The Penang International Food Festival is back for a second year, and the organisers have adjusted the programme to incorporate the most successful elements from 2017, and experiment with a few new ideas. So what are the highlights?
Last year without doubt the crowning glory of the festival was the well-organised, nostalgic and enjoyable Street Food Festival, and unsurprisingly it returns this year. During the weekend of April 14th-15th, once again part of Beach Street and parts of adjacent Bishop and Church Streets will be closed to traffic and from 5pm until 11pm and the area will be filled with glorious smells, music and laughter.
Hawkers from all over the state will set up their stalls and hungry diners can sample their traditional recipes.Copious seating is also provided in Bishop and Church Streets, and the queues, though long for some stalls, were good-humoured and fast moving last year. The old-style fun fair, clowns in the street, stage with traditional music and dancing, and fireworks to close the night all add to the sense of occasion.
Taste of Penang also returns for a second year, during the weekend of April 21st and 22nd, from 5pm until 11pm along Jalan Kelawai in the areas front of Gurney Paragon and Gurney Plaza. Stalls set up by Penang’s modern cafés, restaurants and hotels offer visitors a chance to taste the dishes that they are most proud of, both new versions of Asian favourites and modern Western cuisine. Cooking demonstrations and other live performances are also promised.
For the third weekend, April 28th-29th, the festival organisers are trying something different this year. A Food Truck Invasion will see an expected 150 food trucks heading to the Design Village Outlet Mall in Batu Kawan, on the mainland at the end of the second bridge. From 5pm until 11pm each day food trucks from all over Southeast Asia will be present and serving their coffee, cakes, burgers, Asian food, and everything you might imagine is possible to cook inside a truck, in what, if the numbers who have promised to do so actually do show up, may break the Guinness World record for the largest gathering of food trucks (which currently stands at 123). Diners and snackers will be entertained by buskers, and there will be more fireworks at the end of the evening.
There are also a number of smaller events on week days in between the big three weekend events, some of them making good use of the recently renovated back alley between Jalan Magazine and Jalan Gurdwara, which is now lit up at night and properly paved. On Monday 16th April from 5pm until 11pm will be Meatless Monday, with stalls offering a range of vegetarian dishes. On Tuesday 17th at the same time will be Kopi O, with stalls offering the traditional-style coffee accompanied by nasi lemak and Nyonya kuih.
Then the action moves to nearby Hin Bus Depot, for the Mini Curry Festival on Wednesday 18th from 5pm until 11pm, where diners will be able to compare and contrast curries prepared in Malay, Indian, Chinese, Japanese and many other styles. On Thursday 19th April Thirsty Thursday is a chance to barhop through the various cafés and bars within the complex, accompanied by a “Thirst Guide”. Tickets for RM 100 per person include 6 food and drink items, and are available for different time slots beginning at 6pm, 7pm, 8pm, 9pm and 10pm, with the experience expected to last around 2.5 hours. Meanwhile, atmosphere and ambience will be created with live performances by jazz singer Dasha Logan and DJ Josh Mosh amongst others. Contact email@example.com to book.
On Friday April 20th 5pm until 11pm, The Saw Emporium at Gat Lebuh Macallum is the venue for Crispy Fryday, where favourite fried dishes such as crispy spring rolls and fried bananas will be on offer, together with live music, and a good excuse to visit this sympathetically re-purposed former sawmill if you haven’t already done so.
The following week, the Butterworth Art Walk at Lorong Bagan Luar on the mainland will play host to the RM2 mini-food festival, on Monday and Tuesday April 23rd-24th from 5pm until 11pm. The concept is smaller portions of hawker food at lower prices, so that you can try more dishes while at the same time admiring the surrounding street art.
There are also three pricer and more exclusive events, Dining ..Amid Water, Dining…Amid Heritage and Dining…Amid Stars, on Wednesday 25th, Thursday 26th and Friday 27th respectively, all at RM 168 per person. Water involves dining on a ferry, Heritage is a meal at the restaurant gen, and Stars is a meal at Coco Cabana, on the floor of Komtar. More details and booking instructions can be found at the Festival website.
Further information and updates on all events will be posted on the Festival’s facebook page https://www.facebook.com/penanginternationalfoodfestival/ and website www.piff.com.my