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
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
The sugar cane was crushed by this juice making machine. Truly fresh! Watch the video for more.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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
10.30 am to 7.00 pm, Daily
Contact Penang Air Itam Assam Laksa:
Phone: +60 12-500 7063
I do not recommend going there by Foot. Catch a cab, or better still, go by Grab.
There are no train services.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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,