What you need to EAT in Malaysia

I think after six months of living in Malaysia I’m officially allowed to speak as if I know Malaysia food (although my Malaysian friends may disagree).

One of the best things about Malaysia is it’s food. Seriously. Unfortunately a lot of people skip Malaysia when they do their “tour” of South East Asia so whenever I meet someone who’s traveling and they did decide to check out Malaysia I make sure to ask them why. The most common answer I hear “the food.” Seriously. That’s how good it is. And it’s not just the Malay food, it’s the Indian and Chinese food as well.

I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago and I told her I’m scared that when I go back to the U.S. I’m going to think the food is so bland because there’s so many mixes of flavors in the food here. So good! Here’s my list of MUST eat foods in Malaysia (in no particular order):

1) Nasi Ayam – This is my go to lunch most days. Nasi means rice and Ayam means Chicken. It sounds so simple but it’s so good and pretty much a staple of Malaysian food. The Nasi Ayam pictured below has a almost teriyaki like sauce, a spicy sauce and a side of chicken broth.

My typical lunch from the Malay place next to my work.

2) Nasi Lemak – Nasi Lemak is the traditional Malay breakfast. (Don’t look up what Lemak means… OK ok, it means fat. So it translates to fat rice. I don’t care it’s delicious.) Nasi Lemak consists of rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf, Sambal sauce (spicy!), boiled egg, peanuts and anchovies. Typically it’s sold in a little triangle packets made out of a banana leaf.  Chicken isn’t necessarily in regular Nasi Lemak but it makes it even more delicious


Personally I think Village Park in Damansara Uptown has the best Nasi Lemak in KL, and my students tell me the same. Their chicken is so crispy and delicious.

3) Asam Laksa (or Penang Laksa)  – I hate fish. Like with a passion. I sat next to someone in our team meeting last week who was eating fish, and I moved to the other side of the table because of the smell. When I was planning my trip to Penang I was told I had to get Asam Laksa, I tried it and loved it! I had no clue the main ingredient was fish! Asam Laksa is a sour fish and noodle soup, mainly flavored with tamarind. Curry Laksa is also delicious. If you want to know more about Penang check out my post 5 Awesome things to do in Penang.





4) Cendol – This month when I went to Penang with a friend she made me try Cendol. I was hesitant typically anything with red bean is not my thing. But it was delicious.  It’s like a snow cone with other weird things in it, specifically on top of the ice is coconut milk, jelly noodles (made from rice flour and pandan), and red beans. It’s so refreshing on a hot day!

5) Kaya – Kaya is a coconut jam like sauce that is put on toast. It’s delicious. I’ve been trying to find other things I can do with it. Maybe Kaya cupcakes?   Omg. I just thought of Kaya Buttercream Frosting. Yummm!

6) Poori and Appam– Both Poori and Appam are Indian dishes. Both are delicious. Poori is a fried bread that comes with different curries and dahl. Appam is a pancake like thing made out of coconut milk. It’s a delicious, sweet, almost gelatin like substance. Honestly it looks gross, it’s delicious.

Chelo’s Appam Stall in Bangsar has amazing Poori and Appam.

Side note: If you are in Malaysia you should at some point try an Indian banana leaf restaurant, which just means you’re eating off of a banana leaf instead of a plate.


7) Char Kway Teow – Char Kway Toew, a Chinese Malaysian dish, reminds me a ot of Pad Thai even though the sauce is completely different. It’s fried noodles with egg and bean sprouts, preserved Chinese sausages, cooked in oil, soy sauce and shrimp paste. Yummm!



I really only touched on some of the awesome food here! Honestly after six months of being here I don’t think I’ve had a single bad meal and that includes buying food at road side stalls off the highway in the middle of nowhere. Mmmm I’m making myself hungry! Oh I didn’t even talk about curry puffs! I could live off of curry puffs.

 Read Next: 5 Awesome things to do in Penang



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Megan is from sunny California and is currently living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She funds her travels by teaching students with learning challenges and students applying to U.S. universities. She loves traveling like a local, eating amazing food and is always up for an adventure. Check out her about me section to learn more!

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