Penang Food - Assam Laksa at Air Itam

Penang Food – Assam Laksa at Air Itam

Penang Food – Assam Laksa at Air Itam

The visit to Kek Lok Si Temple was very awesome. We enjoyed the prayer halls, huge statues, peaceful gardens, and the breathtaking view of George Town. After burning lots of calories walking the grounds, we were ravenous.

We made our way down the hill, and found the famous Penang Air Itam Assam Laksa. It was quite by chance that we found this gem. We had heard about a famous Assam Laksa but we did not know it was the one near Kek Lok Si Temple.

Join us today for this delightful and delicious adventure where I will share with you about this famous Penang Food, what it is, where to find it, and why this is one of the Penang dishes that you must try when you visit this enchanting city.


Assam Laksa at Air Itam – The Overview & Rankings

Name: Penang Air Itam Assam Laksa
Cuisine: Asian, Local, Penang Food
Meals Served: Assam Laksa
Dining Choices: Dine In, Takeout, Outdoor seating
Family Friendly: Yes
Food: 4.0 out of 5.0
Service: 4.0 out of 5.0
Value: 4.0 out of 5.0
Atmosphere: 2.0 out of 5.0
Prices: $ out of $$$$$
Asia Travel Gems Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0 4 Star Rating


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Assam Laksa at Air Itam – The Video

What does the Air Itam Assam Laksa food stall look like? How is the seating arrangement? How is the food prepared? What does the laksa look like? What drinks can you get there? And what dessert is sold nearby? Answers to all these questions in the video below. Enjoy watching.


About Penang Air Itam Assam Laksa

The official name of this food stall is Pasar Air Itam Laksa. It was started in 1955 by Ms Lee Lay Hua, and now run by her son, Mr Ang Kak Seong.

The road where the famous Penang Air Itam Assam Laksa is located
The road where the famous Penang Air Itam Assam Laksa is located, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

It is a small and unassuming food stall along Jalan Pasar, next to the Air Itam market. Look out for their signage, and the crowds seated at the tables waiting hungrily for this yummy bowl of pleasure. You can’t miss it.

Penang Food - Assam Laksa at Air Itam Signage
Penang Food – Assam Laksa at Air Itam Signage, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

Penang Air Itam Assam Laksa

Assam Laksa is also known as Penang Laksa. It is a dish born from two cultures – the Chinese and Malay.

The Delicious Bowl of Assam Laksa - really good!
The Delicious Bowl of Assam Laksa – really good!, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

The unique feature of this delicacy is its thick and sour minced fish soup that is a little spicy. The spiciness is due to a mix of assam (tamarind), lemongrass, galangal (lenkuas) and chili. It helps to reduce the fishy smell of the minced mackerel generously topped on the white noodles (also known as vermicelli).

The noodles are boiled then immersed with the aromatic soup. The chef (also the owner) drains and pours the soup into the noodles a few times. This is done quickly so that the noodles are thoroughly covered in the gravy and the dish stays piping hot.

The chef (and owner) serving a delicious bowl of Assam Laksa
The chef (and owner) serving a delicious bowl of Assam Laksa, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

Slices of cucumber, onions, red chili, pineapple, lettuce as well as mint, ginger flower bud and shrimp paste are added with the assistance of a few kitchen staff. The shrimp paste adds some sweet taste to the soup. The bowl is served brimming with the soup and minced mackerel.


How to Order the Food?

There is a long stretch of tables with chairs just next to the food stall. Simply find a table and seats for your party. Look out for one of the staff, and place your orders.

Long row of tables and chairs for customers to enjoy the Assam Laksa
Long row of tables and chairs for customers to enjoy the Assam Laksa, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

Tip: Find an empty table quickly. A server will be along shortly to take your order. If you can’t find an empty table, just stand around and wait till the customers have finished their meal, and leave. Be polite. Do not stare at them eating or look impatient.

Tip: Payment is immediate upon delivery of the order. Cash only. For prices – read our Final Word below.


Fresh Sugar Cane Juice

There was a drink stall nearby that served fresh sugar cane juice. It was perfect because after hours of walking at Kek Lok Si Temple, it was refreshing to drink this cooling juice.

Fresh Sugar Cane Juice to go with your bowl of Assam Laksa
Fresh Sugar Cane Juice to go with your bowl of Assam Laksa, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

The sugar cane was crushed by this juice making machine. Truly fresh! Watch the video for more.

Making Fresh Sugar Cane Juice
Making Fresh Sugar Cane Juice, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

Muah Chee

The bowl of laksa was small. And that was all right. Because we wanted room for more snacks. And just a short walk away, there was a push cart selling Muah Chee.

Stall selling really delicious Muah Chee, near the Assam Laksa shop
Stall selling really delicious Muah Chee, near the Assam Laksa shop, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

He told us he had been selling Muah Chee for many years. And guaranteed quality and taste. He even gave us samples! We were convinced and bought a packet to go.

Muah Chee Takeaway
Muah Chee Takeaway, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

It was very tasty! How come we can’t have this quality and taste of Muah Chee in Singapore?

I remembered I captured a video of a hotel chef making Muah Chee. Here is a shot from the video.

Hotel Chef making Muah Chee
Hotel Chef making Muah Chee, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

Check out the video above to see how he prepared this dessert.


Penang Air Itam Assam Laksa – Asia Travel Gems Final Word

Each bowl of this super delicious laksa only costs 5 Malaysian Ringgit! (price at this point of time, January 2018)

4 star rating

That is so affordable, right? It can even be said that it is really cheap because of the value of the dish.

The soup is thick, and has a mix of sweet, sour and spicy taste. Together with the noodles and ingredients, it was a heavenly combination.

It only lost an entire point because of the dining conditions. If it was cleaner, more comfortable, maybe even air conditioned, it might win an extra 0.5 points. Then again, would it cost only 5 Malaysian Ringgit?

The bowl served was small. We wanted seconds. You might want it, too.

Tip: Take your time to savor each bite. We gulped ours too fast. Now I long for it again.


How To Get There?

Pasar Air Itam Laksa is located at the junction of Jalan Pasar and Jalan Paya Terubong near Kek Lok Si Temple. See the map below.

Address of Penang Air Itam Assam Laksa:

Jalan Pasar, 11500 Air Itam, Penang, Malaysia

Operating hours:

10.30 am to 7.00 pm, Daily

Contact Penang Air Itam Assam Laksa:

Phone: +60 12-500 7063

Email: info@penanglaksa.com

Website: penanglaksa.com

By Foot

I do not recommend going there by Foot. Catch a cab, or better still, go by Grab.

 By Train

There are no train services.

By Bus

There is a Free bus service operated by Rapid Penang. It can bring you to major attractions, shops and city events. It is called the Central Area Transit (CAT). Get a map from their website, and simply board their buses at any specially marked stops on specified routes. The only concern here is that you will have to travel within their bus schedules.

By Car

If you drove to Penang, you are at an advantage. Traffic is not as heavy as cities such as Kuala Lumpur. Navigating around is easy, especially if you have Waze app. There is ample parking spaces on the streets. But may be full on peak periods.

By Taxi

They rarely go by meter.

Tip: Negotiate and agree on a price before you take the taxi.

Better Tip: Do not take the cab, go by Grab (see below).

By Grab

This is my preferred option. One reason is that there is no need to negotiate. Another is that the price is usually reasonable and affordable. No hassles.

It is so easy to travel around in cities now because of Grab. Just download the app, state your destination, a driver is assigned to you, take the transport, and you arrive at your destination. Comfortable and easy.

I have switched to Grab for my travels within a city ever since this option became available.


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If you have ANY questions about this review, about Penang Food – Assam Laksa at Air Itam, ANY at all, please submit your questions as comments below. I will be happy to help you out.

Thank you for reading this.

Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels,

Timotheus

14 Comments

  1. This is a great article and very detailed for the Penair Air Itam Assam Laska sounds like a wonderful place to visit and cost effective as well. I love the flavor of sour sweet and spicy and think this would be on my list of too do’s if I ever get to Penang. I have always been interested in different foods and different cultures. You struct my interest with the Muah Chee it looks delightful, can you tell me what is in it? I am all about desserts.

    1. Hi Dena! The Pasar Air Itam Assam Laksa is definitely a good choice when you are in Penang.
      The Muah Chee is actually chewy and springy glutinous rice balls coated with a mix of crushed peanuts and sugar. It is very fun and enjoyable as a snack or dessert. It is often found sold as street food in Singapore and Malaysia. If you come across a vendor selling Muah Chee, you must try it! 🙂

  2. Oh my god! Isn’t this the best food on earth? I am from Johor Bahru but now I am living in London. I have been to Penang before but haven’t actually tried this. Arghh I am saving this post! Gonna visit this place once I’ve got the chance. Looking forward to your next post!

    1. It truly is, Crystal! You’re from JB? I’m in Singapore! And wow! How is it living in London now?

      Oh, you must try this when you are back, and in Penang. It is awesome!

      Thanks! Please subscribe to the Best Places To Visit in Asia newsletter to get updates. 🙂

  3. I love sugar cane juice, but I got some serious stomach problems from it last time I had it in India. Apparently the machine wasn’t terribly clean and I have a weak American stomach.

    Would I need to worry about this here as well, or is it safe for a foreigner to dive right in?

    1. No worries, Craig. Come on in. The water’s fine. 🙂

  4. Wow, your photos are great and really made me want to visit! The muah chee looked interesting. I’ve never heard of it before, can you tell me what it is?

    1. Thanks Amy! Glad you like my photos. All taken by me. Including the video too.

      Glad to share with you about Muah Chee. The Muah Chee is actually chewy and springy glutinous rice balls coated with a mix of crushed peanuts and sugar. It is very fun and enjoyable as a snack or dessert. It is often found sold as street food in Singapore and Malaysia. If you come across a vendor selling Muah Chee, you must try it! 🙂

  5. Hello
    your posts on Penang are quite interesting to me, I have someone one day I would like to meet there if the opportunity ever becomes available.

    The food looks delicious and tempting, but I have many food intolerance and allergies and I wonder if I can go to Penang and eat their food?

    One day maybe I too will experience Penang, but for you I am enjoying every post of yours on Penang.
    Jeff

    1. Thanks Jeff. I am happy that you are enjoying my posts of Penang. And I too hope you will get to experience Penang one day.
      When you decide to visit Penang, please do consider booking with Agoda. They have great discounts for hotels that are really good.
      Regarding your food allergies and intolerance, what are they? Perhaps I can help you find out?

  6. The look of this food is making me hungry!! I am a huge soup fan and I love to cook and eat food from many cultures. I have never tried this soup dish Assam Laksa but now it is on my “must haves”. It sounds like everything I love combined into one delicious dish! I want to visit. I may not to ever want to leave! At least not without an authentic recipe or a tutorial on how these delicious dishes are made. Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Hi Christina. Very happy that you enjoyed this post. The Assam Laksa is indeed a very delicious dish! It is a popular dish, and with many variations of it in Southeast Asia. But everyone here knows that if you want to taste the authentic taste of Assam Laksa, you must go to Penang. Do try it when you are there.

      I totally know what you mean when you say you might not ever want to leave. That was how I felt when I was there. I miss Penang. And I long to visit this amazing city again.

      I am sure you can find books sharing the recipe at bookstores in Penang. There may be even YouTube videos. But for the recipe of the Laksa at Air Itam, I am afraid that is their trade secret. haha

      Please do subscribe to the Best Places to Visit in Asia newsletter for updates. 🙂

  7. You are doing an exceptional job sharing about Penang, I must admit the food appears to be very tasty. Being an American most of the food in your post is brand new to me, I really love how you supplied ways to visit Penang. I hope to visit Penang myself one day, and this is all because of your posts.

    Jeff

    1. Thanks Jeff. I am so happy to hear that my posts encourage you to visit a city like Penang. Do check out the other cities I write about. Maybe you will be tempted to visit them too? haha

      The food in Penang is really delicious! If you visit Asia, you must visit this city for its great food. 🙂

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