8 Must-Try Malaysian Food
Malaysia is home to fabulous street eats and equally tasty restaurants. With various influences from Malay and Chinese traditions, spicy Indian and Nonya dishes, Malaysia offers much to savour in all of its 13 different states and many more cities. The culinary scene is bustling with choices, fueled by this diversity of the country’s multicultural heritage. Here, we share with you the local favorites from three popular foodie stops in the region – Malacca, Penang and Ipoh Perak.
Ayam Buah Keluak
Nonya Cuisine is also a must try in Malacca, where you can find mouthwatering food combining Chinese ingredients with Malay herbs and spices. The Malaccan version of Nonya Cuisine favor the use of coconut milk, and is therefore richer in taste. Ayam Buah Keluak is a popular Nonya dish, which is chicken stewed with black nuts. Don’t be put off by the murky, ink-like gravy! The sauce is rich and creamy, and mixes very well with the kepayang nuts and chicken meat.
The aromatic grilled fish dish is another must-try – ikan bakar (literally, burnt fish in malay). The fish is marinated in a myriad of spices, then wrapped in banana leaf and grilled over charcoal fire. In Malacca, head towards Perkampungan Ikan Bakar Terapung, 11 km off Malacca Town, where you can get freshly barbequed fish along with a good selecion of seafood such as cockles, squids and oysters grilled on the spot.
Nasi Kandar is a popular northern Malaysia dish that originated from the state of Penang, so its small wonder you’ll find so many stalls around the state offering this dish. This Malaysian staple comprises simply of plain or flavored rice accompanied by side dishes such as fried chicken, curried spleen, cubed beef, fish roe, fried prawns or fried squid.
A mixture of curry sauces is then poured on top, imparting
a diverse taste to the rice. Other than in Penang, Nasi Kandar is also a popular dish in Ipoh, Malacca and more.
Penang Char Kway Teow
Another popular dish is char kway teow, flat rice noodles fried with beansprouts, prawns, cockles, chives and eggs in a rich dark sauce. The Penang version of this popular South East Asian dish (you can also find local versions in Indonesia and Singapore), is smooth and smokey, with additional light and dark soy sauces, extra spices and the use of broader width variety of flat rice noodles.
No visit to Penang is complete without a bowl of its namesake laksa. The Penang laksa is a rice noodles dish served in a thick and tasty spicy broth, spiked with flaked mackerels and a generous serving of vegetables. In Penang, head towards Lorong Selamat, off Macalister Road to try out this renowned dish – there are two versions, the sour type, and the lemak type (with the addition of coconut milk).
One of the most popular dish in Ipoh is the humble chicken rice. In Ipoh, the chicken is poached Hainanese style, served with beansprouts and pork meatball soup. The famed Lou Wong Restaurant is a popular place specializing in chicken rice. Their chicken is perfectly done, cooked just enough to retain a juicy smoothness that is often absent from overcooked chicken. They come mixed with beansprouts and drizzled with a tasty combination of sesame oil and soy sauce mix.
Ipoh Hor Fun
When in Ipoh, be sure to try out their famed Ipoh Hor Fun. There are two variations of the dish itself. The soupy version comes served with a clear chicken and prawn browth, topped with shredded chicken meat and spring onions. The other version is a fried version, boldly flavored and enhanced with a splash of dark gravy.
Perhaps the most popular and ubiquitous staple of Malaysian cuisine is nasi lemak, a simple dish comprising of rice cooked with coconut milk, ikan bilis (fried anchovies), roasted peanuts, some vegetables and a generous portion of a tasty sambal chilli. This is a popular dish that can be found all over Southeast Asia, each with their own local influences in the dish.
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About the Author. Nikolas Tjhin. A graphic and web designer in its previous incarnation, Nik’s journeyman career has seen him do work for various creative studios in Wisconsin, Minneapolis, Singapore and Jakarta. Now, he’s settled down for the time being and focusing his efforts as the editor of an Asia travel zine, Unearthing Asia.