My last birthday I celebrated in the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. A year before I had lived there for 6 months so I knew the city pretty well. What I love most about Malaysia is the food! I love love love it! Especially because of Malaysia’s multicultural society there are so many different kinds of food from all over Asia. So when I was asked what I wanted as a birthday present I didn’t have to think long. I wanted to have a day full of food! We went to my favorite places to try ALL of my favorite food. I ate a lot but everything in small portions as I knew what more delicious food was coming. I will give you an overview of what I feel are the 10 best treats of Malaysia.
1. Curry Laksa
If you like spicy food you will love curry laksa. It’s a coconut based noodle soup that can be served with chicken, prawn or fish. The dish is a combination between the Malay and Chinese cuisine. It can be eaten for lunch or dinner. Don’t rub in your eye when you eat laksa. You never know when a drop might have gotten to your hand and let me tell you something, having the tiniest bit of it in your eye is so painful.
Where to find Curry Laksa?
Curry Laksa can be found all over Malaysia mostly in Chinese type restaurants.
2. Kaya toast
Kaya toast is a yummy but pretty basic snack. It’s basically toast with coconut jam which is made of coconut milk, sugar, eggs and pandan. The toast is served warm with a big piece of butter in the middle that will melt in your mouth. The dish is usually served with a good cup of strong coffee or tea. Sometimes it’s supplemented by a really soft boiled egg, it’s a bit snotty.
Where to find Kaya toast?
All over Malaysia you can find a chain called ‘Toast box’. This is where you can find Kaya toast but the best can be found in the center of Kuala Lumpur at a little place called: Imbi market.
3. Roti Canai
Roti actually means bread in Malaysian and is mostly eaten for breakfast. Many people will stop by a stall on their way to work to get their daily roti. That’s what I used to do when I was living in Malaysia. In the beginning it seems odd to eat something savory for breakfast but soon it became my must-have breakfast. Although it’s a bit oily so eating it every day is not a good idea.
Roti would be best described as a salty pancake. It’s usually served with a curry style dipping sauce. In Malaysia normal roti would be called roti canai but you can order roti with many different flavors like: with banana, kaya, egg, onion, etc.
Roti’s are usually made by men who are very well trained. People will come to go to a restaurant because of good roti makers. Therefore the roti maker will usually earn the most in comparison to other restaurant workers.
Where to find Roti?
Roti can be found in any Indian restaurant. Probably the most widely available dish in Malaysia. Make sure you eat it with your right hand. It’s a challenged to pull a piece off but fun to try.
Satay is a flavorful dish made of peanuts. At most food courts in Malaysia there will be one stall that is preparing Satay. When you smell the meat on the grill you will immediately know where it is because the smell is divine, it won’t take long before you find yourself in front of it ordering some satay. It’s mouthwatering when you see it being prepared. Hmmmmmm.
Normally you order satay with a certain number of meat on a stick. Most of the time you can order chicken or beef, pork is not always available because Malaysia is a Muslim country.
Where to find Satay?
Mostly in food courts. It has to be prepared outside because a lot of smoke is involved in barbequing the meat so most restaurants won’t have it.
Try Satay with a nice cold beer, it’s a perfect little bite on a hot day.
Popiah definitely cannot be missed in this list. I would describe popiah as an Asian style burrito. It is not just eaten in Malaysia but also in Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan popiah can be found. Although in every country it’s slightly different.
In Malaysia the popiah skin is a paper thin pancake richly filled with all kinds of food such as bean sprouts, shredded omelette, lettuce leaves, tofu, chopped peanuts and much more deliciousness. It is not fried and I would even think it is quite a healthy dish.
Where to find Popiah?
It is not always easy to find popiah. You have to know where to look but if you do you’ll find the best. There are two places in Kuala Lumpur to find the best popiah:
- Lot 10. It’s an underground food court that is located in Bukit Bintang. It’s in the street Jalan Bukit Bintang on the way towards the Pavillion (most famous shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur).
- Imbi market. A nice small morning market in the midst of Kuala Lumpur in a surprisingly quiet area. There is a lady making the best popiah in the world. After finishing your first popiah you will crave for more. Also a good place to have Kaya toast.
6. Nasi Lemak
Something else that is mainly eaten for breakfast is Nasi Lemak. It literally means fat rice so it’s not good to eat it every day but sometimes it’s hard to stay away from. Nasi Lemak contains rice baked in coconut milk and pandan leaf and is usually served with a boiled egg, cucumber, peanuts, chili paste and dried anchovies.
Where to find Nasi Lemak?
Nasi Lemak can be found anywhere in Malaysia. Many stalls on the street sell nasi lemak and all indian restaurants will have nasi lemak available during the day.
7. Banana Leaf Rice
If you enjoy eating with your hands, eating banana leaf rice will be lots of fun. Ohhhhh I wish I was eating this right now. Banana leaf rice is kind of a way of serving Indian dishes. The way it’s done is you sit down at a table and ask for banana leaf rice. You will get a banana leaf as a plate and the waiters will come to put all kinds of delicious food on it. Remember, it must be eaten with your right hand only.
Where to find banana leaf rice?
Most Indian restaurants in Malaysia have got banana leaf rice but I think the best place to eat it is in a neighborhood called Brickfields aka little India, behind KL Sentral. I don’t believe the banana leaf rice is necessarily better than in other parts of Kuala Lumpur but the whole atmosphere around it when walking through these Indian feeling streets is wonderful.
8. Pineapple fried rice
If you’re a sweet tooth you will love this. It’s more a Thai dish but also deliciously served in Malaysia. Pineapple fried rice is a dish – as the name says – served with pineapple and usually in half a pineapple too. The rice is fried with vegetables and curry herbs served with cashew nuts.
Where to find pineapple fried rice?
Most food courts will have a stall where pineapple fried rice is served although you most probably won’t receive it nice and beautifully in a pineapple. In restaurants they will most probably serve it in a pineapple. This dish is easy to make by yourself as well when you return from your trip.
9. Char Kuey Teow
Another fried but delicious dish is Char Kuey Teow. This time noodles are the main ingredient which can sometimes be chosen according to your likings otherwise they use thin noodles with eggs prawn or chicken, chives and bean sprouts. It’s a good dish for when you’re hungry and do not want to think about what to eat.
Where to find char kuey teow?
Any food court will have char kuey teow at a Malay or Chinese stall. It’s a widely known dish in Asia.
10. Ice kacang
Last but not least a delicious dessert called ice kacang which literally means ice beans. You can find all kinds of things in your ice kacang like beans, fruits, jelly things and it’s all topped with different kinds of lemonade so it has a nice and sweet flavor.
Where to find ice kacang?
Most food courts have got a special stall that serves ice cream and drinks. In the pavillion, the most popular shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur serves a great ice kacang in its food court.
I don’t know about you but I’m getting hungry after talking about these delicious foods of Malaysia. What’s your favorite dish of Malaysia or if you’ve never been, what would you like to try?