The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 8 June 2012

Penang 2012 eats: Gurney Drive Hawker Centre

Finally, I am able to write and post up some foodie photos of our trip to Penang last month! It has been a really full-on past two weeks for my family (which also saw me in hospital for 3 days!), and it's still no time for rest, but I am stealing a moment to relax and work on something I enjoy. We had the privilege to attend my cousin's wedding in Penang, and we stayed at a hotel on Gurney Drive (aka Persiaran Gurney), one of the most well-known places in Penang. It is a beautiful location with sweeping sea views, and home to one of Penang's biggest and most famous eateries.

Gorgeous sea views along Gurney Drive. Shot was taken as we were walking northward towards the other end where the hawker centre is located:

One section of the vast open-air hawker centre, with many stalls offering diners plenty of choice:

I was informed by one of my cousins that the Gurney Drive Hawker Centre is more expensive than other more 'local' hawker centres. We encountered many tourists in this area, so perhaps that is the driving force behind the higher price. It is still very cheap by Aussie standards, and is slightly more tourist-friendly than the more local hawker centres. As typical of most hawker centres, each group of tables are claimed by a particular drinks vendor, and you cannot order drinks from a drinks vendor other than the one that serves your table. I guess the drinks vendors have to also make their money somehow. It is always a crowded and noisy affair when dining at a hawker centre, and it can be great fun when dining out with family or friends. We had an enjoyable time "shopping" for our dinner, browsing through the different food stalls and marvelling at the wonderful variety of delicious-looking food.

We found one stall selling many types of Nonya kueh! Nonya is part of my heritage, and these kueh make up some of my fondest childhood foodie memories in Malaysia. I could not resist buying a few goodies for later (photos of our purchase towards the end of this post):

This Char Kuey Teow hawker had a long queue, which we took to be a good sign that the noodles are good:

The queue moved fairly quickly, and before long I was at the head of the line where I had a good view of the CKT chef in action:

The fried flat rice noodles, served rather unglamourously on the lid of a Styrofoam takeaway box. However, it was really tasty char kuey teow, not too greasy and perfectly seasoned with wok hei (that lovely charred flavour from the wok):

A plate of Rojak (a type of fruit and veg salad), from a stall claiming to serve the best rojak on Gurney Drive (there were other rojak stalls making similar claims such as "Best rojak in Penang" and so on). Not bad for a rojak, and was a nice balance of sweet, spicy and sour:

At a popiah stall, yet another food item that conjures up fond childhood memories of DIY popiah parties. Hubby said he'd never had popiah before, and I didn't hesitate to make my way to this stall to get some:

Popiah is essentially a 'fresh' spring roll (i.e. not fried) with a mostly vegetarian filling, primarily made from grated turnip or jicama and a few other crunchy vegetables. The vendor had drizzled a sweet sauce over the pieces before handing the plate over. A fabulous way to get that all-important vege intake:

There were a few "Ikan Bakar" stalls that had seafood on ice. Diners could pick fish, prawns, squids and other seafood to be cooked to order on charcoal grill. I chose squid...:

... and some king prawns. These two were more expensive than all the other items and drinks we'd also bought, but they were pretty fresh and quite enjoyable to eat:

Back at the hotel, we enjoyed the first things we bought at the hawker centre: Nonya kueh. When I was a kid, I used to eat the Kueh Lapis (layered cake, foreground) by peeling off each individual coloured layer. In the background is Kueh Dadar: pandan-flavoured crepe with grated coconut and gula melaka (palm sugar) filling. So good:

Two flavours of Kueh Kosui: gula melaka (palm sugar) and pandan - both very traditional and typical flavours in Nonya kueh:

Gurney Drive Hawker Centre
Northern end of Gurney Drive (aka Persiaran Gurney), between Sunrise Tower and Gurney Plaza
Georgetown, Penang

I leave you with a photo of the best durian - or what was left of it - that hubby claimed he had ever eaten thus far (and he is not a big fan of durians), bought from a streetside vendor opposite the entrance of The Butterfly Farm. It was deliciously creamy with a beautiful taste and a heavenly aroma. It was probably a bit expensive by Malaysian standards (still cheaper than any durian in Australia or Hong Kong), but it was SO good that I only thought to take a photo after we'd eaten six of the seven pieces. I reckon if all durian virgins ate durians as good as this one, they would fall in love with the "king of fruits".

Durian that was so good, it'd probably even convert durian-haters:


  1. This is a great post! I'm into hawker centers. Great and inexpensive food finds! Food looks delish! :)

    Just followed you on GFC. Hope to get a follow back. :) TY

  2. Thanks for dropping by, The Mommist. I will take a look at your blog!