Cheap restaurants and street food in Penang - George Town

There's always never enough tips for excellent and cheap eateries. Today, we'll focus on delicious Malaysian cuisine and visit the streets of the charismatic island town of George Town, Penang. George Town is famous for its excellent local cuisine and the passion of local people for tasty food. The city is attracting thousands of visitors eager to taste the famous and extremely cheap street dishes. Whoever arrives in Malaysia and loves food must undoubtedly remark George Town as one of the most important places on the imaginary list of destinations to visit.

There are loads to taste here. The following article will shed some light on the local gastro scene and give some recommendations for cheap eats. So what's waiting for you?

Steam Boat

You can not miss this specialty while traveling around Malaysia. Steam Boat is a more luxurious version of a far simpler and more popular street stall version. Well, you pay a few bucks extra, but the ultimate effect is definitely worth it.

It is actually sort of a Malaysian Fondue. The types and appearance of the whole preparation appliance differ from each restaurant, but the method of preparing the dishes remains the same. In the picture on the right, you see the traditional version of Steam Boat, a copper bowl filled with boiling, rich broth (chicken or vegetable). A cone-shaped like chimney goes through the bowl, with the coals burning on the bottom with the help of a small battery fan. The hot air rises through the cone upwards and continuously heats the broth in the container. Generally, you dip different delicacies into the boiling broth, the number, and type of which depends on the amount paid and the preferences of the diner. In most cases, you will be able to choose from a wide selection:

seafood and fish(sepia, squid, shrimps, favorite fish called Maw), a variety of dumplings (Wonton, fish dumplings, etc.), Bean Curd Skin (Tofu), pork liver and kidneys, eggs, chicken and vegetables.


The cooking time varies according to each, and the waiter should inform you respectively. After cooking, the delicacies are poured along with the broth into a smaller bowl and then consumed.


Goh Huat Seng restaurant owner (map) first asked us about our preferences and then mixed the selected fresh ingredients and brought them on small platters.

The price of Steam Boat differs per the number of platters: 2 (50 MYR), 4 (70 MYR), 6 (85 MYR), 7 (100 MYR), 9 (150 MYR), 10 (200 MYR) and 12 (300 MYR). If you want to throw a fish head in the broth, you can have a small one for 65 MYR and a big for 125 MYR.


For a solid lunch tasting for two people is enough to get two plates (broth is included). For lunch including a drink, we paid 6.70 USD each.

The Steam Boat concept is very popular in Malaysia. We have enjoyed our lunch greatly and can recommend it!

This family-run and favorite restaurant in the heart of George Town - Goh Huat Seng is unfortunately currently closed, but you'll surely find many other Steam Boat restaurants in the neighborhood. Cheap restaurants In Penang - George Town

Steam Boat - Bowl with boiling broth together with ingredients, 2 plates for 50 MYR, Goh Huat Seng (map) Cheap restaurants In Penang - George Town

Steam Boat - Liver and shrimps Cheap restaurants In Penang - George Town

Steam Boat - Fish and Bean Curd Skin Cheap restaurants In Penang - George Town

Steam Boat - a bowl of cooked ingredients - Wonton, fish dumplings, dried fish Maw Cheap restaurants In Penang - George Town

BBQ Pork Bun, 1,60 MYR, Loo Beef Noodle (map)

Bak Pao - stuffed steamed buns

This Chinese delicacy, popular throughout Asia, is ideal for a quick but filling snack. The bun is made from sweet yeast dough, stuffed with excellent fillings and cooked in steam. Perhaps the most known is the bun with BBQ pork filling - Char Siu Bao.


List of variations of Bak Pao continues - Sweetened Bean Bun, Kaya Bun (Egg and coconut marmalade), Sweet Corn Bun, Vegetable Bun, Chicken Bun, etc.


In Penang, they sell them at street stalls literally on every corner. Buns will stare at you from behind the glass showcase. Price differs according to the chosen filling, starting at 1.40 MYR (0.34 USD) up to 2.40 MYR (0.60 USD).

Amazingly tasty buns you can get at Loo Beef Noodle canteen (menu, map)

In fact, Loo Beef Noodle canteen is surrounded by several other street stalls, where you can order more dishes and eat at the table in the dining room.


It is worth mentioning two types of favorite soups in Penang - delicious Shrimp Dumpling Soup (6 MYR) and famous Koay Teow Thong Noodles Soup (noodle soup with fish dumplings, 4.5 MYR).


For just 6 MYR (1.50 USD), you can also buy a portion of fried noodles (S size is more than enough). You can choose from - Hokkien Char (thick yellow noodles stewed in soy sauce with vegetables and meat), Vinegar Loh Mee (thick yellow noodles, soy sauce, meat, vegetables, garlic, and black vinegar), Hainan Hokkien Char (regional Chinese version - Hainan), Char Hor Fun (noodles more elastic than Koay Teow, chilli, vegetables, meat).


There are many more dishes, with the only difference - type of used noodles.


For your information, check out the street banner for more prices and pictures. Cheap restaurants In Penang - George Town

Shrimp Dumpling Soup, 6 MYR, Loo Beef Noodle (map) Cheap restaurants In Penang - George Town

Koay Teow Thong Noodles, 4,5 MYR, Loo Beef Noodle (map) Cheap restaurants In Penang - George Town

Try more traditional tasty meals at another cheap canteen Tiger Char Kuey Teow (map).


We loved thick rice noodles with shrimps, mussels, bamboo sprouts and egg Char Koay Teow (6.5 MYR) and Wanton Mee (5 MYR, egg noodles in soy sauce with pork BBQ meat, Wanton dumplings, Choy Sum - Chinese cabbage, and pickled green chili peppers).

Wan Tan Mee - Dumpling Dry Big (Wanton mee), 5 MYR, Tiger Char Kuey (map) Cheap restaurants In Penang - George Town

Char Koay Teow, 6,5 MYR, Tiger Char Kuey (map)

We were beyond satisfied with the food in the inconspicuous but excellent family restaurant/bistro Ah Niu Foods Enterprise (map).


We found the food the tastiest of the whole area and thus we came back to eat here on several occasions. In a friendly atmosphere, you can choose from many specialties of Chinese and Malaysian cuisine: Claypot, soups, seafood, chicken, pork, vegetarian dishes. Anyway, take a look at the choice for yourselves - I would spend a long time writing this down (menu).


As an appetizer, you can try the Barley drink that you get as part of Set Lunch & Dinner (soup, meal, beverage, 9.90 MYR, set menu).


Prices are slightly higher compared to the street canteens, though you won't regret it. For marinated ribs, small corn soup, and a nice portion of fried Wonton dumplings I paid 14.5 MYR (3.50 USD). Cheap restaurants In Penang - George Town

Shrimp Wanton Soup 5pcs, 4,5 MYR, Ah Niu (map) Cheap restaurants In Penang - George Town

Fried Shrimp Wontons, 4,5 MYR,  Ah Niu (map) Cheap restaurants In Penang - George Town

Pork Ribs King, 10 MYR,  Ah Niu (map) Cheap restaurants In Penang - George Town

Barley drink, although it's quite tricky to get the barley grains through the straw