If you’ve ever been to Chinatown, you’ve surely passed Penang on 10th. It’s the one that doesn’t look Asian whatsoever, with an all window front and a very metal-heavy industrial look. It’s a Malaysian restaurant. I believe one of maybe 3 Malaysian places in Philly, but definitely the first. It’s also a pseudo chain, with one in NYC and Atlanta, and perhaps others. I love this place. I’ve been to Penang at least half a dozen times. I’ve been to the one in Atlanta another half a dozen times. The one in Atlanta isn’t industrial looking at all. That one is all Japanese tea garden looking. Bizarre, I know. What’s funny about it is that not only is the food the same, but the service is the same as well. All the staff have the same way about them.
I typically get the same things every time I go to Penang – mee goreng or the pearl noodles. This time, I decided to not do the usual. I got a watermelon drink, which was quite tasty, but you could tell it wasn’t fresh and that it came from a can. Which is fine, because I did not expect it to be fresh. It did taste just like watermelon though and I would definitely get it again.
It was fairly nice out, but in the restaurant it was a bit chilly, so I decided to go with a noodle soup dish and went with the “java mee”. It is not exactly a soup. It has thicker egg noodles in a sweet and spicy squid gravy with shrimp, shrimp pancake, potatoes, and a hardboiled egg. And by gravy, they really do mean gravy. It’s very thick and strong in flavor. I can’t really describe the flavor but it wasn’t what I expected at all. And in the end, it was strange, yet I quite liked it.
I’m not an appetizer kind of a person, but C got penang chicken wings and T got the chicken satay. T ordered the poh piah rolls. I’ve had the satay and the poh piah rolls before and they’re both quite good. Also good is the roti canai, which they deem as the “Malaysian all time favorite”. N and T both ordered a pearl noodle based dish. I love this so called pearl noodle because it looks like larvae/fish bait. Seriously, but in a really cute way, and totally tasty. It’s one of my favorite types of noodles although I’ve never tried to make it. I’m not sure if you can even buy it, but I suppose Penang has to get it from somewhere.
The Penang menu is quite extensive and there is tons to choose from. There are some thai-esque dishes and indian-esque dishes as well, as Malay cooking has been influenced by many different Asian countries. The dessert menu is not extensive at all, as they have ice cream, fried ice cream, peanut pancake (whatever that is), and ABC. They also had creme brulee that day. T and C ordered the ABC, a very odd volcano looking thing of shaved ice, syrup, red bean, and corn. I didn’t try any as I was stuffed, but they loved it. S ordered fried ice cream and it looked awesome.
Penang is also great because it’s so damn cheap! You can stuff yourself silly for $10-15. So many entrees are barely over $5. And their drinks are also reasonably priced. There are more expensive dishes, but I’ve never been inclined to try them. But whatever I’ve had there, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. I know you will too.