How to Plan a Food Tour for your own Family (and anyone who knows Penang well)

By Christina Kim - March 02, 2016


It is always a treat to have visitors who are heading over to visit you, or to take that trip to where you're staying (especially when you're in a place which rhymes with tourism).

It is nice to have company, even more so when they are your own family.

The first thing that comes to mind when you hear your family is coming to visit is always the things you can't wait to tell them, show them, share with them and all that fun times you are going to have with them when they arrive.

It is an exhilarating thought and one that sends you to make lists; one after another (if you're obsessed with lists, like me).

But wait, my family knows Penang as well as I do, since it is a place where we have been traveling to since my childhood.

So, this is not your usual fresh pasty-faced bunch of tourists who are looking to make a trip to every tourist attraction or taste every single thing from the street.

These are people who know Penang.

To the extent that they could spell their objective clearly; Food Tour.

Basically, just to Eat.
And the duration is, for a weekend.

Well, it is one of the most common purposes when anyone tells you of their visit to Penang.
After all, Penang is not known as a food paradise for no reason.

Laying out the objective has certainly made it easier for me; except for one thing, WHERE to EAT?

Mind you, these are people who know Penang and they know Penang food at the tip of their tongues.
They have tried and enjoyed most of the local delights; well, at least most of them, except for the new innovative trends circling the city.

It was a challenge for me; to plan the places where they could enjoy the local delights from places they like (or better places, if the old places they used to know has been absorbed in the waves of commercialization and lost their original tastes) and at the same time, introduce some of the new places to them.

My objectives would be:-
1. REVISIT: To revisit their favorites and relive their memories (and taste buds) of what they were fond of

2. REPLACE: To recommend newer and possibly better places of the old favorites (based on my own experiences), for they would want to have more alternatives to add to their knowledge base too

3. RECOMMEND: To introduce new places I have found on my own; which they have never been before.
Places which are on my personal favorites.
Where I am dying to share with them (I think of them whenever I try a new place - it's how family works. We always have each other on our minds when either is missing from the experience)

Turns out, it was a far more challenging feat as compared to bringing first time visitors who barely knew Penang.
Not that I'm complaining.

The other challenge was to cram all those objectives into two days.

I ended up not planning that much either; since it's easier when you just play by the ear and it allows more flexibility too, although there are places which are requested and are on the list by default.

So, these are the places I brought them, along with some tips on how I planned a Food Tour for my own family; and basically would work for anyone who already knows Penang and are back for a revisit.

These are just ideas from my own recommendations, could differ since everyone has their own preferences.

One thing to keep in mind;  You don't want them to be bored.

Ideas and Places to bring those who know Penang

1. Find a Place which serves Breakfast and Brunch (opening hours stretch into the afternoon - kill two birds with one stone)

Dim Sum 


To be honest, you will never go wrong with dim sum.
Anywhere you are, and Penang is just filled with many places serving this delicate yet sumptuous meal; be it on the street or even in air-conditioned restaurants.
One of the best places to go is in town, and the choices are just endless to choose from.
I've brought my own family to my favorite haunts over and over again, that I think they would probably revolt if I were to suggest it again.

So we tried another dim sum in town; located on the busy Macalister Road.
Everyone knows this place; you just can't miss it.

Macalister Road Dim Sum (there's another two on this road, but this is the one you pass by on the main road. The one which serves buffet steamboat at night).

As they are open until late lunch hours (until 2pm), it's a perfect place for breakfast cum brunch since you don't drag anyone on vacation up for early breakfast.
Besides dim sum, they also serve noodles which are made to order and served piping hot directly from the kitchen; giving the option of having some sort of lunch instead of breakfast if one is not up to the dainty bites from the bamboo steamer baskets.








The variety will promise a feast for even the pickiest eaters.

Prices are fair and reasonable here; along with freshness of the food and servings could last you up to tea time.

Another place we have been to before, was Wang Zhao Jun (Rangoon Road).


This is a place where they serve mainly fish-based dishes (they are famous for that) along with side dishes for a hearty meal.

One can opt for noodles or even order a few dishes to go with rice, and noodles.


They would recommend their signature dishes, for sure, but just be mindful and insist on your serving size.

Their signature dishes include the Fish Hor Fun, Fish Noodles in their specialty soup, Homemade Braised Tofu.
You can choose the type of fish to go with; based on the available fish of the day.
Prices could vary, although a typically serving of two could be above MYR20++.




Prices here could veer towards the slightly higher side, but this is a place which is definitely more suited for brunch as it could tend to be heavy for breakfast.
They have also gained fame a few years ago due to their reputation and steered them towards commercialization though they still maintain their regular customer base.

2. Opt for Places which has Everything (almost everything at least) under One Roof
On this, food courts, hawker food centre and marketplaces are always the go-to.
I didn't have to do much homework for this one, as my family knew where they wanted to go, far better than me (since I'm not a regular fan), though I did recommend a place or two as well.


Cecil Marketplace (Cecil Road)
This is the famous one; located in the midst of the cross alleys in the heart of Georgetown.
The locals refer to this area in their local dialect, as the 7th Street.

It's just right next to the market; the Cecil Market which is one of the biggest and surviving wet markets in Penang.
It is also one of the rare ones which runs to the late afternoon.



Due to the aluminum roofs, it could be incredibly hot to eat here and of course, with it being next to a market, you would have to bear with the strong stench which comes from the meat and fish stalls, even though the market is actually at the back while the food centre is right in front (facing the street).

However, despite the heat and the stench, you will find the place crowded most of the time, jam-packed with locals enjoying slurping their hot soup from the bowls while cooling themselves down with a sip of icy drink as sweat trickles down their foreheads.
Yes, that is really how it's like here, but that's as close to the local scene as you can get.
(just don't stare or take photos of them, they may not like it. If you must, just do so with discretion).

Prices are one of the most pocket-friendly here, though portions tend to be on the modest side and that leaves you plenty of room to try the other food without feeling overstuffed.

Coffee shops are almost synonymous with Penang's local food scene and no one, I repeat, no one leaves Penang without actually sitting and eating in a local coffee shop.
That's part of experiencing the local culture.

When it comes to coffee shops, there are just endless of them around the island.

Kedai Kopi Genting (Island Glades) 
This place is buzzing with locals residents (it's located in a residential neighborhood) during the afternoons and the good thing is, besides the variety of stalls, they are also open until the late afternoons.





There are even food stalls set outside the shop which sells snacks and fried pastries; tidbits which are perfect for tea, if you are into sneaking a bite or two (while on vacation, you can deal with the guilt and diet once you're back to reality).

Another advantage is that, in the same area, there are a total of four coffee shops on each corner of the two rows of shops adjacent to each other.
(Most of the time, only two will be open during the day and the other two, at night)

Therefore, if this doesn't work for you, you could go to another coffee shop on the other side.

Prices range from average to slightly higher as compared to Cecil, and tastes vary as well.
It could very much depend on one's taste buds.

Bee Hooi Coffee Shop in Pulau Tikus (not to mistaken with the one in Kimberley Street in Georgetown)


This place is quiet in the afternoon with only a few stalls operating but come night time and the place is transformed into a busy place.

You would need to wait for a place if you are here during the peak hours (dinner time).

There are also many varieties to look forward to and you can find almost everything here.
Koay Teow Th'ng, Char Koay Teow (famous one though pricey), Hokkien Mee, Lor Bak, Pasembur, Lor Mee, Assam Laksa, Popiah are all the reasons the crowds are here.



Prices are on the higher side due to the neighborhood, and it can be hard to get a place especially during the dining hours.

Be ready to hawk and queue for your table, and even your food (Char Koay Teow and Popiah will inform you your number in line).

3. Find a Place far away from the City, and Most Importantly with a View
You want to keep them occupied, and what better way than letting Mother Nature play her part?

By the beach, or just somewhere further away from the scrutiny of the traffic lights and honking sounds, you just need that one place for them to enjoy their food and have the breeze blow into their faces.
Thankfully Penang is an island and there are many locations which are by the sea; which gave rise to the seafood restaurants located just right on the spot.

After all, you can't leave the island without enjoying a little seafood, can you?


You could head either towards Gurney and Batu Ferringhi stretch or the other end which is the Bayan Lepas, Batu Maung and Teluk Kumbar area.

Hai Boey Seafood is one such option.




It's of course quite a distance away from the city, but that's the point; to keep them on the road and at the place for a few hours.
It buys us more quality time and even just to let them relax.
The sea and nature always have that nature.
It just spirals one into vacation mode almost immediately.

So there, my tips and ideas for the places to bring people who really know Penang and have been here before, but yet are game to revisit all the old places yet would like to enjoy more of what Penang has to offer.

Whatever the plan is, it is all about good food and good company that matters.

If all fails, just do like what I did, and go with the flow.
Everything will turn out to be good; and even if the food falls short of expectations, the company never ever will.

Have Fun and enjoy Exploring!

*Author's Note: 
This is not a sponsored/promotional post, and solely based on author's personal opinions and do not represent the general public. 
Experiences vary from one individual to another.
You do not have to agree with me.

Art Direction and Photography Styling by Me.
Photos/Videos all belong to me and are copyrighted.
Please kindly ask for permission if you need to use any of my images.

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