Top 15 Foods to Try in Malaysia

The sum of many delicious parts, Malaysian cuisine influences include Chinese, Indian and Malay. In some ways it’s similar to Indonesian food, with the two nations sharing many of the same dishes. (Warning: debates over dish origins can turn nasty in these parts — such is the passion of the region’s food lovers.)

Regardless, once you’re in Malaysia and eating, you’ll quickly dispense with historical concerns and wonder instead where your next meal is coming from and how you can you get to it sooner.

Here’s a list of food that you should try atleast once in your life. We do warn you, that some of this dishes

1. Mee Goreng Mamak

This Indian Muslim dish is the complete package. Yellow noodles. Beef or chicken. Shrimp. Soy sauce, veggies and eggs. A bit of chili tossed in for an irresistible jolt.

Sounds simple, right?

Sadly, you can try to replicate this one at home, but it’s just not going to taste the way it did when you chowed down at that gritty Malaysian hawker stall.

2. Nasi Kerabu

If the blue rice doesn’t spark your curiosity, the lines of people around the country waiting to order this favorite Kelantanese dish should.

From the state of Kelantan in northern peninsular Malaysia, nasi kerabu gets its eye-grabbing color from telang flowers, which are crushed and mixed into flour.

The aquamarine dish is topped with bean sprouts and fried coconut, then drenched in spicy budu, a fermented fish sauce.

In true Kelantan style, you use your hands to dig into this one.

3. Roti John

Whoever John was, it’s apparent that he preferred his sandwiches made with grilled minced meat and egg in the middle of slim bread, and drowned in a confection of condiments.

Mayonnaise, ketchup, barbecue and chili sauce — choose one or choose them all.

4. Kuih- kuih

Variety, variety, variety — that’s way to explore kuih, or Malay-style pastries. Small enough to snap up in a gulp and sugary enough to give you a modest jitter, kuih vendors are the most colorful stalls of all.

This kaleidoscope of soft, sugary morsels goes quickly — few pieces are left by the time daylight begins to fade.

5. Satay

Though considered by many to be a dish native to Thailand, satay is actually believed to have originated in Indonesia.
Origins aside, can we all just agree that meat on a stick is good?

Malaysia has its own variations of the grilled skewers, served nationwide in chicken, beef or pork forms (the latter in non-Muslim venues only).

Sauces vary from region to region, including the peanut sauce that’s loved the world over.

6. Char Kuey Teow

Another one to thank China’s migrants for, char kuey teow, made with flat rice noodles, is one of Southeast Asia’s most popular noodle dishes.

The noodles are fried with pork lard, dark and light soy sauce, chili, de-shelled cockles, bean sprouts, Chinese chives and sometimes prawn and egg.

Essential to the dish is good “wok hei” or breath of wok, the qualities and tastes imparted by cooking on a wok using high heat.

7. Kaya Toast

Kaya is a sweet and fragrant coconut custard jam, slathered onto thin slices of warm toast with ample butter. It’s as divine as it sounds, particularly when downed with a cup of thick black coffee.

Many locals have this for breakfast supplemented by two soft-boiled eggs with soy sauce and pepper.

8. Ais kacang

Shaved ice desserts are always a popular treat in the tropics.

Ice kacang (ice with beans) evolved from the humble ice ball drenched with syrup to be the little ice mountain served in a bowl, drizzled with creamed corn, condensed milk, gula melaka and brightly colored syrups.

Dig into it and you’ll discover other goodies hidden within — red beans, palm seeds and cubed jellies.

9. Wonton Mee

You’ll find variations of wanton mee, a dish of Chinese origin, all over Asia, but the one in Penang stands out.

Springy egg noodles are served al dente with a sticky sauce made from soy sauce and lard oil. A spoonful of fiery sambal is added to the side.

It’s topped with pieces of leafy green Chinese kale, sliced green onions, pickled green chilies and wontons. The wontons are either boiled or steamed, as you’ll find them elsewhere in Malaysia, or fried, in a unique Penang twist.

10. Goreng pisang

The popular Malay snack of goreng pisang (banana fritters) is one of those dishes that has variations in banana-growing countries around the world.

The deep-frying helps caramelize the natural sugars in the bananas, making them even sweeter than they were to begin with. Some of Malaysia’s Chinese versions have unusually delicate and puffy batter.

11. Lor bak

A Nyonya specialty of Penang, lor bak is braised pork that has been marinated in five-spice powder before being wrapped in soft bean curd skin and deep-fried.

Lor bak is served with two dipping sauces, a spicy red chili sauce and a gravy thickened with cornstarch and a beaten egg called lor.

12. Roti Canai

An Indian-inspired flatbread, roti canai is made with flour, butter and water, though some will toss condensed milk in to sweeten it up.

The whole concoction is flattened, folded, oiled and cooked on a heavily oiled skillet, resulting in a sublimely fluffy piece of bread with a crispy exterior.

You can eat this one as a snack on its own or use it to scoop up a side of curry.

13. Putu piring

Like roti jala, putu piring is enjoyed in India and Malaysia.

Putu piring has the taste of a cake, with the added bonus of pockets of palm sugar.

It’s plate-like shape is formed by flattening the flour before covering it in a white cloth and placing it in a conical steamer.

14. Asam pedas

A fish curry popular throughout peninsular Malaysia, it’s commonly made with freshwater fish or stingray.

Asam, which means tamarind, features heavily, along with ginger, shrimp paste, garlic, chilies and other herbs.

15. Laksa

A staple of Malaysian cuisine, laksa eateries have been migrating abroad in recent years, making appearances in Bangkok, Shanghai and further afield.

There are multiple variations. For anyone who enjoys a taste of the volcanic kind, this spicy noodle soup can get you there in its curry form.
Some like it with fish, others prawns.

We Malaysians are a lucky lot. Here in our multiracial community, we have exposure to all sorts of cuisine. Chinese, Indian, Malay.. you name it, we have it. Some of these ethnic cooking styles might be more bland or less spicy than others, but I have to say that all are equally interesting in their own way.

As already mentioned, Malaysia is a food haven and the food reflects the motto of this country – “Truly Asia”. The cuisine is a wonderful mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian flavours and it is loved equally by all.

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