Here are some things you can count on when you go to Penang in Chinatown: you won’t have to wait longer than a few minutes for a table, you’ll get to choose from a bunch of Malaysian (and Thai) options on the menu, and you’ll walk out having spent $20 or less on consistently great food.
Penang is open from 11:30am until midnight every single day. That makes it an especially good place to stop into when you’re looking for a good meal at an off-hour, like a 3pm lunch or an 11pm dinner. But no matter when you come in here, the menu is always the same - with pages and pages of delicious and interesting Malaysian and Thai dishes. Some of our favorites are a crispy roti pancake with chicken and potato dipping sauce for only $4, satay skewers for $7.50, and a huge plate of coconutty, lemongrass-y beef rendang that’ll last a week for $15.
Everything you order at Penang is meant to be shared family-style, and your time here is best spent ordering a few big plates of food and passing them around one of their huge round tables. You could probably come alone during lunch and have a great meal as well, but a place like Penang really shines when you show up with a few friends, share some great food, and don’t have to worry about how much you’ve spent.
The roti pancake is thin and equal parts chewy and crispy. But the sauce that comes with it is what makes this appetizer a must-order for the table. It’s almost like a spicy curry sauce with super tender pieces of chicken and potato. Even after the roti is gone, you’ll probably want to eat the curry with a spoon.
In addition to the roti, the satay is the other dish you need to get every time you come here. The chicken thigh skewers are perfectly seasoned on their own, and when you dip them in the sweet peanut sauce - it’s freaking incredible.
The fried pearl noodles taste a little like lo mein, with a salty, soy-based sauce and shrimp, pork, and scallions mixed in. The portion is huge, so it’s good to share with a big group.
Only get the mango tofu if you’re prepared to eat an entire wok full of food, or if you can split it with at least four people. The tofu itself is perfectly cooked, and the bright orange mango sauce is sweet and tangy.
This huge plate of tender beef covered in a lemongrass and coconut sauce is simple, delicious, and a ton of food for just $15.