A mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian influences will give what can overthrill your taste buds. For short, I’m just gonna call it Malaysian food.
Rendang (beef, chicken or lamb)
Though sometimes erroneously called a curry, Malaysian food aficionados point out that this chunky cauldron of coconut milk and spices is nothing of the sort.
The difference is in how it’s prepared: slowly simmered (to let the meat absorb the spices) until the rosy liquid completely evaporates.
A favorite, especially during festive seasons, rendang is found across Malaysia.
Variety, variety, variety — that’s way to explore kuih, or Malay-style pastries. Small enough to snap up in a gulp and sugary enough to give you a modest jitter, kuih vendors are the most colorful stalls of all.
This kaleidoscope of soft, sugary morsels goes quickly — few pieces are left by the time daylight begins to fade.
Nasi kandar is essentially rice served with your own choice of toppings, which commonly include curry, fish, egg and okra in this Malaysian food. Everything is laid out buffet style, though you can also order à la carte.
Found all over Malaysia, nasi kandar eateries are extremely popular, most open 24 hours and run by ethnic Indian Muslims.
Popia basah (wet spring roll)
A hefty sort of spring roll, popia basah speaks to those in need of the familiar crispy snack, but without the added oil.
Not to be confused with wet rolls found in parts of Vietnam, popia basah comes complete with its own regional-specific flavor. In place of lettuce, the Malay wet spring roll has turnips, fried onions and bean sprouts.
A staple of Malaysian food, laksa eateries have been migrating abroad in recent years, making appearances in Bangkok, Shanghai and further afield.
There are multiple variations. For anyone who enjoys a taste of the volcanic kind, this spicy noodle soup can get you there in its curry form. Some like it with fish, others prawns.
Our favorite is Penang’s asam laksa, in which tamarind features heavily (“asam” is Malay for tamarind) to create a spicy-sour fish broth.