Penang – Philadelphia

February 10, 2007
Cuisine: Malaysian

117 N 10th St, Philadelphia 19107
Btwn Arch St & Cherry St

Phone: 215-413-2531
Website: http://www.penangusa.com/


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Malaysian Ice Tea ($1.95)

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Appetizer I: Roti Canai – crispy style pancake & curry chicken potato dipping sauce ($3.25)

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Appetizer II: Penang Satay Chicken – prepared on skewers, charcoal grilled to perfection and served with peanut sauce ($6.50)

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Entree I: Curry Mee with Young Tau Foo Noodles – served in a spicy lemon grass coconut curry with vegetables and tofu stuffed with minced shrimp and fish meat ($6.95)

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Entree II: Wonton Mee Special – egg noodles served with wonton in homemade sauce and chicken broth ($5.50)

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Entree III: Penang Kari Ayam – White boneless chicken cooked over low-heat with lemon grass and chili paste simmered in thick rich coconut curry ($11.95)

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Entree IV: Masak Chicken – Carrot, green & red pepper, ginger & scallion with house special sauce ($13.95)

Malaysian food is literally all over the map. The flavors and ingredients of Thai, Indian, and Chinese cooking influence the cuisine at every turn.

I visited Penang with three former cross country teammates on a brutally windy evening. The restaurant was loud and bustling, but luckily we were seated quickly. Tara ordered a Malaysian Iced Tea to start. It was more or less a Thai iced tea, but lighter in color and slightly less sugary. Tara appreciated the subtle sweetness.

Tara and I both chose the Roti Canai for appetizers, while Molly had the Chicken Satay. Melina did not receive the memo that appetizers were in order so she helped us with ours, which was good because the portions were hefty. Tara and I thought the Roti Canai was flavorful and delicious. The “pancake” tasted like a paper-thin naan and served as a great, although messy, vehicle for the curry. Both the pancake and curry were a bit on the oily side, but nevertheless very tasty. The Chicken Satay was also good; the peanut sauce enhanced the dish’s overall flavor.

For my entrée I ordered the Curry Mee because nothing warms me up quite like a noodle soup can. The portion was very generous and the flavors were familiar, yet foreign. The lemongrass and coconut curry broth was spicy as curry was the dominant flavor. The rice noodles were hearty and fun to slurp. The tofu was fried and thus absorbed the broth beautifully. The minced shrimp and fish meat were tasteless and wrapped in some bitter greens. The soup was topped off with fresh bean sprouts. Overall, I thought the dish was decent, but lacked a strong central flavor.

I had a small piece of Tara’s Penang Kari Ayam. It was good, but not exceptional. Tara wished the dish was spicier. Molly thought her Wonton Mee was very similar to Chinese wonton noodles, but with a saltier broth. Melina found her Masak Chicken too spicy.

Penang was my first introduction to Malaysian food. While I have yet to develop a great affinity for the cuisine (Vietnamese is still tops), I enjoyed the dishes at Penang very much despite their generous employment of oil.

Molly, Melina, Tara

Penang on Urbanspoon

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4 Responses to “Penang – Philadelphia”


  • Oh, I love penang. So much. Next time, try the regular boneless chicken curry with rice, the mee goreng, and the chicken with ginger and soy sauce. After going there several times, these dishes have trumped the more exotic dishes. The mango chicken is good too. And the roti…oh my.

  • ahhh..then you should come to Penang island for the authentic Penang cuisine with influences from Malay, Chinese, Indian, Eurasian, Thai and Straits Chinese/Peranakan cooking. Most Penangites will tell you that ‘real Penang’ food stays on the island. Is difficult to find authentic Penang food abroad because dishes were cooked to suit the local tastes and… best of all if you are invited to home cook meal – don’t decline it!

  • BTW, Roti Canai is eaten mostly as part of main meal and the sweeter versions mostly for desserts. Roti canai is mostly accompanied by Curry Chicken or Dhal. There are other types of Roti Canai like Roti Bom (with condensed milk), Roti John with bananas, paper-thin Roti Tisu/Tissue. I hope that resto has Murtabak… Drinks part… ask for Teh Tarik better if it’s hot. Teh Tarik must have quality bubbles on top :-) and it has to be made with BOH Tea..lol or ‘Cham Peng’ means mixed drinks of coffee and tea with ice… lol

    The curry mee a bit weird though… unlikely Penang curry mee which is laden with creamy coconut base soup with chilli paste topped with yellow noodles, rice vermicelli, beansprout, fried tofu (after soaked with hot water and mixed into the soup is non-oily at all), cockles, prawns, mint leaves and coagulated pork blood :-D Sometimes chicken meat is added as well. I guessed the minced shrimp and fish wrapped in bitter leaves??? is their own creation?

  • hmm.. pixen must be a malaysian or a someone who has lived in Malaysia or maybe penang. I agree with her that Penang Restaurant represents an introduction to Malaysian cuisine BUT NOT necessarily actual Penang Island food selection. Possible reasons being the unavailability of spices, non suitability to foreign palates and may be the cooks are not from Penang Island.
    I do have to correct Pixen on the use of BOH branded tea in teh tarik/pulled tea. (Pulled tea can be added with ice to make the ice tea) The hot frothy beverage sweetened with condensed milk is synonymous with Indian Muslim street stalls found all over Malaysia and many stay open at least 15hrs a day. They actually use cheap tea leaves as this is more affordable but this doesn’t mean its weak as the ‘barista’ adds several spoons to give the tea a strong kick.
    Malaysia has a diverse cuisine selection due to the intermingling of several ethnic groups and occupation of different colonial powers. This makes the country a very unique place for architecture, culture and cuisine.

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