Header image courtesy of Jason Leung (via Unsplash)
Since Penang is an island, it only makes sense that seafood in Penang is as fresh as it gets. With so many seafood restaurants popping up all over the island, it’s hard to tell which ones are the good ones. We’ve compiled a list of unmissable seafood places in Penang that are worth a try—read on to find out which ones!
Famous among tourists and Penangites alike, Song River Café is an open-air hawker centre facing the sea. Its signature steamed fish bee hoon (fish steamed with rice noodles) is one of the most popular dishes, with a price tag ranging between RM12 to RM70 depending on the type of fish. Served with only soy sauce, fried garlic, and chopped chives, it might seem like a simple dish, but the taste is anything but.
Another signature dish that received raving reviews is actually not seafood, but the bitter gourd with fried egg (RM8.50 to RM17, depending on size). We never thought bitter gourd could be this good, but the vegetable comes off as refreshing while the egg’s runny consistency lends a velvety smooth mouthfeel with every bite.
Song River Café, 65, Gurney Drive, 10250 George Town, Penang | (+60) 12 492 7275
Dehappy Seafood Restaurant might be slightly more expensive than the other restaurants on this list, but do not let that be a deterrent—the menu offers a lot of variety in the type of seafood available and also the preparation style. Our first personal favourite is black pepper French crab (RM20 for every 10 grammes), which is tossed with aromatic black pepper sauce, chillies, and spices. You’ll be tempted to lick the plate long after the crab is gone!
Coming in second is the mala prawn pot (RM48 to RM96 depending on size), cooked with Sichuan peppercorns, spices, and chillies. It used to come in a claypot instead of a metal pot, but rest assured that the taste remains superb. Last but not least, the braised noodles with prawns (RM30 to RM60) are perfectly cooked in a lightly savoury gravy and create the perfect flavour balance when all ingredients are had in one bite!
Dehappy Seafood Restaurant, 58, Jalan Macalister, 10400, George Town | (+60) 12 485 2388
Have you ever tried catching your own prawns? Hamisu is one of the few restaurants on the island that offers live prawn fishing. Once you have caught your fill, the staff will cook it any way you like (price varies according to size and amount of prawns caught). Hamisu’s signature dish is the sauna prawn (RM45 per dozen)—fresh prawns are cooked in a wok filled with charcoal and Chinese rice wine. The end result? You get the juiciest prawns that are bursting with savoury wine flavour, as well as a hint of smokiness from the charcoal.
Hamisu, 401, Jalan Dato Keramat, 10150, George Town, Penang | (+60) 16 961 0921
Tucked inside a small coffee shop just opposite Heng Ee School is a humble stall serving the best baked salted crab in Penang! Juicy on the inside and not overwhelmingly salted, the crab is best eaten with the chilli sauce provided by the stall. If you’re still feeling peckish, try the rest of the seafood they have, such as fish, prawns, and clams priced from RM3 upwards, depending on the amount ordered. Just how affordable is that?
Medan Selera Taman Free School, Taman Free School, 11600, George Town, Penang
Since we’ve covered quite a number of Chinese seafood places, here’s a halal seafood place for our Muslim friends as well (non-Muslims are welcome, too, of course). If you’re a fan of shelled seafood, you’ll be in for a treat with Yob Siput Bakar. It specialises in serving all kinds of shelled seafood, such as mussels, sea snails, spiky shellfish, furry shellfish, and ordinary shellfish (RM5 to RM14 per kilogramme), as well as horseshoe crab (depending on seasonal availability). Although they can be served both boiled and grilled, we strongly suggest going for the grilled option. Yob Siput Bakar uses coconut shells instead of charcoal as fuel, imparting a unique flavour to its seafood. Definitely a great spot for those who seel to indulge in loads of molluscs on a budget.
Yob Siput Bakar, Jalan Akuarium, 11400, Gelugor, Penang | (+60) 18 222 9389
Fizzy Café Mee Udang Ketam is another Muslim-friendly eatery seafood fans will love. Its signature dishes are mee udang and shellrock, which is essentially a bucket of fresh seafood served on the table. Mee udang (RM15) is a plate of yellow noodles braised in sweet chilli sauce, accompanied by large, succulent prawns. Shellrock (RM70) is a set menu consisting of two large crabs, three medium prawns, 600 grammes of mixed clams, and some greens. It’s big enough to feed two to three diners, depending on your appetites. A food coma is imminent!
Fizzy Café Mee Udang Ketam, Jalan Bayan Lepas, Kampung Masjid, 11900, Bayan Lepas, Penang | (+60) 18 974 2272