Meghna Misra
Last Updated 17 May 2023
A Foodie’s Guide To Malaysia: From Street Hawkers To Michelin Stars

Malaysia is known for its diverse cuisine that reflects its multicultural society. From Indian curries to Chinese dumplings, Malay satay to Nasi Lemak, the country has an endless variety of delicious food that attracts food lovers from all over the world. Whether you prefer street food or fine dining, Malaysia has something for everyone. In this blog, we will take you on a journey through Malaysia’s culinary landscape, from street hawkers to Michelin stars.

Malaysian cuisine is a combination of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and other ethnic influences. The flavors are bold, spicy, and often sweet. Rice is a staple food, and dishes are often accompanied by sambal, a spicy sauce made with chili peppers, garlic, and onions. The use of herbs and spices such as lemongrass, ginger, and turmeric is prevalent in Malaysian cuisine, adding a unique flavor to the dishes.

Street Food in Malaysia

The street food scene in Malaysia is vibrant and amazing, and it is where you can find some of the best food in the country. Hawkers, or street vendors, are a common sight in Malaysia, and they offer a variety of dishes that are not only delicious but also affordable. Here are some of the most delicious dishes that are popular among the locals:

Satay: Satay is a popular street food in Malaysia that consists of grilled meat skewers that are marinated in a blend of spices and served with peanut sauce. It is believed to have originated in Indonesia, but it has become a staple in Malaysian cuisine as well.

The meat used in satay can be chicken, beef, or lamb, and it is usually served with a variety of accompaniments such as cucumber, onions, and ketupat, which is a type of rice cake. Satay is a favorite among locals and tourists alike, and it is often found at night markets and street stalls throughout the country.

Nasi Lemak: Nasi Lemak is a staple dish in Malaysia, often eaten for breakfast, and it is available at many street food stalls and restaurants throughout the country. The dish is a reflection of Malaysia’s diverse culinary traditions, combining Chinese, Malay, and Indian influences into a unique and delicious meal.

Nasi Lemak is made of fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaves, giving it a subtle aroma and a slightly sweet flavor. The rice is typically served with a variety of accompaniments, including crispy fried anchovies, peanuts, cucumber slices, and a spicy sambal sauce.

Char Kway Teow: Char Kway Teow is a popular Malaysian street food that is loved by locals and tourists alike. It is a stir-fried noodle dish that is made with flat rice noodles, soy sauce, chili paste, shrimp, and bean sprouts.

The dish is cooked in a wok over high heat, giving it a smoky flavor that is hard to resist. Char Kway Teow is often served with a side of lime and chili sauce, which adds an extra kick of flavor to the dish. It may not be the healthiest dish, but it is certainly one of the tastiest and a must-try for anyone visiting Malaysia. 

Malaysian Cuisine: Malaysian cuisine is a fusion of different culinary traditions, and it is characterized by the use of aromatic herbs and spices. The cuisine draws influences from Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Indonesian cultures, and it is known for its rich and complex flavors.

Nasi Kandar: Nasi Kandar is a popular Malaysian dish that originates from Penang. It is a meal that consists of steamed rice served with a variety of curries and side dishes, such as fried chicken, fish, or vegetables. The curries are usually spicy and rich in flavour, with a mix of Indian and Malay influences. The dish is typically eaten with one’s hands, using the rice to scoop up the curries and other dishes. 

Nasi Kandar can be found in restaurants and street stalls throughout Malaysia, but it is particularly popular in Penang, where it is considered a must-try for anyone visiting the island.

Laksa: Laksa is a spicy noodle soup that is a popular dish in Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries. It is a flavorful dish that is made with a rich broth that is typically made with coconut milk, lemongrass, galangal, and chili paste. The broth is then poured over rice noodles, prawns, fish cakes, and tofu, and is usually garnished with herbs such as mint and cilantro. 

There are many variations of laksa, with different regions and cultures adding their own unique twists to the dish. Whether you prefer it with a sour or spicy flavor, laksa is a must-try for anyone visiting Malaysia or other parts of Southeast Asia.

Hainanese Chicken Rice: Hainanese Chicken Rice is a popular dish in Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, which originated from the Chinese Hainan province. The dish consists of poached chicken, cooked in chicken broth with ginger, garlic, and pandan leaves, and served on a bed of fragrant rice cooked in chicken broth and pandan leaves. It is typically served with chili sauce, ginger sauce, and dark soy sauce. The chicken is incredibly tender and juicy, while the rice is infused with the rich flavours of chicken broth and pandan leaves. 

Hainanese Chicken Rice is a simple yet delicious meal that is loved by locals and visitors alike and can be found in restaurants and hawker centres throughout Malaysia.


Rendang is a traditional dish from Indonesia, but it is also widely popular in Malaysia. It is a slow-cooked beef or chicken dish that is cooked with a mixture of coconut milk and spices, including turmeric, galangal, lemongrass, and chilli peppers. The dish is typically cooked for several hours until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened, resulting in a rich and flavorful dish that is perfect for any occasion. 

Rendang is often served with steamed rice, and it is a favourite dish during special events such as weddings and religious ceremonies. Its complex flavour profile and unique texture make it one of the most popular dishes in Southeast Asia.

Popular Fine Dine In Malaysia

Malaysia is a country that is known for its diverse and delicious cuisine, and there is no shortage of fine dining options to explore. From Michelin-starred restaurants to hidden gems, there is something for everyone in Malaysia’s culinary scene. Here’s a guide to some of the best fine dining options in Malaysia:


This restaurant, located in Kuala Lumpur, has been awarded a coveted Michelin star. The restaurant’s menu focuses on local ingredients and flavors, with dishes such as ikan patin (silver catfish) and sambal tumis (chili paste).

Sage Restaurant & Wine Bar

Located in the Gardens Mall in Kuala Lumpur, Sage is known for its modern European cuisine and extensive wine list. The restaurant’s elegant setting and attentive service make it a popular choice for special occasions.

Bijan Bar & Restaurant

This restaurant in Kuala Lumpur specializes in Malay cuisine with a modern twist. Dishes such as nasi kerabu (blue rice salad) and rendang tok (slow-cooked beef) are served in a stylish and intimate setting.

Feringgi Grill: This restaurant, located in Penang, offers stunning views of the ocean and a menu that focuses on Western cuisine. The restaurant’s signature dish is the Wagyu beef cheek, which is slow-cooked for hours to achieve a melt-in-your-mouth texture.

The Dining Room at The Datai

 Situated in Langkawi, this restaurant offers a fine dining experience in a jungle setting. The menu features local and international dishes, with an emphasis on fresh seafood.


Malaysia is a food lover’s paradise, offering a wide range of culinary experiences from street food to fine dining. Whether you’re indulging in the rich flavors of traditional Malay cuisine or exploring the modern twists on international dishes, Malaysia’s diverse food scene is sure to tantalize your taste buds. From the famous street food markets to the high-end Michelin-starred restaurants, there is no shortage of delicious options to explore. So, whether you’re a seasoned foodie or simply looking to try something new, Malaysia is a destination that should definitely be on your culinary bucket list.