Wherever you go in the world, the food of the street represents the identity of the people. Clues to culture, race, and religion can be found in the local cuisine.
Simply put, you haven't experienced Penang, not the real Penang, until you've eaten on its streets. And the same, I would argue, could be said for any other place in the world that street food still exists.
Street food naysayers miss the point. When it comes to eating on the street it's not only about the food. (And it's not about proving your traveling cohones either.) Be open to the whole experience, and a street food meal will give as much insight into a place and a culture as any guidebook intro. Plus, you get to fill your belly at the same time.