Food and Drink in MalaysiaKirsty Turner
Malaysia is a great place for people who love to eat and experiment with food. There are a wide range of Malay, Chinese and Indian dishes available through the country and some interesting mixtures of culinary styles. As you travel through Malaysia, look out for regional specialities and try to experience the full range of Malay cuisine.
Hawker stalls and coffee shops are good places to find a cheap and tasty meal. Hawker stalls tend to be very clean and open until late in the evening. Curry dishes and other meals in western style restaurants, while seafood restaurants serve fresh fish prepared in the Chinese style. For western food, head to the shopping malls, where you will usually find a large food court with a number of well known fast food restaurants.
Here is a selection of the numerous dishes you will find on your travels in Malaysia:
Nasi lemak – the most common Malaysian breakfast dish consists rice cooked in light coconut milk with anchovies, peanuts, a slice of cucumber and a little chilli.
Rendang – usually made with beef, this dry curry dish consists of stewed meat in a spicy curry paste.
Chilli crab – a whole crab is covered with a generous amount of sticky, strong chilli sauce.
Laksa – this dish varies from place to place but is basically a coconut both with seafood or chicken.
Bak chor mee – this noodle dish is cooked in a chilli-based sauce with minced pork, fried anchovies, vegetables and mushrooms.
Popiah – these delicious spring rolls can be either fried or raw. Filled with boiled turnips, fried tofu, fried shallots and garlic, chopped omelette, chopped stir fried long beans, there is usually a sweet chilli sauce to dip them in.
Hainanese chicken rice – usually found on street stalls, this steamed chicken dish is served with special gently spiced rice and tasty ginger.
Bubur cha-cha – a traditional Malay desert with cubed yam, sweet potato and sago added to coconut milk soup.
Kuih – this sweet desert is made with coconut milk, coconut flesh and either glutinous rice or tapioca. It is often made into cute and colourful designs.
Avoid drinking tap water and drinks with ice in Malaysia. Bottled water is cheap and easy to find.
Coffee – known as kopi – and tea – teh – are both popular and tasty drinks in Malaysia as well as a local variation known as teh tarik. Tea and coffee usually comes hot, with condensed milk to sweeten it. If you don’t want milk ask for teh o, while teh ais will get you iced milky tea.
Also popular is a drink known as kopi tongkat ali ginseng, which is a mixture of coffee, a local aphrodisiacal root and ginseng served with condensed milk.
Despite being a predominately Muslim country, alcohol is widely available throughout Malaysia. Beer and other alcohol can be bought in bars, restaurants and 7-11 shops. The local brew is tuak, which fermented rice wine that comes in many forms. Usually served lukewarm, tuak is often flavoured with sugar or honey.