Best Malaysian food to try

As a melting pot of cultures, religions and ethnicities, Malaysian food is as diverse as it is delicious. On this page you’ll find the best Malaysian food to try, including Malay cuisine, Chinese cuisine, Indian cuisine and East Malaysian cuisine.

  1. Ais kacang
    Literally meaning ‘bean ice’ in English, ais kacang is a common dessert made with shaved ice, red beans, sweet corn, grass jelly, roasted peanuts, agar agar, condensed milk and red rose syrup.
  1. Banana leaf rice
    Served on a fresh piece of banana leaf, banana leaf rice is a wholesome meal typically consisting of fragrant rice, curries, vegetables, pickles, meat dishes and papadum.
  1. Hainanese chicken rice
    Poached chicken with special sauce and aromatic, seasoned rice served with chicken soup and chilli sauce and garnished with cucumber and parsley.
  1. Sate
    Skewered grilled meat served with a savoury peanut sauce, cucumber, onions and ketupat.
  1. Curry noodles
    Yellow noodles and/or rice vermicelli in a delicious curry broth made with chilli/sambal and coconut milk (santan). Usually comes with chicken or crispy roast pork and garnished with cockles, bean sprout and mint leaves. Soup or dry versions available.
  1. Murtabak
    Omelette pancake filled with bits of vegetables and minced meat
  1. Nasi lemak
    Fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf served with delicious rendang, sambal, fried anchovies, hard-boiled eggs, roasted peanuts and cucumbers. Known as Malaysia’s national dish.
  1. Rojak buah
    Mixed sliced fruit and vegetable salad served with a tangy palm sugar dressing and dough or prawn fritters.
  1. Char kway teow
    Stir-fried flat rice noodles with light and dark soy sauce, chilli, belachan, whole prawns, blood cockles, chopped Chinese chives, slices of Chinese sausage, fishcake, bean sprouts and egg. A Malay version that is wetter and comes with more sauce is also available.
  1. Rojak pasembor
    Also known as rojak mamak or Indian rojak, this is a popular savoury dish with dough fritters, tofu, boiled potatoes, prawn fritters, hard boiled eggs, bean sprouts, cuttlefish and cucumber mixed with a thick, sweet and tangy peanut sauce.
  1. Sup kambing
    Mutton soup dish prepared with tomato, celery, spring onion, ginger, candlenut and lime leaf served with white rice.
  1. Fish head curry
    A shared curry stew dish with fish head, a local delicacy, and assorted vegetables including okra, eggplants and tomatoes served with white rice.
  1. Tandoori chicken
    Roast chicken marinated in yogurt and spices cooked in a cylindrical clay oven called a tandoor. 
  1. Kuih
    Bite-sized desserts typically made of glutinous rice, grated coconut, pandan leaves and palm sugar in a variety of fillings, textures, flavours and colours.
  1. Asam laksa
    Short, thick rice noodles in a sour, fish and tamarind-based soup with shredded fish, onions, pineapple, cucumber, lettuce, mint, prawn paste and chilli.
  1. Mee goreng mamak
    Yellow wheat noodles stir fried with spices, eggs, potatoes, tofu, sweet soy sauce, chopped shallots, onions, garlic and vegetables.
  1. Fried rice
    Rice stir-fried with eggs, vegetables, seafood, or meat.
  1. Roti canai
    A popular breakfast food, roti canai is a flatbread served with dal and curries.
  1. Mee rebus
    Boiled egg noodle dish in a tangy shrimp and soybean-based gravy.
  1. Nasi briyani
    Satisfying aromatic rice dish made with spices and served with a variety of meat, vegetables and curries.
  1. Nasi dagang
    Popular dish from the East Coast of Malaysia consisting of rice steamed in coconut milk, fish curry and pickled cucumber and carrots (acar).
  1. Cendol
    Iced dessert with green rice flour jelly, adzuki beans, coconut milk and palm sugar syrup (Gula Melaka).
  1. Nasi kandar
    Mixed rice dish served with a variety of curries and side dishes.
  1. Thosai
    Popular as a breakfast food, thosai or dosa is a healthy rice pancake/crepe served with chutney.
  1. Nasi kerabu
    Popular rice dish from Malaysia’s East Coast served with meat, crackers, pickles and salads. Nasi kerabu is known for the blue-coloured rice made with a natural food colouring derived from butterfly pea flowers.
  1. Sarawak Laksa
    Sarawak Laksa is Borneo and East Malaysia’s version of laksa, a noodle dish in a tasty, lip-smacking broth.
  1. Kek Lapis
    It’s hard not to fall in love with kek lapis, a traditional cake from Sarawak in East Malaysia.
  1. Pinjaram
    Also known as kuih UFO, pinjaram is a traditional kuih for the Bajau people of Sabah.
  1. Rendang
    A rich and tender coconut beef stew that is explosively flavourful, rendang is often served with nasi lemak.
  1. Rendang Tok
    Rendang tok is a drier version of rendang where chunks of beef are coated in a layer of gravy.

Honorable mentions:

  • Otak-otak;
  • Yong tau foo;
  • Steamboat;
  • Pisang goreng;
  • Apam balik; and
  • Tau foo fa.

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