Much has been said about Penang’s famous nasi kandar; people from other states come in droves for a taste of the fluffy white rice drenched in a spicy mix of curries served with a wide array of dishes. Malaysians will tell you that the best nasi kandar can be enjoyed is in Penang where it all started by the Indian Muslim. 

It is a meal of steamed rice which can be plain and served with a variety of curry-based meat, seafood dishes and vegetables. You may hear one saying “kuah campur banjir” which this phrase mean extra gravy until the rice is drenched all with mixture of curries. This how a local eat their delicious Nasi Kandar. A typical way to order a Nasi Kandar is a friend chicken, lady finger and a salted egg with “kuah camper banjir” and eat with your hand. The mixture of the curries is equally important and as the curries.

There are two distinct style of nasi kandar available in Penang. First, there is  the Indian Muslim style that is a marriage of local flavours with spices and herbs. The curries are often of a darker reddish tone, thick and usually spicy, depending on the stall.

The second style is a more localised Malay one with simpler, straightforward flavours that are less spicy and yet fragrant with hints of turmeric and local spices.

Nasi is mean rice and Kandar is yoking their fare on their shoulders. The original way of selling it by Indian-Muslim traders is by carrying the food in containers hanging on a “kandar” (a pole) on their shoulders but today it has evolve to conventional restaurants. In the 1900s, itinerant Indian Muslim hawkers would sell rice and curry to dock workers at Weld Quay in George Town, Penang. They would carry their rice and curries in pots which they hung on a bamboo pole carried on their shoulders.

There are many Nasi Kandar in Penang and at any hour of the day or night. Even at 1am or 3am, one can find a good Nasi kandar for your hunger. Here are the few Nasi Kandar stalls in George Town that we recommended. Don’t forget to ask for  “kuah campur banjir”.

Hameediyah Restaurant @ 164, Lebuh Campbell (10am – 10pm)

Deen Maju Nasi Kandar restaurant @ 170, Jalan Gurdwara (4pm – 10pm)

Nasi Kandar Imigresen @ 8, Lorong Pasar (11am – 9:30pm)

Tajuddin Hussain Nasi Kandar @ 45-63, Lebuh Queen (10am-3pm, 6pm-9pm)