The hawker food scene in Penang is pretty awesome, so we decided to find the 5 best Kopitiams in Penang to point you in the right direction to grab a great, inexpensive meal. We are not talking about artisanal java joints frequented by urban hipsters – rather atmospheric Chinese restaurants serving drinks and offering a simple menu specialising in toasted bread with kaya (coconut jam with egg paste) and a few other hawker favourites.
The best kopitiams used to be confined to the Georgetown area, but in recent years the mainland has turned up some fairly good options too. Taste-wise, expect each set of toast to be full of flavour and very inexpensive – it cements Penang’s reputation as the country’s unofficial food capital.
- 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
Toh Soon Café
A long running favourite in Penang for its flavour-packed milk tea and perfectly grilled toasted bread with kaya and melted butter (RM3.80), Toh Soon Café certainly lives up to its glowing reputation. Set on a narrow alley parallel to Campbell Street, it is a tiny shop with just a few plastic tables and chairs set on the five foot walkway outside.
One of the big reasons that the toast is so good here is the fact that the restaurant uses a charcoal stove fashioned from an oil drum to make each set of toast, which adds home grown, crispy taste to each bite. We recommend ordering a set of runny half boiled eggs to go with your kaya toast - it just completes the meal.
- Opening Hours: 08:00 - 18:00 Monday - Saturday
- Address: Lebuh Campbell (off Jalan Penang), Georgetown
- Tel: +604 261 3754
Ah Wang Café
Found on the mainland, Ah Wang Café makes for a great stopover on your drive into Penang Island, especially if you are getting in at the early afternoon. Set in Tanjung Tokong, they serve the standard array of drinks but our favourite is the potent iced Hainanese coffee (RM1.40). Strong and stringent in taste, when paired with the kitchen’s toasted bread with homemade kaya (RM2.20), it is simply superb. Meanwhile the toasted bread comes in a variety of choices – pick between white, wholemeal, buns and Bengali bread.
Dress up your meal with a side order of the always-perfectly-done, half boiled eggs (RM2:00), which rounds it all up to create a sweetly satisfying meal like no other.
- Opening Hours: 13:00 – 20:30
- Address: J-6 Gerai UDA, Flat UDA Fasa 3, 10470 Tanjung Tokong
- Tel: +604 898 2318
Luan Fong Kopitiam
The secret to Luan Fong Kopitiam’s success is the generations-old recipe for making great kaya toast, passed down through the family line since this Chinese coffee shop opened in 1959. The toasted bread is fluffy and airy, allowing the creamy kaya spread to overcome your taste buds with its sweet yet savoury flavour.
We suggest you pair up the toast with a cup of basic black coffee and dunk your bread into the drink, just like locals do – the bitter brew complements the sweet jam, creating a taste sensation that is very comforting. Besides that toasted bread and coffee, the kitchen also puts out a great bowl of beef soup noodles and a mean plate Hainanese chicken chops, drizzled with sour and savoury mushroom sauce.
- Opening Hours: 07:30 - 18:00 Thursday - Tuesday
- Address: Lorong Bagan Luar 3, Butterworth, Penang
- Tel: +6012 409 4042
Ah Lai Café
Better known to locals as the ‘coffee shop under the big tree’, Ah Lai Café’s location is certainly cosy. Set under a big, shady tree on Lebuh Gereja, the menu is limited to buttered toast, half boiled eggs and instant noodles done in a variety of styles. The open air atmosphere makes it very relaxed and the pace at which is food is delivered (anytime between 20 – 30 minutes for a simple set of kaya toast) makes it a great place to meet up with friends for a languorous, early morning meal and chat session.
We recommend an order of buttered toast with a set of runny, half boiled eggs (RM3.60) oozing all over the top – it sounds interesting and tastes even more awesome.
- Opening Hours: 09:00 -17:00 Monday – Friday; 09:00 – 13:00 Saturday & Sunday
- Address: 15 Gat Lebuh Gereja 10200 Georgetown
Kopitiam Kheng Hai
Another mainlander, Kopitiam Kheng Hai serves up kaya toast that is pretty unique – their kaya is made using duck eggs! This creates a slightly different creamy, bolder taste from the regular spread, making a visit here a must, especially if you are an adventurous food enthusiast. Located along Simpang Ampat in Butterworth, they use a charcoal fire to toast the bread imparting a smoky flavour to it, before slathering on a thin layer of melted butter and a fat coating of duck kaya spread.
A set of two slices is RM1.20, and paired with a cup of coffee (RM0.80) or tea is really a nice way to start the morning when you are driving into Penang Island in the morning. Other dishes on the coffee shop’s simple menu includes dim sum, done well but the duck egg kaya toast still steals the show for its uniquely, assertive taste.
- Opening Hours: 11:00 – 15:00
- Address: Jalan Tasek Indah, Simpang Ampat, Pulau Pinang 14120