When we were preparing the trip to Malaysia, we discovered that everyone was wowing about the Malaysian food. It is a mix of Chinese, Indian, Javanese, Malayan, Thai, Portuguese, Dutch and British cuisines. To be honest, the result is so unique, it’s hard to describe. Each dish is a blend of its own.
Here are 24 different dishes we have tried in Malaysia. Some of them we loved, some surprised us, some were a one-off try without a specific need to repeat.
Laksa is known as Malaysia’s beloved soup. There are endless variations of Malaysian laksa, but there are two umbrella categories: asam laksa (based on tamarind) and curry laksa. It is a tamarind-based broth cooked with flaky white fish. Noodles, cucumber and pineapple are added with a bitter ginger flower on top. Michal loves it, even though it’s usually very hot and spicy.
2. Nasi Lemak
Malaysia’s unofficial national dish. It’s basically rice cooked in coconut milk accompanied with hard-boiled egg, peanuts, vegetables, lamb/chicken/beef curry, seafood and sambal. Gosia liked it a lot.
3. Nasi kandar
What you can see on the picture is Gosia‘s great Malaysian love called nasi kandar.
The eye-grabbing blue rice owes its colour thanks to telang flowers, which are crushed and mixed into flour.
The surrounding toppings may include curry, okra, papadum and an omnipresent in Malaysian cuisine – egg.
The chicken in the restaurant where we took this picture has been deliciously marinated in lemongrass which helped it stay juicy and crunchy at the same time.
Nasi kandar is a typical Indian Muslim dish originating from northern Malaysia, close to the Thai border. In the past days it was made by travelling cooks who approached the people working in the fields and offered to cook them lunch. They had all the ingredients with them and would quickly mix it on spot.
Satay! The favourite dish of our kids. In simple words, it is just meat on a stick, which originated in Indonesia and soon spread around South-East Asia. It’s either chicken (Laura’s favourite), beef (Bernard’s favourite) or pork (in non-Muslim venues only). The kids prefer just the delicious meet, but we can recommend you the sauces that come along with the dish. To make the dish more special, sauces vary from region to region, but the best in our opinion is the peanut based one.
5. Char kuey teow
Michal‘s top5 favourite dish. It is made from flat rice noodles which are fried in dark and light soy sauce, chilli, de-shelled cockles, bean sprouts, Chinese chives and sometimes prawns and egg. Delicious!
Malaysian porridge, which is a coconut-milk based, sometimes sugary soup, that includes various vegetables and meats. Honestly speaking there is no standard recipe of preparing bubur – each region has its own speciality.
The one on the picture had chicken slices.
In our opinion it’s an OK dish, but nothing to wow about.
7. Prawn mee
A noodle soup dish popular in Malaysia and Singapore.
Egg noodles are served in richly flavoured dark soup stock with prawns, pork slices, fish cake slices and bean sprouts topped with fried shallots and spring onions.
In our opinion the soup is good, but laksa for example is better.
8. Nyonya ayam
This typical Nyonya dish consists of chicken cooked in gula melaka sauce (unrefined palm sugar), okra, rice and sunny side up egg with black sesame. The kids liked it (at least parts of it 😉 ).
9. Apam Balik
Meet Apam Balik – Malaysian peanut turnover. This is a small crispy pancake filled in with peanuts and sweet corn. Gosia loved it.
10. Dim sum
Here is a Chinese speciality very popular in Malaysia as well: dim sum. These dumplings are steam-fried in special bamboo vessels to make them soft and spongy. They come in variety of forms, sizes and fillings. Bernard loves them a lot.
11. Lemon chicken
Another Chinese speciality popular in Malaysian cuisine is lemon chicken. Here it tastes way better than in Europe. The best part is the lemon sauce, which unfortunately did not make into to the picture.
Here is a colourful variety of kuih made of rice flour, coconut milk, sugar and various ingredients responsible for their colouring.
13. Putu Piring
Round steamed cake made of rice flour dough, gula melaka, peanuts and coconut. This one has been cooked directly in front of our eyes. It’s a great example of street food typical for Malaysia.
Durian! Everyone in Malaysia seems to love the king of fruits. It is extremely smelly and that’s why it is forbidden to have it in closed spaces like lifts or public transport.
We are less enthusiastic about durian to be honest.
They can be eaten raw or in a variety of dishes. Here a deluxe Durian cake in a shape of durian fruit.
15. Pandan cake
Most of cakes and cookies in Malaysia are green. This is thanks to pandan palm, which is loved by all Malaysians. Laura loved this pandan cake and declared it most delicious in the world.
16. Tepung pelita
On the top layer, thick coconut milk with salt. On the bottom, a similar milky liquid mixed with sugar and pandan leaves to turn it green. Served in bite-sized pandan leaf bowls, it easily wins over many other Malaysian deserts.
17. Swallows bird nest
Here is a Chinese awkward dessert. It is made of swallows bird nest. Supposed to be very healthy for a number of diseases. It tasted better than its description. Kids preferred to avoid it, but Michal liked it.
18. Roti tissue
Here is a happy Bernard next to one of his favourite breakfast dishes – roti tissue. This is an Indian based pancake, in this case made as thin as a tissue (hence the name). It is served with various sweet sauces. Bernard of course prefers chocolate sauce.
19. Sarawak layer cake
It is made on special occasions only, like Christmas, Eid ul-Fitr, Deepavali, birthdays or weddings. Laura was planning for ages to try it, so we were looking out for it wherever we could. Finally – bingo! – we found it in a pastry shop in the Kota Kinabalu airport. Laura was overwhelmed…until she tried it. Then she lost interest, as the cakes looks gorgeous, but tastes average.
20. Batik cake
It is a type of non-baked Malaysian dessert. It is made of broken Marie biscuits combined with chocolate sauce or runny custard with eggs, butter and condensed milk and chocolate powder. Gosia, who is a big fan of batiks, was very keen on this cake and when we finally found it – she really enjoyed it, especially as it is not very sweet.
Typical for the ingenious people of Sabah, it is made of rice flour and deep fried. Michal couldn’t resist and bit it twice before making a picture 😉
22. Cincin kuih
Deep fried dough made of peanuts and rice flower. Very crunchy and addictive.
23. Teh tarik
This was our daily bread. It is made of a strong brew of black tea blended with condensed milk. You have to be aware that it is often drunk cold with lots of ice. It is known as a national drink of Malaysia. Here a special version with gula melaka jellies.
24. Fresh juices and smoothies.
There are plenty of good juices in Malaysia. On the contrary to many tropical countries, the hygiene level in Malaysia is good, so you can enjoy them without fear.
Here you have pink guava and mango juices, which all four of us love. Our great discovery was lemongrass juice. Passion fruit juice was our old love, which got renewed in Malaysia.