Okay it has to be said: Penang is the best city ever. And no I’m not being biassed (yes, I know I’m a true-blue Penangite). But the number of accolades this little island has received speaks for itself. And when it comes to hawker food, it’s simply on another level, there’s no competition (come on, face it).
But with the rise of inflation, it’s getting more difficult to get my hands on hawker food below RM5 these days. Fortunately I discovered that with the addition of 50 cents (make that RM5.50), you’ll be able to have a taste some of the best hawker food that Penang has to offer.
We went down to the Pearl of the Orient and got you the 10 best hawker food under the price of RM5.50 for a super value meal.
1. RM3 Wan Tan Mee
When was the last time you had a plate of wan tan mee that cost less than RM4.50? Now you can— for just RM3. Helming the hawker stall at Top Lucky Cafe is Mary who has been selling her extremely affordable Wan Tan Mee for the past 32 years.
At just RM3, a plate of her wan tan mee comes with a generous portion of noodles, dumplings, barbecued pork, leafy vegetables and sambal belacan. Talk about getting a bang for your buck!
4E-1-78, Lorong Semarak Api 1, Bandar Baru Air Itam, 11500 Ayer Itam, Penang
+6016 444 1119
Mon to Sat: 7am – 11am
Closed on Sun
2. RM5.50 Jawa Mee
How familiar are you with fried jawa mee? Adapted from the Indian-Muslim hawkers, fried jawa mee utilises yellow Hokkien wheat-and-egg noodles in a tomato-based sauce.
Located behind Gama Supermarket & Departmental Store, you can find 65-year-old Auntie Hooi Eng behind the wok plating up a plate of scrumptious fried jawa mee. At just RM5.50 a plate, her fried Jawa Mee comes with fresh prawns, barbecued pork, potatoes and eggs. If stir-fried noodles is not your cup of tea, try her Soup Jawa Mee at an even cheaper price of RM5.
6, Jalan Tongkah, George Town, 10150 George Town, Pulau Pinang
+6016 412 7662
Wed to Mon: 12pm – 6pm
Closed on Tue
3. RM5.50 Char Kway Teow
If you find yourself along Church Street, don’t forget to swing by Eng Loh Kopitiam for a plate of char kway teow. Located at the corner of the coffee shop, this CKT stall is run by the daughter who took over the recipe from her late father.
Place your order: small plate (RM5.50) or large (RM6.50) and watch as she works her magic. For the affordable price of RM5.50, you’ll really get the bang for your buck here for a good portion of kway teow, lap cheong and prawns.
48, Lebuh Gereja, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
+604 261 5526
Mon to Sat: 7am – 5pm
Closed on Sun
4. RM2 Nasi Lemak
Looking for the perfect breakfast in Penang? Head over to Ali Nasi Lemak Daun Pisang. Located in front of the Sri Weld Food Court along Beach Street, it’s easy to spot this nasi lemak stall because there’s always a long queue of hungry customers.
If you appreciate a good spicy sambal like I do (unlike the sweet nasi lemak sambal served in Kuala Lumpur), you’ll be in for a treat! At just RM2, each packet is filled with fragrant rice, anchovies, hard-boiled egg and a generous amount of sambal! Yum, I’m drooling just looking at it.
Beach St, Georgetown, 10300 George Town, Penang
+6016 407 0717
Mon to Sat: 7.30am – 2pm
Closed on Sun
5. RM5 Laksa Bisu
A family-run business, Bisu Laksa has been operating in the Air Itam Market Food Court since 1948. Bisu literally means mute in Bahasa Melayu. Why such a name, you ask? Currently run by a brother-sister duo, the brother is unable to speak nor hear since birth.
At just RM5, you can get a piping hot bowl of plump and springy noodles in a sweet-sourish broth, topped with shredded cucumbers, chopped onions, tamarind and a layer of mackerel bits. You’ll also be delighted to know that the soup is made from scratch everyday.
Pekan Ayer Itam, 11500 Air Itam, Penang
Wed to Sun: 10.30am – 5pm
Closed on Mon & Tue
6. RM1 Apom Manis
One of the oldest apom manis stalls in Penang that is still operating can be found in Pulau Tikus. It all started back in 1920 and the family-run business has since been operating at Swee Kong Coffee Shop.
Prepared using claypots over open charcoal stoves, they churn out the most delicious, moist, coconut-rich sweet Apom Manis at just RM1 a piece. And trust me, one is never enough. You’ll find yourself reaching for more.
317, Jalan Burma, George Town, 10350 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Daily: 5.30am – 1pm
7. RM4 Char Koay Kak
Operated by the three Eoh sisters, Sister Yao’s Char Koay Kak little pushcart has been a fixture for the past 50 over years, ever since their father Eoh Joo Seng started it in 1963. The sisters use a combination of rice and corn flour to make their koay kak, moulding, steaming, then breaking it into pieces by hand.
The rice cakes are first fried with dark soy sauce, pork lard oil, vegetable oil, fish sauce, and minced garlic. Upon order, it’s tossed with preserved radish , egg, bean sprouts and chilli paste. At RM4, each greasy mouthful is soft and crisp and moist, with bold eggy sweet savoury salty spice smoky flavours. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
96, Lorong Macalister, George Town, 11400 George Town, Penang
Thu to Sun: 7am – 12am
Closed from Mon to Wed
8. RM5 Curry Mee
Established in 1946, Air Itam Sister Curry Mee was founded by two sisters,Lim Kooi Heang and Lim Kooi Lai. They have been peddling their recipe for Penang Style Curry Mee for decades. In fact, they are so popular that they have been immortalised in the form of a mural in the Air Itam Market.
Today however, the sisters no longer run the stall. Instead they have passed down the reins to their grandchildren. So what makes this RM5 Curry Mee so unique? They merely sit on stools and operate business on the ground with a big pot of curry soup boiling over a traditional charcoal fire stove!
612 T, Jalan Air Itam, Pekan Ayer Itam, 11500 Ayer Itam, Pulau Pinang
+6012 410 8152
Wed to Mon: 7.30am – 1pm
Closed on Tue
9. RM4.40 Cendol
If you were to ask me what is the most popular hawker stall in Penang— it would undoubtedly be the Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul. It is practically a rite of passage to patiently queue under the insane Penang heat, get a bowl of a cold, refreshing cendol and guzzle it down at the side of the street.
Fortunately for those who despise the tiring ordeal of queuing, they have recently opened a dining area located right down the street for customers to enjoy the cendol. The portion has also increased and as so, the price— RM4.40 for a bowl. The creamy coconut milk is simply to die for!
27-29, Lebuh Keng Kwee, George Town, 10100 George Town, Pulau Pinang
+604 262 6002
Daily: 10.30am – 7pm
10. RM4 Ais Tingkap
It’s only right to end this list with the most famous beverage in Penang (if you’re not up for cendol that is). Located in Chowrasta Market, Ais Tingkap Penang is home to the perfect treat to beat the Penang heat. The Ais Tingkap here is refreshing and delectable, to say the least.
The thirst-quenching beverage is made with rose syrup, basil seeds, getah anggur, coconut flesh, and coconut rose. Of course, it is topped with shaved ice. Started in 1919, the beverage was sold on a pushcart for 5 cents per cup. Now, it goes for RM4 per cup!
2, Lebuh Tamil, George Town, 10100 George Town, Penang
+6016 400 3310
Wed to Mon: 11am – 7am
Closed on Tue
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