Best of Malaysian Food: Top 10 Dishes and Where to Eat Them

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Malaysia is a culinary paradise, known for its diverse and flavorful cuisine that reflects its rich cultural heritage. From the bustling streets of Kuala Lumpur to the serene beaches of Penang, Malaysian food offers a unique gastronomic experience. In this article, we will explore the best of Malaysian food: top 10 dishes and where to eat them. Whether you’re a food enthusiast or a casual traveler, these recommendations will guide you to the most delicious and authentic Malaysian dishes.

Best of Malaysian Food: Top 10 Dishes and Where to Eat Them

Malaysia’s cuisine is a melting pot of flavors influenced by Malay, Chinese, Indian, and indigenous cultures. Here are the top 10 dishes you must try and the best places to savor them.

1. Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak is Malaysia’s national dish, featuring fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk, served with sambal, fried crispy anchovies, toasted peanuts, boiled egg, and cucumber slices. This hearty dish is often enjoyed for breakfast but is delicious any time of the day.

Where to Eat Nasi Lemak

  • Village Park Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur: Known for its generous portions and rich flavors, Village Park is a favorite among locals and tourists.
  • Nasi Lemak Bumbung, Petaling Jaya: A popular late-night spot, this restaurant is famous for its affordable and tasty Nasi Lemak.

2. Char Kway Teow

Char Kway Teow is a stir-fried noodle dish made with flat rice noodles, prawns, Chinese lap cheong (sausage), eggs, bean sprouts, and chives, all cooked in a savory soy sauce mix. It’s a beloved street food known for its smoky flavor, or “wok hei.”

Where to Eat Char Kway Teow

  • Lorong Selamat, Penang: This street is renowned for its Char Kway Teow stalls, especially the one run by a lady in a red hat.
  • Sisters Char Kway Teow, Kuala Lumpur: Offering a delicious version of this classic dish, this spot is a must-visit for noodle lovers.

3. Laksa

Laksa is a spicy noodle soup with a rich, flavorful broth. There are two main types: Asam Laksa, which has a tamarind-based soup, and Curry Laksa, with a coconut milk-based broth.

Where to Eat Laksa

  • Jalan Penang, George Town: Famous for Asam Laksa, this area is a haven for those seeking the authentic taste of this tangy and spicy dish.
  • Madam Kwan’s, Kuala Lumpur: Known for their creamy and aromatic Curry Laksa, this restaurant offers a modern take on traditional Malaysian flavors.

4. Roti Canai

Roti Canai is a flaky, crispy flatbread served with a side of dhal (lentil curry) or other curries. It’s a popular breakfast dish, perfect for dipping and savoring the different textures and flavors.

Where to Eat Roti Canai

  • Transfer Road, Penang: This area is famous for its street vendors serving delicious Roti Canai with a variety of curry options.
  • Roti Canai Valentine, Kuala Lumpur: Known for its soft and crispy Roti Canai, this spot is a local favorite.

5. Satay

Satay consists of skewered and grilled meat, usually chicken or beef, served with a peanut sauce, rice cakes, and a side of cucumber and onions. The meat is marinated in a flavorful blend of spices, giving it a delicious, smoky taste.

Where to Eat Satay

  • Sate Kajang Haji Samuri, Kajang: Famous for its tender and juicy satay, this restaurant is a must-visit for satay lovers.
  • Restoran Sri Melaka, Melaka: Offering a variety of satay options, this place is known for its rich and flavorful peanut sauce.

6. Hainanese Chicken Rice

Hainanese Chicken Rice is a simple yet flavorful dish consisting of poached chicken served with fragrant rice cooked in chicken broth, accompanied by a side of garlic chili sauce and soy sauce.

Where to Eat Hainanese Chicken Rice

  • Lou Wong Bean Sprout Chicken, Ipoh: This restaurant is famous for its tender chicken and fragrant rice.
  • Nam Heong, Kuala Lumpur: Known for its authentic Hainanese Chicken Rice, this place is a favorite among locals.

7. Rendang

Rendang is a rich and tender coconut beef stew, slow-cooked with a mixture of spices and coconut milk until the meat is tender and the flavors are deeply infused.

Where to Eat Rendang

  • Bijan Bar & Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur: Known for its upscale take on traditional Malay dishes, Bijan offers a delicious Rendang.
  • Nasi Padang Minang, Penang: This restaurant serves a variety of Indonesian and Malay dishes, including a flavorful Rendang.

8. Mee Goreng Mamak

Mee Goreng Mamak is a spicy fried noodle dish, commonly served by Indian-Muslim hawkers. It includes yellow noodles, tofu, potatoes, bean sprouts, and is often garnished with a wedge of lime.

Where to Eat Mee Goreng Mamak

  • Bangkok Lane Mee Goreng, Penang: This spot is famous for its flavorful Mee Goreng, cooked to perfection with a secret blend of spices.
  • Pelita Nasi Kandar, Kuala Lumpur: Known for its Indian-Muslim cuisine, Pelita serves a mean plate of Mee Goreng Mamak.

9. Nasi Kandar

Nasi Kandar is a meal of steamed rice served with a variety of curries and side dishes. It’s a popular dish among Malaysians, especially in the northern states.

Where to Eat Nasi Kandar

  • Line Clear Nasi Kandar, Penang: This legendary spot is known for its rich and flavorful curries.
  • Nasi Kandar Pelita, Kuala Lumpur: Offering a wide range of curries and sides, this restaurant is a go-to for Nasi Kandar.

10. Cendol

Cendol is a popular Malaysian dessert consisting of shaved ice, coconut milk, green rice flour jelly, and palm sugar syrup. It’s a refreshing treat perfect for Malaysia’s tropical climate.

Where to Eat Cendol

  • Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul, Penang: Known for its authentic and delicious Cendol, this spot is a must-visit.
  • Jonker 88, Melaka: Offering a variety of traditional Malaysian desserts, Jonker 88 is famous for its Cendol.


In conclusion, the best of Malaysian food: top 10 dishes and where to eat them offers a culinary journey through Malaysia’s rich and diverse food culture. From the spicy and savory to the sweet and refreshing, these dishes represent the essence of Malaysian cuisine. Make sure to visit the recommended restaurants to experience these flavors at their best.


Q: What is the national dish of Malaysia? A: The national dish of Malaysia is Nasi Lemak, a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and served with various accompaniments.

Q: Are these dishes halal? A: Most of these dishes are halal, but it’s always best to check with the restaurant to ensure they meet your dietary requirements.

Q: Can I find vegetarian options in Malaysian cuisine? A: Yes, Malaysian cuisine offers a variety of vegetarian options. Dishes like Roti Canai and Mee Goreng Mamak can be made vegetarian.

Q: Where can I find the best street food in Malaysia? A: Penang and Kuala Lumpur are renowned for their vibrant street food scenes, offering a wide array of delicious options.

Q: Is Malaysian food spicy? A: Malaysian food can be quite spicy, but many dishes can be adjusted to suit your spice tolerance. Don’t hesitate to ask for a milder version if needed.

By following this guide, you can enjoy the best of Malaysian cuisine and make the most of your culinary adventure in Malaysia. Happy eating!

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