For me, Penang was always one of the restaurants that defined Philly’s Chinatown. Before I lived here, it was the place my wife and I would go whenever we were in town—the place that would become the warm, steamy center of every jaunt along 10th Street. But after moving here full-time and taking a job that was within walking distance of the place, for some reason I pretty much stopped going. Until now. Happily, virtually nothing about Penang has changed. In an age of menus that seem to switch up every 15 minutes, Penang’s enormous board is mercifully unaltered.
The roti canai remains the best I have ever had. The beef rendang is rich and spicy with coconut milk and lemongrass. And for those of you who’ve ever wondered what Philly’s cuisine would be like had we been invaded by Malaysians a hundred years ago, I give you Penang lobak—a spiced and fried pork roll served with shrimp pancakes and chili sauce.
117 North 10th Street
First appeared in the July, 2013 issue of Philadelphia magazine.