Food In Malaysia: A Foreigner’s Perspective

Malaysia has some of the best food from the world over. The country is a tourist hotspot for a reason. The food here is worth the airfare. As a Bangladeshi man living in Malaysia, I have a unique perspective on it.

The Nasi Lemak is probably the easiest dish to find in Malaysia. It is considered to be the national dish of Malaysia. I have had the Nasi Lemak at a few restaurants. Though not my favourite food in Malaysia, I can certainly see the appeal of fragrant rice with spicy sauce, anchovies and other sides.

Malaysian staple food Nasi Lemak
The Nasi Lemak would be the poster child of Malaysian cuisine, if there was such a poster.
Picture credit: Wikipedia

The Nasi Kandar is basically rice with a variety of side dishes. The rice is accompanied by anything from fried chicken, to beef curry, fried prawn and squid. It also can be accompanied by vegetable dishes if you so choose to. Hanging out at Mamak stalls while having the Nasi Kandar is a great experience.

A Nasi Kandar Mamak, a staple of Malaysian food
Nasi Kandar at a Mamak stall is one of the joys of Malaysia no tourist should miss.
Picture credit: Author

Canai Café is a great place if you’re looking for a Nasi Kandar and iced Milo. Here is a list of Mamak stalls that you could also try, same as me in the coming weeks.

Personal Taste For Food

Born and raised in Bangladesh, I love having spicy food for my meals even though my stomach finds it a bit overpowering. It’s in my genes as a Bangladeshi. So when I first arrived here, it was difficult to adapt to the Malaysian taste, which was primarily an overwhelming sweetness of the food in question. As a person with a sweet tooth myself, I find myself surprised by it. However, there is a limit to that. Even then, the delicious taste of the meals here is and always was beyond question. I still have had issues with the sweetness, at least initially.

Favourite Food: Malaysian Fried Rice And Chicken, The “Nasi Goreng Ayam Mamak

I have had the opportunity to taste several Malaysian dishes in the past few months here. My personal favourite has been the Nasi Goreng Ayam Mamak, a fried rice dish with fried chicken in it. I have it almost every day.

Nasi Goreng Ayam Mamak, a delicious Malaysian dish
Nasi Goreng Ayam Mamak, simply delicious!
Picture credit: Author

The above dish is also available in Bangladesh, albeit with a slightly different presentation. The fried chicken and rice combo is quite popular in Bengali restaurants, except that the chicken is left whole, unlike the local variant. The dish is fried differently as well. The Bangladeshi counterpart is fried separately. Here, it seems to me that the dish is fried together in the sauce. I think that adds to the taste, and makes it unique, alongside the beautiful spices and vegetables that are used in the dish.

Aside from that, I also like Chinese dumplings, all types of Chinese noodles, and soups here in Malaysia. We have some of these in Bangladesh, yet none of them tastes quite as nice. The dumplings here are soft and very easy to chew, with an almost melt-in-your-mouth quality to them. The noodles are springy and perfectly cooked. The soups, although not very complex, are also very tasty.

The Chocolaty Goodness Of Milo Ais

Milo Ais, or literally, iced Milo (sweetened chocolate malt drink) has grown on me recently. Although I have never been a fan, I have come to realise why it is consumed everywhere. Due to Malaysia being a country with very hot weather, it’s only natural that an iced drink would be popular. Yet, it wasn’t something I was too fond of initially. As time went on, I slowly developed a taste for it and have found a few shops that sell wonderfully thick iced Milo. I have since been unable to go a day in this weather without one glass. It’s the simplest drink to make, yet it feels heavenly in the Malaysian tropical weather.

Iced Milo
Iced Milo is heaven on a typically hot Malaysian day.
Picture credit: Author

The preparation of this drink, along with other iced drinks, is also quite different from what I’ve seen in Bangladesh. Usually, cold drinks are made with refrigerated ingredients in Bangladesh. However, in Malaysia, the shopkeepers just make hot Milo, and then add a generous helping of ice to it. It’s an interesting method. It leaves the bottom of the drink warm, and only upon mixing does the entire drink cool down. The drink is usually consumed while chilling or hanging out, so most drink it quite slowly. They do not need to mix the drink much as the cool ice reaches the bottom by the time the people here have drunk the rest of it. I drink a bit faster, however, and I almost certainly need to mix the drink with the ice in it to enjoy it fully.

Favourite Cuisine

Malaysia offers a large variety of cuisines to choose from. Other than the regular nasi (rice) and other dishes, there are also Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Indian and Arab cuisines. All of these different types of food bring a uniqueness to the food culture not found elsewhere. Among all of these different cuisines, I have found the Chinese one to be the most delicious according to my tastes. The dumpling is my favourite in this cuisine. When paired with soup, spicy or otherwise, the dumpling becomes one of the best things I’ve ever had. It’s nothing like what I’ve had before in Bangladesh.

Malaysian street food
A country of many different types of food, a little something for everyone.
Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons

The noodles are also great, as are the soups. Even though I like Malaysian food and Arab food available in Malaysia, Chinese cuisine will always be my fondest food memory from here.

I would personally recommend Chili Pan Mee (a handmade thick noodle) as my favourite Chinese dish in Malaysia.

Chilli Pan Mee
The Chilli Pan Mee, a handmade thick noodle, is a delicious dish of Chinese origins in Malaysia.
Picture credit: Paul Keller


If you are reading this and have not visited Malaysia yet, I suggest doing so soon. The diversity in food is outstanding here and the taste alone justifies making the journey here from another country. While I have so far enjoyed almost everything I’ve eaten in Malaysia, and I certainly hope to enjoy even more dishes this beautiful country has to offer in the coming days.

About Navid IMTIAZ

A typical millennial with interests in all things automotive and tech, Navid is a double major in Restaurant Management and Business. But what's not typical about him is that he's also a veteran writer for international publications, who also lives his life as a keyboard warrior in cyberspace.

3 Replies to “Food In Malaysia: A Foreigner’s Perspective”

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