Hello and welcome to 2018. While most of you adhere to free hostel breakfasts, familiar fast food and the occasional nibbles of local cuisine. I challenge you to expand your taste buds and explore Malaysian food on a whole new level. With so many local cuisines, it is hard to find to tick it all off your list in the short time of your stay. Hence, here are the 20 ultimate Malaysian foods you have to try or at least consider trying during your stay in Malaysia.
1. Nasi Lemak
The epitome of Malaysian food. Steaming coconut milk rice with spicy sweet sambal, anchovies, cucumber slices, roasted peanuts and a side of boiled egg. With something so simple yet complex with elements, this is the national dish of Malaysia.
King of fruit and culprit of smells. The infamous durian is the ultimate dive into south east Asian culture. This spiky green exterior and the creamy inner fruit is what Malaysians would die for. Dont judge until you try it.
3. Curry Laksa
Rice noodles bathed in this rich savory curry broth, cockles and tofu puffs is a great meal to cure your hangovers and to soothe rainy days.
4. Char Kuey Teow
Char Kuey Teow is a simple stir fried glass noodles with a lot of woky charred goodness. The smokiness of the wok and the blend of soy sauces, bean sprouts, cockles, egg and Chinese sausage all in the mix is what makes this stir fry noodles better than the rest.
5. Bak Kut Teh
Pork stew is not a new thing in many cuisines of the world but this pork stew is exceptionally special. The herb infused broth elevates the stew, giving it rich and light flavor. Pile on the garlic to give the stewed pork a bigger punch.
6. Hokkien Mee
The dark noodles is the signature identity of what makes this dish. Going at it with the smoky wok flavor and the thick dark sauce covers the noodles with a delicious rich combination. Topped up with a few crackings of deep fried pork lard, it is best to enjoy this with a glass of beer.
7. Oyster Omelette
A typical omelette is not the same as this dish. The goey starchy egg omelette served with oysters is a special on its own. The sweet tangy chili sauce plays a huge part in tying all of the flavors together.
8. Otak Otak
The traditional nyonya contribution to the gigantic choices of Malaysian food is something you have to try. This spicy rich fish paste with chilies and coconut milk is sure to get your mouth watering.
9. Burger Ramly
Going western is something people often will turn a blind eye especially when you are not in Europe or America. When it comes to food, we Malaysians put a twist into everything. These burgers stalls usually comes to life at night. Burger Ramly is a Malaysian made burger with beef or chicken patties, egg and a whole lot of sauces. Best late night grub ever.
Cool off with a sugary ice cold coconut milk dessert if you cant take the Malaysian heat. The pandan tear shaped jelly, red beans, palm sugar topped with coconut milk is the way how the locals ease off the heat.
11. Ayam Ponteh
Another special treat for you to try is this fusion nyonya dish called ayam ponteh. The stewed chicken dish served with potatoes and a steaming bowl of rice is the go to comfort food which is easy to make and rich in heritage.
12. Rojak Paseumbur
Rojak is a mixture of different types of fruit, fried cakes, vegetables and crackers all mixed into a singular dish with a generous serving of sauces. Though it may come in many variations, Rojak Pasembur is native to the Indian Muslims of Malaysia. Its hard to explain what rojak is to people who arent from Malaysia but it its sweet, tangy and spicy peanut sauce is all whats it worth to give it a try.
13. Prawn Noodles
If you are a big fan of seafood or the crab noodles in Vietnam, this is an amazing treat for you. Malaysian Prawn noodles or known by out northern brothers in penang as hokkien mee, is a noodle dish packed with prawn flavoued broth, vegetables, and pork.
14. Maggie Goreng
The favorite dish for late night hangouts between gathering sessions is the ultimate Maggie goreng. Translated to friend instant noodles, the flavor filled instant ramen noodles is fried with eggs, vegetables and sometimes tofu is certainly a treat to nurse hangovers and tipsy food binges.
Who doesnt like meat grill on a stick? Everywhere, in each culture or a country, there is something about food on a stick which appeals to people. In this case, the char grilled marinated savory turmeric goodness is a big favorite among Malaysians. If you happen to come along these wondrous grill meats, take a stop and try it. You wont get em anywhere else.
16. Roti Canai
A great way to get to know more about a certain culture or an identity of a country is how one eats in the morning. Roti Canai is a special flatbread in mamak restaurants and it comes with a side of dhall and curry as dipping. One piece or Roti Canai could cost you about RM 1.50 which is a tremendous steal if you are short on budget and a great alternative to head off and skip your free boring hostel breakfast.
17. Sate Celup
This localized delicacy is only available in Malacca. Making a day trip to this quaint historical town without trying this geographically special dish here would not make this trip complete. The food is cooked in a broth of spicy peanut sauce in the middle of the table which makes it a unique experience. On top of the unique flavour notes and the wide selection of food options to choose from, satay celup is the ultimate dish where many from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore come to Malacca just for a taste.
18. Teh Tarik
While the English have English tea and the Americans have Starbucks, we Malaysians have the humble Teh Tarik. This sweet pulled milk tea is available night or day, take away or dine in and in often cases paired with our other favorites like the Nasi Lemak and the Roti Canai. The milk tea sweetened with condensed milk and then pulled several times to achieve that bubbly foam
19. Banana Leaf Rice
Eating rice and curry on a leaf might seem foreign at first. However, in Malaysia, eating banana leaf rice is a norm and it is best eaten like this compared to the conventional plate. If you are a vegetarian, this is one meal you could not miss.
20. Char Siew and Roast Pork Belly Rice
Last and the least you have to try on this list is the Char Siew and roasted pork belly rice. Char Siew is a Cantonese style BBQ pork with a thick sweet glazed sauce which will definitely tingle your taste buds with loads of flavour. While on the other hand, the roasted pork belly is seasoned with five spiced powered, salt and roasted into a crackling perfection is what we call the Chinese version of bacon. Often served on a serving of rice and a bowl of soup, this easily accessible dish is definitely nothing too weird for the unadventurous taste buds.