In search of authentic Malaysian Cuisine

August 8, 2012 by Berjaya Times Square

More than just sustenance, food is a cultural expression. Thanks to its historical significance as a key trading post between the East and West for hundreds of years, Malaysia has developed a unique cuisine that we're very proud of.

Broadly speaking, Malaysian cuisine is derived from Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisines, as these races make up the majority of the country's population. However, that only tells part of the story as the country's dishes are peppered with culinary influences from surrounding Southeast Asian countries, Portugal, and the Middle East.

  • Origins of Malay Dishes

    Origins of Malay Cuisine

    Malay cuisine varies from region to region, but they do share a common use of rempah (spices), ulam (raw vegetables) and coconut milk in their cooking.
    Check out authentic Malay cuisine at Restoran Rasa Utara
  • Origins of Malaysian Chinese Dishes

    Origins of Malaysian Chinese Cuisine

    Malaysian Chinese cuisine, on the other hand, draws influences from the migrant Cantonese, Hokkien, Hainanese, Hakka and Szechuan communities.
  • Origins of Malaysian Indian Dishes

    Origins of Malaysian Indian Cuisine

    Malaysian Indian cuisine is mostly influenced by the migrant South Indian population, resulting in a strong, spicy profile.
    For a spicy adventure, visit Station Kopitiam or Taste of Asia



And then there are mixed cuisines that are unique only to Malaysia. Among these is the Nyonya or "Peranakan" cuisine, which evolved from a blend of Malay and Chinese cooking styles. Otak-otak, Buah Keluak and Asam Laksa are just some of the distinctive dishes that are all at once sweet, sour, and spicy. The best of the Peranakan dishes can mostly be found in Penang and Malacca, where these communities first came about.

Kuala Lumpur, being the nation's capital, is the place to taste the best of Malaysian food.

From fine-dining restaurants, to street-side food hawkers that stay open until the wee hours of the morning, KL's culinary scene is one that virtually never sleeps - simply because the food's too good to miss out on.

Foodie Tips
  • Don't worry about what the dish is called. When unsure, just look around for what you like, and point.
  • Malay and Indian cuisines tend to be spicy, as they often use various types of spices and chilies.
  • Established street food vendors, such as the one on Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur, have been a favourite among locals for decades, and are generally safe to consume
  • For more recommendations about the best places to eat in KL, try reading food blogs such as FriedChillies, EatDrinkKL, and EatingAsia