The whole world beats a path to the food courts of Singapore to try everything from chili crab to “carrot cakes” made from turnips. But when Singaporeans take their holiday, they head in droves to sample the same treats in neighboring Malaysia’s Penang. This languid, breezy island has long been an offshore sanctuary for food traditions. Even with top street vendors dying off, the great dishes of the region somehow taste better in Penang — from the roti flatbread in a vibrant Little India to the rice plates of chili-soaked fish heads, stingray in banana leaf and of course, char kway teow, the Hokkien noodles drenched in dark soy and dotted with cockles. Penang’s laksa, a thick, pineapple-choked fish-noodle stew, is decidedly the best anywhere — informed by the tangy tamarind of nearby Thailand.
Mama’s — A scrupulously run restaurant that preserves the best of Penang’s unique fare, like cloud-ear salad, tel: (60-4) 229 1318.
Terubong Seafood — An outlying shop house fronted by a nightly barbecue of some of the world’s freshest and cheapest seafood, from razor clams to groupers, tel: (60-4) 866 0903.
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