Padang Brown Food Court, Penang

My first stop whenever I return to my home country of Malaysia is Padang Brown, a food court in George Town, on the island of Penang. There are bigger hawker centers (as food courts are called in Malaysia), but this one, which hasn't changed much since it opened, in the 1960s, is full of great childhood memories for me, and I think it's still the best. I always go for the popiah, spring rolls stuffed with julienned vegetables, loads of sweet crabmeat, and juicy shredded pork. And I never miss the cheh hoo, a Chinese version of the Malaysian salad called pasembur: jicama, carrots, cucumbers, prawn fritters, and crunchy slivers of jellyfish topped with a spicy-sweet potato sauce—refreshing and filling at the same time. When I was a kid, my dad's favorite was yong tau foo, a meat- and vegetable-packed consomme. I can still picture him wielding his chopsticks over the stall's boiling cauldrons and picking out pieces of pork and tripe for the hawker to cut up with his ancient shears and put into the broth with fried garlic. For dessert, it has to be cendol—"worms" made of mung bean flour and pandan leaf-flavored gelatin swimming in coconut milk and palm sugar. I'm hungry just thinking about it. —Yvonne Khoo, Summit, New Jersey

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