Malaysia’s top 40 foods


Malaysian food doesn’t get the global recognition it deserves. But the fact is, this stuff is good!
The sum of many delicious parts, Malaysian cuisine’s 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.
To help narrow your choices here are 40 of Malaysia’s top dishes, in no particular order.

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?

2. Apam balik

You haven’t truly experienced Malaysian food until you thrill your taste buds with this sweet treat.
A pancake-style snack wedded with the compact package of an omelet, apam balik is stuffed with more than a sufficient amount of sugar, peanuts and the occasional sprinkle of corn — it’s a dish that’s constantly being reinvented.

3. 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.

4. Ayam percik (chicken with percik sauce)

KFC’s popularity in the region (and across Asia) over other fast food chains won’t surprise those familiar with ayam percik.
Basically, it’s barbecued chicken slathered in spicy chili, garlic and ginger sauce mixed with coconut milk. With the right amount of percik sauce, this staple Malaysian stall food packs more zing than anything the Colonel can muster.

5. Nasi lemak

Some call nasi lemak Malaysia’s unofficial national dish. Everyone else calls it delicious.
Nasi lemak is basically rice cooked in coconut milk. But it’s the sides that matter.
Depending on where you are in Malaysia, it comes with a variety of accompaniments such as hard-boiled egg, peanuts, vegetables, lamb/chicken/or beef curry, seafood and sambal (chili-based sauce).
Nasi lemak is traditionally eaten for breakfast but these days people are ordering it any time of day.

6. 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.

7. Rendang (beef, chicken or lamb)

Though sometimes erroneously called a curry, Malaysian food aficionados point out that this chunky cauldron of coconut milk and spices is nothing of the sort.
The difference is in how it’s prepared: slowly simmered (to let the meat absorb the spices) until the rosy liquid completely evaporates. A favorite, especially during festive seasons, rendang is found across Malaysia.

8. 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.

9. Nasi kandar

Nasi kandar is essentially rice served with your choice of toppings, which commonly include curry, fish, egg and okra. Everything is laid out buffet style, though you can also order a la carte.
Found all over Malaysia, nasi kandar eateries are extremely popular, most open 24 hours and run by ethnic Indian Muslims.

10. Laksa

A staple of Malaysian cuisine, laksa eateries have been migrating abroad, 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.
Our favorite is Penang’s asam laksa, in which tamarind features heavily (“asam” is Malay for tamarind) to create a spicy-sour fish broth.


By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter

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