The best desserts in Penang are prepared as refreshing treats to be enjoyed on a scorching afternoon in Malaysia’s food capital. The island's main claim to fame is their distinctive Nyonya flavouring in the local Chinese cuisine, where visitors flock to quaint heritage cafes and humble roadside eateries to enjoy a vast range of mouth-watering Penang-style delicacies and hawker fare.
Penang is also famous for its diverse range of dessert offerings, all of which are made with local ingredients such as coconut milk, palm sugar (gula Melaka), red beans, bananas, sweet corn, and grass jelly. From piping hot pastries to refreshing shaved ice, we’ve compiled a selection of the five must-try desserts and where to find them in Penang.
Cendol or chendul is well-regarded as one of Penang’s signature desserts and is sold almost everywhere on the island, from humble roadside stalls and food courts to air-conditioned restaurants and cafes. Priced from RM2.60 onwards, it is a bowl of shaved ice topped with coconut milk, palm sugar, kidney beans and pandan-flavoured starch jelly. The cendol’s smooth and creamy consistency makes for a refreshing treat during a hot day in Penang. For the best cendol in Penang, we highly recommend the iconic Penang Road’s Famous Teochew Chendul, situated along a narrow alleyway in Lebuh Kweng Kee. This family-owned stall has also been consistently serving delicious refreshments since the 1950s.
- Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 10:30 – 19:00, Saturday & Sunday 10:00 – 19:30
- Address: 27 & 29, Lebuh Keng Kwee, Georgetown
- Tel: +604262 6002
Ais kacang is another must-try dessert in Penang that’s very similar to cendol, which comes with an assortment of condiments. A bowl ice kacang comes with a serving of kidney beans, sweet corn, Attap seeds, grass jelly, and creamed corn topped with huge scoop of shaved-ice mixed with evaporated milk, rose-flavoured syrup and palm sugar. Great for ending a meal on a sweet note, the most popular ais kacang in Penang can be found at the Kafe Kek Seng in Jalan Penang. Accessible within a 10-minute walk from KOMTAR Penang, this coffee shop is well-frequented for its signature ais kacang (RM4.80) which comes with two scoops of homemade ice-cream. There are several flavours to choose from, though we highly recommend the durian ice-cream for its smooth texture and rich flavour.
- Opening Hours: Daily 09:00 – 17:00
- Address: 383, Jalan Penang, Georgetown
Apom Balik (turnover pancake)
Apom balikis a sweet Nyonya-style pancake that’s stuffed with shredded coconut, sweet corn, sliced bananas, or peanuts, folded over, and topped with a sprinkling of sugar. Prepared in bite-sized portions, the outer layer is usually crispy while the inside has a fluffy texture with a hint of fragrant coconut milk. The Apong Guan stall at Burma Road is hailed as the best place to enjoy apom balik in Penang. Situated opposite Union Primary School, expect to endure a half-hour long queue for this crispy confectionery as loyal patrons often order them by the hundreds. A piece of apom balik at Apong Guan is priced at only RM0.50, making it one of the cheapest desserts in Penang.
- Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday 10:00 – 17:00
- Location: Burma Road, Penang
Tong shui is Cantonese term to describe sweet soup or custard that’s served at the end of a meal. Made with a variety of ingredients including red bean, peanuts, white fungus, lychee fruit, glutinous rice balls, coconut milk, and palm sugar, tong shui takes on many variations such as black sesame paste, sweet potato soup, and mung bean soup, just to name a few. Highly recommended is Sweet-i Tong Sui House, a simple family-run shophouse in Bayan Lepas, as the tong shui here is very affordable and does not contain any artificial flavouring or preservative. Its signature black sesame and peanut paste tong shui (RM5) and glutinous rice ball (RM1.50) are definite must-tries for more health-conscious diners with a sweet tooth.
- Opening Hours: Daily 17:00 – 22:30
- Address: 41, Jalan Nipah, Taman Lip Sin, Bayan Lepas
- Tel: +6012 485 3627
Egg tarts are baked delicacies which can be found in many Asian countries, especially in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. Also known as egg custard tarts, this dessert or snack consists of a crispy outer pastry crust that is filled with moist egg custard. Occupying a pre-war building along Jalan Burma, Ming Xiang Tai Pastry Shop has been producing the best egg tarts in Penang since its humble beginnings of selling these homemade delicacies from a trishaw back in 1979. The shop also has an extensive menu of traditional Cantonese pastries such as handmade yam puffs, chicken pies, kaya puffs, mooncakes, and wife cakes.
- Opening Hours: Daily 08:00 – 23:00
- Address: 133, Jalan Burma
- Tel: +604227 9880