There are a lot of delicious Penang street food dishes to eat when you visit, but perhaps one of the most famous is asam laksa, a speciality found uniquely of this version in Penang. There are many famous places to eat asam laksa on the island, but probably the most famous is Air Itam Asam Laksa, located near Kek Lok Si Temple in the Air Itam (also spelled Ayer Itam) area of the city. Since we were staying in George Town, we decided to make a day trip out of going to Kek Lok Si temple and eating at two different noodle restaurants.
From George Town we headed over to the bus station and caught a bus towards Air Itam. Though we had no idea where we were going, I followed the map and I could see we were going in the right direction the entire time. It took about 30 minutes on the bus until we reached a market area in Air Itam, and that’s where the bus route ended and we got out and were surrounded by the market. The market at Air Itam by the way was pretty good too – there were plenty of snacks and things to eat if you’re hungry.
Our first stop was for Malaysian curry mee – curry noodles – and another Penang street food legendary stall called Sister’s Curry Mee. Operated by two elderly sisters as soon as I found the street food stall, they welcomed us in and invited my wife and I to sit at the lonely table they had set up next to where they were cooking. The stall was truly remarkable, the sister’s were serving the curry and noodles out of big pots sitting over charcoal, slowly bubbling away. It was an amazing site to see. Ying and I each got a bowl and after they finished dishing out their existing orders, they dished our bowls of curry expertly. The curry mee came with a variety of different noodles on the bottom of the bowl, filled with a mixture of curry, some pieces of squid, some sambal chili sauce, and a few ingredients that I have no idea what they were. The curry mee wasn’t too rich, and it had a salty and sweet, with a shrimpy flavor.
Happy full of Sister’s Curry Mee, we walked over to Kek Lok Si, which is one of the biggest Chinese Buddhist temples in Penang and in Southeast Asia. I didn’t know about Kek Lok Si temple very much before visiting, but I figured out there were a number of different parts of the temple, each connected, yet completely different areas. Ying and I first found our way up the hill and headed to see the giant statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. We then walked around for a bit, and then walked down the hill to get to the Kek Lok Si Pagoda. The pagoda is said to be Chinese on the bottom, Thai in the middle, and Burmese on the top. Climbing to the top of the pagoda was the highlight of my visit to Kek Lok Si Temple. After walking around in the Penang heat for a while it was time to eat asam laksa, located near the temple.
We made our way over to Air Itam Asam Laksa, one of the most famous street food spots for laksa in Penang. The street food stall was packed out as it always is, and it was a little confusing to figure out how to order – but eventually I figured it out – we found a table and ordered two bowls of asam (assam) laksa. To make asam laksa at Air Itam Asam Laksa, they added a handful of herbs and vegetables at the bottom of the bowl, then came the thick rice noodles, then the curry, which was fishy with a sweet and sour taste. The final component was some kind of a black sauce, that maybe was dark kecap manis style sauce – it almost tasted like hoisin sauce. The asam laksa at Air Itam Asam Laksa was a little on the sweet side for my preference, but it was still excellent, and I loved all the herbs and vegetables in it. If you go to Kek Lok Si temple when you’re in Penang, you have to try the asam laksa, and maybe the curry mee as well.
Going to Kek Lok Si temple and eating at Sister’s Curry Mee and Air Itam Asam Laksa made a fantastic Penang day trip from George Town.
Music in this video is from Audio Network
Filmed and created by Mark Wiens and Ying Wiens: http://migrationology.com/blog & http://www.eatingthaifood.com/ & http://www.travelbyying.com/
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