Nasi kandar, a favourite northern Malaysian dish of mildly-flavoured steamed rice accompanied by a variety of curry-based meat dishes and vegetables, is a Penang staple. Malaysians will tell you that the best nasi kandar can be enjoyed in Penang and, predictably, there is hardly a shortage of restaurants specialising n this dish on the island.
In a bid to track down the island’s best nasi kandar outlets we considered three factors: whether the piquancy of the restaurant’s dishes was suitable for locals and foreigners; the price of a meal; the ambiance of each selected restaurant. We have listed them in order of how good we thought the food was – so check them out now!
- Traditional English Afternoon Tea at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel
- City Half-Day Tour
- EZhopper Sightseeing Bus Pass
- Georgetown by Night Tour
- Island Half-Day Tour
- Private Penang Hill & Temple
- Heritage Trishaw Tour
- Private Penang Hill & High Tea at David Brown's Restaurant
- Botanic Gardens & Tropical Spice Garden Tour
- Penang Hill & Kek Lok Si Temple Tour
Famously known as Nasi Kandar Beratur (Queue-Up Nasi Kandar), this place is for hardcore nasi kandar enthusiasts – or if you have been out clubbing late and do not mind standing in line for some of the best nasi kandar you will ever taste. They only open at 22:00, which seems a little strange at first, but it makes sense as it is one of the few restaurants that stay open late on the island. Locals say it is definitely worth the long wait – indeed you will have probably have to queue no less than 30 minutes before you can place an order. A mixture of hand-ground spices seasons the curries – think thick, creamy and flavourful, with just a hint of piquancy (for certain gravies). All this contributes to make Nasi Kandar Beratur the best choice for Penang locals, visiting Malaysians, and foreigners.
- Opening Hours: 22:00 – late
- Address: 98 Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, Penang
A 24-hour joint that merits the number two spot only because Line Clear Nasi Kandar’s food tempts us with its ‘limited-time’ offerings. Line Clear is located in a narrow alleyway along Jalan Penang, with wooden tables and chairs, slightly near open drains. Don’t let that put you off though! In all honesty the food here is phenomenal and the fact that you only pay RM6.50 (the cheapest in all of Penang) for a plate of rice, fried chicken, telur dadar (sunny side up omelette), vegetables and ‘kuah banjir’ (a mix of gravies), makes the whole meal that much more satisfying. There is an impressive amount of hype about their daily specials (ranging from fish curry to beef gravy) and the extensive praise is clearly warranted. Adding to the whole value-for-money aspect of Line Clear Nasi Kandar is the fact that the food served comes in generous portions.
- Opening Hours: 24 Hours
- Address: 177 Penang Road, Penang
- Tel: +604 261 4440
You will not have to wait long for the nasi kandar at this restaurant but that does not mean the food is not excellent – on the contrary, in our humble opinion it rivals both Nasi Kandar Beratur and Line Clear Nasi Kandar. Founded and managed by locals, what makes the food here popular is the fact that they do not skimp on the spices – which means that the dishes are almost always fiery in taste. This makes it a popular choice with locals and if you are the adventurous sort, sample the beef in black, sweet, tangy and peppery gravy – simply accompanied by a plate of fluffy white rice and a side of sautéed cabbage, this is a true-blue Penang meal. Our only complaint is that though the food is flavourful, the meat portions are pretty skimpy.
- Address: 12, Lebuh Chulia, Penang
If you are looking for a place that serves nasi kandar that straddles the fine line between fiery spiciness and rich taste, we recommend Restoran Sup Hameed Nasi Kandar. The restaurant serves the usual nasi kandar dishes like sotong sambal (squid in spicy gravy), mutton and fish curry, and beef and chicken gravy but it is their huge selection of vegetables that has us impressed. We love the French beans sautéed in a light soy sauce, fried egg, onions and garlic, steamed lady fingers and the curried mixed vegetables. But these are generally pretty spicy dishes; for those who can’t handle peppery food we highly recommend a plate of their steamed rice drizzled with the rich, coconut-based green-grey kurma gravy, with honey chicken and crunchy cabbage and carrots on the side.
- Address: 48 Jln Penang, Chinatown, Georgetown
- Tel: +604 261 8007
Established in 1907, Restoran Hameediyah is one of Penang’s oldest restaurants. It used to be a traditional mamak-style restaurant along Jalan Campbell until it expanded to newer, air-conditioned premises (called Hameediyah Tandoori House) in 2010. Serving conventional Indian-Muslim food, it is however their spicy, nasi kandar curries that have regulars hooked. Not only is the food excellent, but the restaurant’s clean surrounds makes this a fantastic place for western visitors who are not keen on eating in a rustic setting. If you are not in the mood for rice, then sample the restaurant’s signature beef murtabak – a pancake stuffed with beef chunks, savoury potatoes and egg.
- Address: 164A Lebuh Campbell, Georgetown
- Tel: +604 261 1095