Chicken curry mee from my favorite spot in George Town (photo by David Hagerman)
Thank you for stopping by!
NEWS: I am either fully booked or away from Penang and unable to conduct food walks/tours for the following dates in 2014: January 24 - February 25; March 12 - May 4; May 18 - July 1.
If, like me, you believe that one of the best ways to get to know a place is through its food, then consider an EatingAsia culinary excursion in George Town, Penang.
George Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its lovely pre-World War II cityscape (the largest intact collection of historic architecture in Asia), multi-cultural heritage and lively street life. It’s also renowned for its street food (called “hawker food” here in Malaysia) – dishes prepared and served by specialists from mobile carts on the street and in kopitiam (coffee shops).
It’s a wonderfully walkable city, and so on my most popular excursion we take in George Town’s culinary highlights on foot, eating as we go. Walks run 2.5 to 3 hours and take place in the morning before it gets too hot. I also offer "split" walks -- 4 hours divided between the morning and late afternoon/evening -- that give a sense of how George Town's street food landscape changes a.m. to p.m. Other possibilities include excursions by car beyond George Town -- to a small but lovely market, for example, to experience Penang’s best Hokkien mee (prawn/pork noodle soup), peanut and dark palm sugar-filled griddle-cooked crispy “pancakes”, Indian appom and Nyonya dishes, or here and there to sample some of the island's best hawker eats.
My walks and excursions are Un-Tours, something akin to exploring Penang with a food-obsessed friend. They are private and tailored to your interests, likes and dislikes. I am a one-woman operation, which means that when you book a tour with me you get me, not an assistant.
I require a minimum of 2 people (maximum of 4/5) and I do not book strangers together. After you reserve a walk with a deposit I'll email a list of recommended George Town hawker stalls/restaurants not covered on our walk. I can also, if you like, provide a list of boutique hotels that I have reviewed for publication and would recommend without reservation.
Interested? Contact me at [email protected], or via Twitter: @EatingAsia. I am able to confirm availability up to 5 weeks in advance. Last-minute bookings are rarely doable, but feel free to drop me a line.
I’m an American journalist, writing on food and travel in Asia and Turkey for the New York Times, Saveur, Food & Wine, SBS Feast and other publications. I write a bi-monthly column on Asian street food for Wall Street Journal Asia and am a Contributing Writer at Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia and ZesterDaily.com. I was the founding Food Editor at Time Out Kuala Lumpur, where for two years I wrote a monthly feature on the city's food on and off the street.
While Penang is home my other love is Turkey, where I've been traveling often since 1998. In 2016 Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (USA) will publish my first cookbook, filled with recipes and stories of home cooks, bakers, artisan food producers, farmers, butchers, fishermen and markets in Istanbul and eastern Turkey.
I have lived in north and southeast Asia for 17 years and in Malaysia for more than seven. George Town is my home: I fell in love with the city in 2009 and moved up here from Kuala Lumpur to oversee the refurbishment of a late 19th-century shop house inside the UNESCO conservation zone. (I moved in in May. My not-very-often-updated blog on the renovation project is here.)
What I bring to my culinary excursions is a background in food and recipe writing and research, and a broad understanding of cuisines, ingredients, street food culture and culinary history not only in Penang and Malaysia but across the region. I am mad for the food in this part of the world and have been interviewed about my passion on Canadian, Singaporean and American radio. I’ve been offering culinary excursions in Malaysia (and occasionally Chiang Mai, where I spent 5 months researching a book on market neighborhood Gat Luang), for over three years.
Below, an abbreviated sampling of my writings on food and travel in Penang and Malaysia (click article title for link):
Wall Street Journal Asia