Malaysian food is some of the most diverse in all of Southeast Asia.
On just about any street, you can choose from Malay, Chinese or Indian cuisine.
Curries are a mainstay of the local diet. You can get chicken and in a curry sauce, served over rice, or curried noodles at nearly any restaurant. Other common dishes include nasi goreng – fried rice – and nasi ayam – chicken in a spicy soy sauce marinade, served with rice. Mee goreng – fried noodles – are also found everywhere.
Roti Canai is a hot flatbread, cooked on a skillet and served with a dipping sauce. It’s cheap and makes a great breakfast or snack.
Indian restaurants will have plenty of dahls and other standards on offer like chicken tandoori. It’s in Indian restaurants where you’ll find the best selection of vegetarian dishes.
Many places have a buffet with dishes ready to eat. You’ll be given a plate of rice to fill yourself with as much or as little as you like. The waitress will eye up what’s on your plate and deliver the bill.
To drink, you’ll only find beer in Chinese restaurants but there are so many great soft drinks on offer you hardly miss the beer. Every drink can be served hot or cold. If you want brewed coffee, ask for kopi. It comes with condensed milk as standard. Request kopi o and you’ll get it black but with a dose of sugar. By the same token, teh is with sweetened milk and teh o is without the milk. Add the word ais if you want it cold.
For a change, ask for teh tarik, literally ‘pulled tea’. It’s brewed with spices and poured from a great height until frothy. Another nice treat in Chinese restaurants is kopi cham ais – a mix of iced tea and coffee. Sounds strange but it’s quite good.
Sometimes you’ll see sugarcane juice by the side of the road. Unlike in Cambodia, this type is green and is sold from large, clear plastic containers at roadside stalls.
Like the rest of the region, whatever you choose will be cheap by Western standards. Expect to pay 3.50-5.00RM for a main dish and 1-1.50RM for a drink. Many restaurants take your money as soon as the food is at the table.