Updated: Jul 10, 2020
If you haven't been to Malaysia, you should probably know that not only is the country MASSIVE but there is such a collection of different cultures and religions in Malaysia. This is why there is such a huge range of food and different delicacies you have to try. From Chinese to Indian to Taiwanese to Indonesian -- the country is rich of history and fascinating people but best part is Penang is actually the street food capital in Asia.
We weren't kidding when we said Malaysia is one of our favorite countries we have ever been to, if not our #1 Favorite. We are such foodie advocates, well mainly me, Kirstie was grown/forced into it. If you are too, you have to go to Penang and Melaka for a full packed adventure of flavor.
#1 Curry Mee in Georgetown, Penang
If you are in West Malaysia, Penang is such a cool, eclectic town full of history and street art buts especially famous for the street food. On Chulia Street, there will be a line of hawker stands selling the best of the best with Malaysian favorites like the famous Curry Mee. Curry Mee was really just love at first bite... or slurp. The classic is a proper Malay soup that is coconut-curry based with chicken, prawns, coriander and a mix of other spices. Note: A lot of Malay food will be spicy.
#2 Char Kuey Teow in Penang
A very common street food you'll find all over Malaysia is their version of stir-fried flat noodles with soy sauce, bean sprouts and chives. Typically you can add a protein to it - we have had egg, oyster, and shrimp before along with peanuts and never forget - chilis. This is similar to your pad Thai.
#3 Roti Canai
Roti Canai is a nice treat that always gets us. It is a flaky, buttery flat bread that has a texture of a crepe and usually served with 1-3 different curries. The bread pulls apart and is made on the spot so you can see the smoke leaving your mouth. It is an Indian dish so you can find this at a lot of the 24 hour spots. This is both the best and the worst thing.
#4 Curry Laksa
You have not gone to Malaysia if you haven't had Laksa. This is a hot and spicy, coconut curry soup with rice noodles, shrimp and chicken.
#5 Nasi Lemak
This is a classic Malay dish that is a fragrant coconut rice served with roasted peanuts, hard boiled egg, and sambal (chili Malay sauce) and often paired fried anchovies and topped with fried fish, chicken, or beef curry. This is often served for breakfast on a pandan leaf. There's a ton of versions like this: another favorite is Nasi Kerabu which has distinct blue coconut rice and served with fried chicken.
#6 Hainanese Chicken and Rice
This dish migrated from Hainan, China and made its way over to Malaysia. The chicken is poached leaving crispy skin on top and served with seasoned rice, a side of cucumbers, chili sauce and a tasty broth to douse your chicken and rice in.
Desserts & Drinks
#7 Ais Kacang
Air Kacang literally means "beans with rice". We ate this dessert about everyday while in Malaysia. This isn't a typical dessert nor is it super sweet but it is definitely worth a try if you go into it open-minded. This popular dessert is a mixture of shaved ice, red beans, green cendol, a range of fruits, and splashes of rose syrup and condensed milk. (We promise it tastes better than it looks.)
#8 Teh Tarik
Tek Tarik literally means pulled tea and is famous across Malaysia and Singapore. It's a strongly brewed black tea combined with condensed milk leaving it rich and creamy and frothy on top. You'll often see this paired with Roti.
#9 Kuih Kosui (Glutinous Rice and Coconut Dessert)
You'll recognize all these wobbly, jello and colorful looking desserts sold at outdoor markets. There's a range of different kinds but for the most part these are little steamed rice cakes with Gula Melaka or palm sugar and coconut coating.
Cendol can be found in the hidden streets of Penang, KL, and a ton of places in Malaysia. This is a bowl of shaved ice and coconut milk, filled with chewy green jelly (cendol), red beans and a splash of brown sugar syrup otherwise known as Gula Melaka.
#11 Apam Balik - stuffed pancakes
These are more than just pancakes. It's slightly crispy and warm and fluffy on the inside with your choice of filling. We got peanuts, chocolate and peanut butter in ours but you can pick anything from bananas and condensed milk and even some savory options with corn and other fillings.