Alex Frew McMillan
George Town is a place to while and wander, its narrow streets still full of old Chinese shophouses in various states of repair. The scents of Peranakan food - the perfect mix of Straits Chinese and Malay - waft down Jalan Penang as you head towards the sea. At Kafe Kheng Pin, office workers crowd around grey marble tabletops and make quick work of Hokkien shrimp noodles and friend won tons.
Gurney Drive is where the locals eat. It's a short drive from Lebuh Leith, down Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah. The town comes together here in the evening, along a beachside road lined with hawker stalls. As the sun goes down, what seems like the whole population of Penang comes out, snapping up favourite dishes and settling down over paper plates at plastic tables.
Vendors scoop out bowls of the local speciality, asam laksa, or 'sour laksa'. It substitutes sardines and a thin brown fish soup, where its sweet curried cousin would use include coconut milk. Sprinkled with red chillies, it's more tangy than tart. Load the table up with sticks of satay, grilled stingray and local favourite, la la, small clams cooked with galangal and lemongrass.