Chicken curry mee from my favorite spot in George Town (photo by David Hagerman)
Thank you for stopping by!
NEWS: I am away from Penang and unable to conduct food walks/tours from December 19, 2014 and March 1, 2015.
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.
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.
What makes my food walks special:
- I've been doing this longer than any other culinary tour operators in Malaysia. I began giving food tours in Kuala Lumpur in 2008, and in Penang in 2010. And I've been researching and writing about the foods of Malaysia and Asia for over 9 years.
- I'm a one-woman operation, so when you book a walk you know that you'll be walking with the person who worked out the details of your booking with you.
- My food walks are private (no strangers booked together) and customized to your likes, dislikes and interests. There is no "set itinerary" -- I vary the vendors I include on my food walks according to what my clients can, and want to, eat. I'll even change course mid-stream if a client expresses a desire to try a food that wasn't on the original itinerary.
- I'm a George Town resident. As such I'm constantly "testing" the offerings of street food vendors around the city to ensure that the offerings of those I include on my food walks remain up to standard.
- Showing visitors "my George Town" via its food is a beloved sideline, not my main profession. Even in high season I don't accept more than 2-3 bookings / week -- so you can expect no canned monologue.
Interested? Contact me at email@example.com, or via Twitter: @EatingAsia.
I am able to confirm availability no more than 4 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 column on southeast 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. In 2014 my food blog EatingAsia, which I co-publish with photographer David Hagerman, was named Editor's Choice for Culinary Travel in the Saveur magazine Food Blog Awards.
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 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 in 2011 moved up here from Kuala Lumpur to oversee the refurbishment of a late 19th-century shop house inside the UNESCO conservation zone. (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.
Below, an abbreviated sampling of my writings on food and travel Penang, Malaysia and beyond (click article title for link):
Wall Street Journal Asia