Besides Penang laksa, another distinctive Penang dish is nasi kandar. For the uninitiated, nasi kandar is the combination of rice with different types of curry that is halal (meaning permissible in Islam) and is typically prepared by Indian Muslims or Malays. You can’t say you’ve experienced Penang food unless you’ve tried nasi kandar at least once.
The following is the list of six nasi kandar restaurants that serve mouth-watering fare that should be able to elevate your food trail experience in Penang.
1. NASI KANDAR RM1
This nasi kandar eatery is popular among locals due to its unbelievably cheap price. With so many choices, you’ll be astonished to learn that the majority of them are each priced starting from MYR1. According to Sheik Faizal, the restaurant’s owner, the restaurant serves up dishes with such price so as to meet the budgetary needs of customers from all backgrounds. Opens from 10:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m., Monday to Saturday, and closes on Sunday.
2. Hussain Nasi Kandar Drive Thru
Despite being a new restaurant, this eatery has been attracting a lot of attention since it becomes the best option for those seeking nasi kandar on the go. Hussain Nasi Kandar Drive-Thru is the first and only nasi kandar purveyor that offers drive-thru service, and for that it attempts to enter the Malaysia Book of Records. You can, of course, still dine inside. The eatery’s Ayam Bawang set is the best-seller, which will have your tastebuds flying on cloud nine.
3. Nasi Kandar Bawah Pokok Ketapang
In Butterworth, Nasi Kandar Bawah Pokok Ketapang is popular due to its delicious flavour so much so that customers are willing to wait in long lines just to buy it. The dishes are sold from a three-wheeled vehicle parked under a ketapang (Terminalia catappa) tree. Actually, most of the eatery’s patrons come from outside Butterworth. This eatery also has a full-fledged restaurant called Nasi Kandar Jamal Mohamad, located about 100 metres from the ketapang tree and has been operating since 1988.
4. Nasi Kandar Imigresen
Nasi Kandar Imigresen is probably the most basic of the lot, serving up a variety of curry to be eaten alongside nasi kandar from a small street cart, located just in front of a Chinese kopitiam (coffee shop) and across the street from Touch India. The dishes served by Nasi Kandar Imigresen is a little less spicy compared to the other nasi kandar eateries, thus popular among those who prefer milder curry. Nasi Kandar Imigresen is a nice spot to go if you don’t mind dining on a plastic table on the side of the road. Many brave the day’s heat just to come to this stall for a plate of nasi kandar.
5. Nasi Kandar Beratur Original
Nasi Kandar Beratur is a Malaysian institution that first began in 1943. This eatery – located opposite of the entrance to Kapitan Keling Mosque in the heart of George Town – is unique because it only opens at night after 10:00 p.m. Beratur means ‘to queue’, and that’s exactly what you’ll have to do when you want to eat here. Many nasi kandar fans come here from all over the country just to savour the dishes, and most of them indiscriminately park their vehicles on the side of the road, blocking other cars. Diners are therefore recommended to be mindful of where they park their cars; better yet, use public transport or e-hailing service.
6. Nasi Kandar Kampung Melayu
Nasi Kandar Kampung Melayu, located in Air Hitam’s Kampung Melayu neighbourhood, is another good option for spicy, nutritious rice and curry. No frozen meat is used in the making of the curry dishes. The meat used is also marinated and savoury, making the curry dishes smooth and flavourful. Been in business since 1970, the curry dishes served here are well-liked by clients both nationally and internationally, selling up to 1,000 plates in a single day. The eatery’s success is due to its generations-old recipes and ground spices. Don’t miss this eatery if you’re in Air Hitam!
7. Restoran Muhammad Raffe Nasi Kandar Pulau Tikus
Mohd Raffe Restaurant first opened its doors in 1959 in Batu Gantong, Penang, and later relocated to Pulau Tikus in 1998. This 24-hour eatery is modest and only being ventilated by fans. The ambience is typical of a mamak shop: casual dining, packed with diners and workers, and alive with discussion. Tables are set up along the walkway and on the street directly in front of the eatery to accommodate more customers and create al fresco dining ambience. The way you order your food here is the same as in other mamak restaurants: you line up in at the food counter and wait your turn. While waiting in line, you can start salivating over the selection of dishes that you are going to order. Feast your eyes over the eatery’s famous fried chicken piled high on one shelf, pots of sizzling curry, and steaming aromatic comestibles laid out in front of you. Chances are you might return to this eatery during your future trip to Penang…