My wife and I have been in Malaysia for several months now and we have tried a lot of delicious Malaysian food. Let’s take a look! I’ll be rating 12 types of Malaysian food. I’m going to give each one of these either a thumbs up or a thumbs down depending on whether or not I liked it. These are just my opinions and everyone has different taste buds. Your favorites might be different from mine, and that’s okay!
(Click the link below if you would rather watch a video with all of the same information that is in this article: Rating Malaysian Food).
Alright, let’s begin rating Malaysian food!
Ayam Kapitan – Thumbs Up
Ayam kapitan is a Nyonnya dish, which is a blend of both Chinese and Malaysian influences. This chicken is topped with a chili and curry sauce, also with coconut milk, lemongrass, and turmeric. This dish is just a tad bit high on the spicy side for me, but at the same time not so spicy as to not enjoy it. So I give ayam kapitan a thumbs up.
Ayam Penyet – Thumbs Up
This is another chicken dish, actually more Indonesian from what I understand, but also common here in Malaysia. I had this twice, in both Penang and Kota Bharu. The chicken gets pounded down so that it’s flatter and softer, and then it gets fried. I’m glad the sauce came on the side both times that I ordered it because it was too spicy for me, so I could use just a little bit of it. But I really like the way this chicken is prepared, and so ayam penyet gets a thumps up from me.
Cendol – Thumbs Up
Next we’re going to have some cendol, and this is actually a desert. It’s made with shaved ice, and also some green jelly noodles, coconut milk, some sugar, and also beans. To us as Americans it seemed weird to have beans in a dessert, but the beans are sweet, not like the earthy flavor beans,. This was really good. I give this delicious dessert a thumbs up.
Char Kway Teow – Thumbs Up
Next is char kway teow, which is basically a stir-fried noodle dish. And I actually made this dish myself at a cooking school in Penang. It normally has shrimp or prawns in it, although I made mine with chicken. It gets mixed with lemongrass, egg, bean sprout, shallots, soy sauce, and several other ingredients. And I’m normally not a big fan of stir-fry type dishes, but this was really good, delicious actually, and this is another thumbs up from me.
Clay Pot – Thumbs Up
Next is clay pot, which is a way of cooking that is common in many areas of the world, but it’s also a way of cooking that I was totally unfamiliar with before coming to Malaysia. The rice gets cooked in the pot and then the ingredients get added. For us these ingredients included chicken, soy sauce, egg, and mushrooms. The clay pot gave the food a slightly more earthy, smoky flavor, but it seemed like it was a subtle difference. But we really enjoyed this dish, and it gets a thumbs up.
Kacang Phool – Thumbs Up
This is actually a Middle Eastern dish but it can be found here in Malaysia, especially in the south. It made mostly out of beans, but you can get it with chicken or beef. What I really liked was the bread that came with the kacang phool. Really thick buttery bread, you can also get it with garlic or with cheese. And it reminded me of back home sometimes for lunch I would have a grilled cheese sandwich with American chili. And you can actually order sandwiches here with the kacang phool put inside the sandwich. This is another thumbs up here.
Nasi Kandar – Thumbs Up
Next is nasi kandar, which is a dish that originated in Penang and it might be one of Penang’s most famous dishes (although it does have kind of an Indian flavor to it). It consists of rice together with a mix of several different curries, and also served with chicken and vegetables. And nasi kandar is delicious, I’ve had it several times at several different restaurants. This not only gets a thumbs up, but it’s probably my favorite Malaysian food that I’ve had so far.
Nasi Lemak – Thumbs Down
Many call the nasi lemak the national dish of Malaysia and you can find it everywhere. We bought some nasi lemak at the grocery store and took it home to eat. It didn’t seem that bad when I first tasted it. But the more I ate it the more the anchovy flavor started to build, and I never have liked the taste of fish. So sorry nasi lamak, but I have to give this a thumbs down. This is just my opinion, and I know many people love this. (After publishing the Youtube video, several viewers commented that the nasi lemak from the grocery store can be low quality. So maybe I’ll try it again, but this time from somewhere that does it right!)
Ramly Burger – Thumbs Up
Next is the Ramley Burger, and these burgers can be bought at food stands all around the country. They are named after the company that makes the patties, and you can actually buy the patties in the grocery stores. I’ve seen both chicken and beef. And I don’t know what is in these burger patties that make them so good. They truly have a delicious flavor, both when I make them myself and also when I buy them from a vendor. And so Ramley burgers get a definite thumbs up from me.
Rojak – Thumbs Down
Next is rojak, and when I first heard about this I really thought I would like it. Rojak is a type of fruit salad, but mixed with a sauce that looks like chocolate (but really nothing like chocolate). It’s a little sweet, but also spicy, and to me at least it also tasted a little bit like it had a fish flavory. And sorry, I just didn’t like it (no offense to those of you who do). But I had to give this a thumbs down.
Roti Canai – Thumbs Up
This is a type of bread. As an American I would describe it as a cross between a tortilla and a pita, but it’s a little bit more chewy or elastic in texture. People usually dip the roti in a wonderful curry sauce. I tried to make my own roti in the cooking class I took and it didn’t go well. It kept falling apart and I couldn’t flip it the right way. But what I did learn from that class is that it’s better to leave the roti to the experts who really know how to make this the right way and really know how to do it well. It is absolutely delicious when made properly. I would eat roti canai everyday and it gets a big thumbs up from me.
Satay – Thumbs Up
And the final rating for Malaysian food is for satay, and there isn’t really too much to say about satay because it’s just meat on a stick. But I love the way the meat is seasoned, I love the way the meat is cooked, and I love the way the meat tastes. So satay gets a big thumbs up.
So there is my rating for Malaysian food. Again, these are just my opinions. And if you want to see more food from Penang, check our are article on Penang’s best international cuisine.