You guys didn't think I was done writing about Penang, did you? Because I seriously loved that city too much to pen just a one-off post.
My last day in Penang wasn't the typical travel day- it was a private culinary tour, which trust me, is not the norm in my travels. But considering how much I love food tours- see here and here– I couldn't resist experiencing one in a private car.
Here are the highlights of my very special last day in Penang.
Having Breakfast at a Wet Market
Our Penang-born guide, C. K. Low, picked Dylan and me up in an old-school burgundy Benz at 9 a.m. sharp. As soon as I felt the air-conditioning I couldn't help but look forward to the day ahead of me.
C. K. Low and Dylan enjoying iced coffees and banana fritters.
Under C.K. Low's expert guidance we sampled everything from banana peanut fritters to char kway teow, Penang's signature noodle dish.
I won't go into too much detail as a Malaysian food post is coming very soon to an inbox near you. But seriously guys- yum.
Clockwise from upper left- char kway teow, putu mayam, putu mayam being steamed, the banana and peanut fritter.
Visiting a Thai Buddhist Temple, Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram
Next we headed to Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram (Thai: วัดไชยมังคลาราม). While the Buddha was not quite as quite as splendrous as the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok, the temple was certainly beautiful, peaceful and nearly void of visitors.
I also loved hearing about C. K. Low's Thai ancestry while at the temple, as he explained the strong Thai influence in Penang.
Visiting a Traditional Soy Sauce Factory
I'm not sure if this is normal, but I absolutely love soy sauce. So I was excited to see a soy sauce factory up close- and how beautiful are these pots?
We also got to taste the soy sauce, which naturally, was delicious- thick and syrupy and bubbling with that addictive umami flavor. It was a far cry from La Choy, a.k.a. liquid salt.
Trying Nyonya Food at Pinang Peranakan Restaurant
Our next stop? Nyonya appetizers at Pinang Peranakan Restaurant.
From the moment I walked into the building (which dates back to 1880!) I was in love: tall airy ceilings, a red and green tile floor, a British Colonial meets Straits-Chinese feel.
While Dylan and I were much too full from breakfast for an entire meal, we ordered Peranakan top hats, or Koay Pai Tee.
Honestly though I wasn't over the moon about the top hats- they kind of remind me of wedding hors d'oeuvres. But on my next visit to Penang I fully intend to return to Pinang Peranakan Restaurant for a full Peranakan meal.
Spotting the Ocean
Yeah. No explanation necessary here. Can you imagine waking up to this view everyday?
Finding Tons of Colonial Mansions
So at the end of our tour, I asked C. K. Low if we could see Penang's colonial mansions. And I was not disappointed. While some were a bit shabby, others were in immaculate condition. But shabby or not, I still relished the chance to see such unique and historical architecture.
Sigh. Aren't they just dreamy?
As we were driving Dylan, who hails from England, said, “Look, there's a cricket pavilion!” which I never would have known. One of the benefits of traveling with a Brit is definitely their ability to identify relics of a British colonial past. (That and I've met some who travel with teabags, which is genius.)
All in all the tour reminded me of why I loved Penang so much- you're never more than a stone's throw from a colonial mansion or a really, really good meal.
Have you ever gone on a private culinary tour?
A big thanks to Rasa Malaysia Penang Private Tour for hosting me and showing me what I should be eating in Penang.
Also after reading TripAdvisor reviews, I would definitely recommend requesting C. K. Low. He was very personable and professional, and lots of people on TripAdvisor experienced no-shows with other drivers.