When we were little kids our parents would always warn us (or more likely scare us off) about the horrors of night time. We used to have this routine of looking under the bed, checking the closets, locking the windows and leaving a night light on, afraid of the nightmares and monsters that we thought would come their way. Our parents either want us and them to sleep early or just scare us off as young as possible to stay in our house at night. As we grew older we become eager of these so called ‘horrors’ and started sneaking out to discover the adventure and thrill the night has to offer. I mean our parents are just concerned for our safety so we might as well be cautious when wandering off the mysteries of the dark.
Exploring a city by day has it perks of course of sunshine and adventure but when the sun goes down, the real adventure begins. The secrets begin to pour and the excitement builds up and gets better and better when the night falls. Nightlife brings out great waves of curiosity, shock and excitement, making you realize that sometimes nightfall becomes brighter than daylight.
Like many cities in Asia, night markets or street markets are around to shine a light for the mysteries of the night, bringing out the best of shopping, entertainment and especially the food.
The Chulia Street Night Market is a must visit-should definitely not miss for any foodie or practically any hungry human being visiting Penang. In the evening, the street of Chulia brightens up and gets bustling with about a dozen and more hawkers set up their stalls in push-carts with tables and chairs set up in the roadside like one big ole feast just for you.
Here are some of the stalls you should definitely check out:
Mother & Son Wan Tan Mee
We’ve fallen in love with wantan mee once and we’ve fallen in love with wan tan mee all over again but this time at night. The Mother & Son Wan Tan Mee food stall is definitely on its radar, the queue is crazy long, so you better order ahead. Wan tan mee is served in a dish of noodles with delicious and oily dark soy sauce, fresh wontons, vegetables and the star of the dish: the char siew.
An appetizing dish that consists of a balance of sweet, spicy and sour. Assam Laksa is a fish-based stock with a kick of tamarind to contrast out the noodles and some garnish like fried spring rolls. Feasting through this dish is a best way to kickstart the rest of the food trail.
This dish was originally from a province in China, Fujian, and was brought to Malaysia by Hokkien and Teochew during the British Colonial Administration. All this colonizing did good with the food because this delicate dish is composed of julienned yam beans, diced bean curd, and fresh spring onions enveloped in popiah skin, a paper thin crepe. These fresh spring rolls are served with chili sauce.
Nothing perfectly describes Asian street food best like Lok Lok. It’s basically deep fried or boiled food on stick! A colorful array of raw stuff like seafood, meatballs, sausages, pork intestines, vegetables, squid balls, fish balls and almost anything edible you can imagine skewered and then deep fried or boiled. But the lok lok excitement doesn’t stop there, they also have a variety of flavorful dipping sauces to accompany your sticks of choice. This reminds me a lot of Filipino street food too, and take note: ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBLE DIPPING!
I’ve never thanked the Chinese enough for their contributions to the food world but as I’ve tasted one of the best culinary invention they’ve created, I’ll thank them more. Lorbak is pork marinated in the famous Chinese Five-Spice: cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise and szechuan pepper, mixed with some carrots, onions and some water chestnuts rolled snugly in a bean curd sheet and fried. Make sure to slather them with the sauce choices of: chili sauce (duh basically a favorite) and a thick starchy cinnamon and soy sauce dip.
Fresh Fruit Juice
Close your eyes, now imagine a pick and mix of the freshest fruits and then you’re suddenly in a juice bar, now open your eyes. The night market is loaded with fresh fruit juice stalls and these are considered the best thirst quenchers! Any sort of concoction of your request can be made into a cup of juice, from zesty oranges, plump apples and the oozing nectar-y mangoes. Fresh fruits are nonetheless the best crescendo after following and buzzing around the Chulia Night Market food trail.
After that heavy feast, you can officially leave back to your hotel, hostel or wherever you are staying with a full stomach knowing that the night is not scary after all.