat. ;)

  7. Audrey Cooks

    It has been ages since I had the ever famous koay teow th’ng and the ice kacang with homemade durian ice cream and jello at Kek Seng. I saw your photo before reading and thot it was the exact coffee shop. So little have changed! Hungry aledi lor!

  8. Angela

    thank you for this excellent guide to eating in Penang.
    The food in penang is the best in the world.
    Can’t wait to get back to eat my favourite char kaoy teow

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