North of Kuala Lumpur, Penang is about a 6-hour bus ride from KL with an international airport if you prefer to spend a bit more for the 1-2 hour plane ride. Penang’s hot, humid, but god damn it the food is worth the literal pain in the ass1.
But, but, what’s there to see in Penang2 ? Well, not much3. Penang’s inner city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but really, you come here for the food. So in a city that’s all about chow, where do you start? Easy. Nasi Kandar Line Clear.If you google “nasi kandar,” Line Clear is the first thing you’ll see after the Wikipedia entry. It’s a dish that originated in Penang, which is rice with side dishes and curries. I’ve only had nasi kandar from Line Clear, but make no mistake that it is clearly the best one in the world. Even famous people agree.
We arrived in Penang around 2 in the afternoon, headed over to Line Clear at around 3PM and the humble, not-very-clean street establishment is PACKED4. We wait for like 20 minutes then it’s another struggle to find a seat.
I go straight for the classic. I had the fried chicken, steamed rice, fresh cucumber, and the fish roe topped with curries. It was just an explosion of flavors there. The cucumber was refreshing with the heat, the fish roe not as disgusting as you might think5, and the fried chicken (some argue) is one of the best in the world.
Wait, what?? Better than KFC? Oh, yeah.
It’s moist, juicy, not very oily, and the skin is just really crispy. Top it off with the curries — orgasmic.
Best to cool down with refreshing drinks on a hot afternoon. Their drinks doesn’t really taste much that I can’t even tell what they were. You just grab one of these from the tables and they somehow know how to charge you for them. It was very refreshing, though. Hot, hot day after all.
We also go for another nasi kandar variety of biryani and those giant motherfuckin’ prawns. Again, awesome. Not the best biryani or the best prawns, but just a great dish when you put it all together. You’d think that all those curries they mix would mask up the flavors, but it really doesn’t. Just brought it all together IMHO. And of course, you have to suck the head, right? That’s what she said.
Notice that I haven’t mentioned cost up to this point and there’s a very, very good reason for that: I forgot. The trip’s been more than a year now but it’s there wasn’t exactly a menu or a receipt. It was very cheap, though6.
There isn’t even a discussion as to where you should have your nasi kandar. Sure, there’s no such thing as service here7. It’s known that this is the best in the world. If you don’t believe me, ask the crowd. It was around 4PM when we finished and guess what, there was still more people lined up.