Eat Your Way Through Malaysia

A Diverse Culture Makes for Great Dining

What happens when you blend Chinese, Indian, Thai and indigenous Malay recipes and cooking techniques? Well, you end up with exquisite Malaysian cuisine. As a country whose culture has been influenced by its Asian neighbours over many centuries, Malaysia has discovered and developed its own unique gastronomic identity.

You are likely to find local favourites in each of Malaysia’s regions. Should you travel up and down Peninsula Malaysia, then hop over the South China Sea to the eastern states of Sarawak and Saba, you will be sure to find a different traditional gourmet in each place you visit.

Addicted to Food

If you can’t cover that much territory, you can find a range of Malaysian delights at one of the many food courts which are a feature of Malaysian shopping centers – especially in the nation’s capital, Kuala Lumpur.

So-called “hawkers” often surround these food courts, each offering a different local cuisine. Simply order your meal from a hawker and tell them at which table you are sitting. If you want to try a range of foods, there is nothing stopping you from ordering from a number of different hawkers, who will all deliver your
order to the same table.

If shopping malls aren’t your thing, the famous Jalon Alor food market in down-town Kuala Lumpur is the perfect place to taste a variety of Malaysian cuisines. The outdoor market is usually packed with locals and tourists, and offers an unforgettable Malaysian dining experience. Mamak roadside stalls are also a great place to taste local foods, and are often where Malaysian youth choose to hang out while they dine.

Give These Dishes a Go

There are tens of “must-try” Malaysian dishes. However, if your time in the country is limited, here are three well-known Malaysian culinary delights you should definitely get stuck into. You will be able to find these dishes no matter where you are end up. Enjoy!

1. Rendang


Rendang is a dry curry, slow cooked in coconut milk and heavily seasoned with turmeric, ginger, chili and lime. The dish is a fusion of sweet, sour and savoury flavours. Rendang is usually made with beef (“rendang daging”), but chicken, seafood and even vegetable rendang are also common.

2. Roti Canai

Roti Canai

Influenced by Indian cuisine. Roti Canai is Malaysia’s classic breakfast. The dough, made from flour, egg and clarified butter (ghee), is stretched in to a paper thin sheet, then folded over and griddled. It’s best when served fresh and hot, and goes well with rice or other sides.

3. Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak, which translates to “rice in cream”, is one of Malaysian’s national dishes. The rice is soaked and cooked in coconut cream, steamed, and subtly flavoured with pandan leaves. The rice dish is then served with a topping of fried anchovies, fried fish, nuts, cucumber, and often an egg. Non-traditional versions of Nasi Lemak may include toppings such as fried chicken or curried vegetables.