On your travels, the food scene is the one aspect that can instantly connect with foreign cultures despite the language barrier. This goes for Malaysia as well. Due to the melting pot of cultures here, the food experience is eclectic and vivid; you will be spoiled for choice. When on a Malaysian holiday, there is no doubt that you will be tempted by the local delicacies, some of which have a twist of Indonesian influence to them. The variety of flavours you will find in Malaysian street food provides you with a sensory experience unlike any other.
So, without further ado, here are the 10 most delectable dishes from Malaysia’s street food scene that you must try during your Malaysia vacation.
Italy has pizza, Spain has Paella, and similarly Malaysia has Nasi Lemak to its name. This dish is Malaysia’s most sumptuous, belly-filling dish, which all Malaysians enjoy and consider to be their comfort food and humble meal. It’s a simple rice dish steamed in an aromatic combination of coconut and pandang flavours, topped with roasted nuts, anchovies, boiled eggs, fresh cucumbers, and sambal.
Otak Otak is a quick savoury snack of flavoursome fishcakes that originated in Indonesia and made its way to the streets of Malaysia. These food bites are amazing as grab-and-go snacks during your Malaysia tour, made from ground fish, shallots, coconut milk, tapioca starch, lemon grass and spices rolled into a patty, and steamed or grilled to perfection.
Any trip to the South East Asis is incomplete unless you try their signature noodle soup. Assam Laksa is one such specialty soup in Malaysia. It’s a fish-based rice noodle soup with a generous broth infused with shredded poached fish, coconut milk, herbs like mint and coriander, and tamarind’s tanginess. The most flavoursome Assam laksa can be relished in Penang.
The Cendol is the best Malaysia street food to devour for cool, refreshing sweet dessert. This iced sweet concoction is a traditional and popular street food in Malaysia, composed of tender coconut, green rice jelly noodles, palm sugar, coconut milk, and topped with seasonal fruits.
When visiting Malaysia street food places, you are bound to come across food stalls with the aroma of charred grilled meat and a fusion of aromatic spices that instantly gets you drooling. Satay is grilled spiced batter-marinated skewered chicken or meat with a smoky flavour. It is served with peanut sauce, pickled onions, or ketupat. Satay is not native to Malaysia, but it is a dish that arrived from Indonesia and quickly became the most popular fast food delight, particularly on the Malaysian street food Kuala Lumpur scene.
Ipoh Hor Fun
Settle down with a hot bowl of Ipoh Hor Fun, a traditional dish of stir-fried flat rice noodles soaked in luscious thick broth infused with chicken and shrimp. The broth and rice noodles are seasoned with deep-fried shallots, bean sprouts, and soy sauce. This simple yet full of flavour delicacy is best prepared and served in Ipoh, Malaysia.
If you want something refreshing and appetising, a filling salad called Rojak is your best bet. It’s a delectable combination of sliced fruits and vegetables in a rich spicy sauce sprinkled with nuts for texture and flavour. Rojak Bandung is another Indonesian appetiser that is more popular on the streets of Malaysia and Singapore. There is a wide variety of Rojak to choose from, with ingredients such as pineapple, beansprouts, deep-fried tofu, green apples, raw mangoes, and a sauce made of shrimp paste, toasted peanuts and sesame seed, and soy sauce.
To add some sweetness to your mornings in Malaysia, tuck into these delicious pancakes for breakfast. Apam Balik is a popular Malaysian breakfast dish. The crispy thin-layered crepe melts in your mouth with the juicy sweet filling made of caramelised peanut power in sugar and butter. The dish is tempting and will have you reaching for second helpings.
This delectable street dish, found only in Malaysia, is a must-try. Nasi Kerabu is distinguished by its unusual blue-tinged rice – a natural food colouring derived by cooking it with butterfly pea flowers. This rice dish is topped with a colourful and palatable ensemble of boiled eggs, beans sprouts, shredded cabbage, fresh herbs, sambal, fried chicken or sea food, stuffed peppers, and grated coconut. This dish is popular in the Eastern side of Peninsular Malaysia, particularly in Terengganu.
The famous “pulled tea” making drama that takes place on Malaysian streets is another must-see. Nothing beats a hot cup of Teh Tarik to refresh you on your Malaysian adventure. The infused brew of tea leaves and condensed milk is pulled and poured between two mugs to provide just the right amount of warmth and flavour in each sip. Give this a try if you enjoy a good hot beverage.
When you visit Malaysia, you will be greeted with a kaleidoscope of culinary delights. Though the international cuisine scene will take your breath away, the most mouth-watering flavours of the land in all their cultural orientation can only be found on the streets of Malaysia. So, the next time you are in Malaysia, try these delectable Malaysian street foods. It is certain to leave an impression on your taste palate that will linger long after your trip is over.