Top 7 Must Try Malaysian Food

Being a country that is beautifully composed of different races and culture, Malaysia’s diverse culture shows prominently in the food it has to offer. A little of everything, an explosion of flavours and textures are just some things to say about Malaysia’s food. In such a diversified assortment of food, we have carefully picked out 7 Malaysian dishes that you have to taste at least once in your life, whether you’re a local or if you’re visiting the country.

1. Laksa 

@Mid Valley Megamall

When a local think of Laksa, different tastes and images might come to mind, as the way of preparing varies differently in different parts of the country. Laksa is typically a spicy and sour broth-based dish with thick noodles or rice vermicelli, with fish, prawns and sometimes chicken slices and egg as well. There are different types of Laksa available throughout the country like Penang Assam Laksa, which is the spicy and sour version with mackerel, lemongrass, and chilli to give the broth a strong and defined flavour.

Curry Laksa, Sarawak Laksa, Nyonya Laksa and more are few of the different types of Laksa you can find in most hawker stalls and restaurants here in Malaysia. It doesn’t matter which type of Laksa you get your hands on, they are all uniquely comforting in their own way.

2. Nasi Lemak

 @El Mundo Eats

We know you’ve probably heard of this, and were probably also expecting it. Nasi Lemak is what instantly comes to mind when you think of Malaysian food. The original kind of Nasi Lemak is rice cooked in coconut milk or santan, with pandan leaves which gives the rice a beautiful fragrance. The rice is paired with a spicy sambal, boiled eggs, roasted groundnuts, fried anchovies and sliced cucumbers. But this dish is so customizable that each recipe can be altered to preference. Some restaurants serve the dish with prawn sambal, or they add fried chicken with it, some prefer it with a fried egg or even a sunny side-up! There are vegetarian versions to this dish, or with additions that will satisfy even the hungriest carnivore. No matter which type is your pick, it is definite that the spice from the sambal, the crunch from the peanuts and the creaminess from the rice is sure to take your meal to a whole new level!

3. Roti Canai 

 @Rojak Daily

Roti canai or roti parotta is a type of flatbread that originated in India. A ball of dough is spread out and folded repeatedly and flipped in the air which allows thin crispy layers to form when it is cooked. This dish is found almost everywhere in Malaysia, at very low cost. It comes in many different varieties, especially in mamak stalls across the country. The plain version tastes amazing by itself, but when it is added with egg, condensed milk, bananas or every other topping you could imagine, it is a whole different experience than the other. The roti canai is great to be savoured on its own but it can be also dipped in an array of curries, or drenched in it (we don’t judge!). The best place to get a roti canai will be at Indian stalls or at mamak stalls, and paired with a steaming cup of teh tarik, you have a quick and tasty breakfast, lunch or dinner at hand.

4. Nasi Kerabu 


Taking a trip to the eastern coast of Peninsular Malaysia, you will find that Nasi Kerabu is found almost everywhere. Originating from Kelantan and Terengganu, Nasi Kerabu is a dish that is made of blue rice, fried chicken or fish, and different types of salads, pickles, crackers or fried keropok. What makes this dish unique is its vibrant colours, especially from the rice. The rice is cooked with butterfly-pea flower extract, which gives the rice its blue colour. Its condiments and sides packs a plethora of different flavours and textures that sync perfectly with each other. Apart from butterfly-pea, the rice is also cooked with turmeric or plain at times. Along with the anchovy sauce, budu or sambal nyor, Nasi Kerabu makes a pretty exotic breakfast dish, that’s also a feast for the eyes.

5. Banana Leaf Rice 

@KL Foodie

This may be a dish that began in India, but it is definitely a must try Malaysian dish now! To begin with, unlike other dishes, banana leaf rice isn’t served on a plate. Yep, you guessed it; it is served on a large banana leaf. Amongst the many reasons banana leaf is a great substitute for plates, its contribution to health stands out the most. Banana leaves are packed with plant-based compounds called polyphenols, which are natural antioxidants that battle free radicals and prevent diseases. Banana leaves are hard to digest when eaten on its own, but when you use it as a plate, the nutrients combine with your food, allowing you to gain its benefits without actually eating the leaf. Banana leaf rice is usually served with white rice, several different types of vegetable dishes and curry, fried poppadom and sometimes dessert. Some places even let you choose non-vegetarian versions where you can choose to add meat or seafood dishes. Banana Leaf Rice can be found in most Indian restaurants nationwide. After your banana leaf meal, be sure to down some sweet lassi to pamper your taste buds after eating all the different spices.

6. Char Kuey Teow 

@Fried Chillies

This is the ultimate kuey teow dish. Char Kuey Teow is a favourite Malaysian dish. It literally means stir fried rice cake strips. The dish is stir fried in large wok, with beansprouts, eggs, cockles, prawns and a bunch of sauces that gives it the irresistible taste and colour. The most important element of the perfect Char Kuey Teow dish is the wok hei. Wok Hei translated in English is ‘breath of the wok’. It is the charred aroma of anything that is stir fried in hot oil or pork fat. A good plate of Char Kuey Teow has the perfect amount of all the condiments along with this wok hei and a generous serving of prawn. This dish would cost you anywhere between RM 6 or more, depending on where you get it. However, many locals agree that the best Char Kuey Teow is from the stalls by the road or hawker centres where the wok is constantly producing plates after plates of Char Kuey Teow.

7. Lemang with Rendang 


Ever seen long bamboo sticks being roasted under a fire by the roadside during Eid Mubarak? There is a very good chance that you have. These bamboo sticks are filled with glutinous rice, coconut milk, salt wrapped in banana leaf and roasted under fire. This dish is called lemang and it is commonly eaten with chicken rendang or beef rendang. Lemang and rendang are exceptionally famous and can be found everywhere during Eid Mubarak or Hari Raya Aidilfitri, a festival that celebrates the end of the fasting period for Muslims. Lemang by itself is slightly salty, creamy and very sticky. Rendang on the other hand is made with a huge variety of spices and herbs which gives the dish a spicy thick gravy and a fragrant aroma, making it a splendid match for the lemang.