Street food in Malaysia is rich in flavor and is always bombarded with different spices. It’s one of the things Malaysia is famous for. Indonesia, India, and China vastly influence Malaysian street food. Locals love rice and heavy meals, so prepare your tummy for a blast.
While there are fried and sinful dishes, what is also fascinating about Malaysia’s street food scene is also the numerous healthy options on offer. There is so much to unfold in these incredible Malaysian street foods.
Seafood Dishes In Malaysian Street Food
Ikan Bakar (Grilled Fish)
The first street food in Malaysia we want you to try is called “Iklan Bakar.” This mouth-watering fish dish comes from both Indonesia and Malaysia. This dish is cooked on a charcoal grill, resulting in a sweet, herby, and smoky aroma that will surely enhance your appetite.
The fish is grilled while wrapped in a banana leaf. Wrapping the fish in banana leaves helps contain the juiciness of the fish and to avoid burning the fish’s skin.
The resulting taste is a fusion of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors. This Malaysian street food is always accompanied by a sour sauce or soy sauce seasoned with calamansi (Philippine lime) and tomato. It also pairs well with rice.
Our next Malaysian street food is exquisite—a very gift from the sea. Grilled clam is a trendy Kuala Lumpur street food.
Vendors usually cook this dish on corrugated street metal. You can watch how this clam pops as it cooks. Be sure to listen for the funny sound it makes.
This street food has a firm and rubbery texture. Grilled clam is usually cooked in a Samba sauce, resulting in a smoky aroma and a sweet coconut flavor. This Malaysian street food only comes in one bite-sized portion, so make sure you buy a couple.
Meat-Based Street Food In Malaysia
Itik Salai Masthar (Smoked Duck Curry)
Itik Salai Masthar is a fascinating street food in Malaysia. While curry dishes are common in Asia, duck curry is rather rare. It is a combination of smoked duck and aromatic, flavorful curry.
It features the creaminess and spiciness of a curry and the smokiness of duck meat. The duck is cooked to be tender and moist, while the curry just goes superbly well with warm rice. You can even ask for more chili sauce if you like an added kick of spice.
As the name suggests, this dish is prepared and served in a clay pot. Cooking in a sealed clay pot traps the flavors, resulting in a concentrated, deep flavor.
Claypot chicken consists of rice, Chinese sausage, and chunks of chicken. The Chinese sausage has an extra chewy and jerky texture. It is sweet and savory, with a little rose wine flavor.
This Malaysian street food is always served right after it finishes cooking, so it is always nice and hot.
Beef rendang is the national dish of Malaysia, and it steals the hearts of locals and tourists alike.
This flavorful dish has a smooth buttery taste and a thick, soft texture. It is very spicy, combined with the taste of caramelized coconut milk. The secret to this hearty Malaysian street food is the long cooking time.
Beef rendang is not just a popular breakfast food in Malaysia, but you can basically have it anytime. It pairs really well with rice as you can use it to soak up all that delish sauce.
Rice-Based Street Food In Malaysian
Nasi Kerabu (Rice Salad)
Nasi Kerabu is one of the healthy street foods in Malaysia. The main component of this Malaysian street food is the blue rice that is naturally colored by butterfly pea flowers. This dish can also include vegetables, meat, and fish.
The blue rice helps detoxify the body, enriches the skin, is anti-inflammatory, and has anti-carcinogenic properties. It also reduces the chances of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. It’s not just healthy, it is also filling and flavorful.
If you are into a more filling dish, this street food in Malaysia is definitely made for you. Nasi Lemak consists of rice that is cooked in coconut milk and pandan, giving it an immense aroma and taste.
It is usually served with samba sauce, roasted peanuts, ikan bilis (anchovies), cucumber and some form of protein. The roasted peanuts add a nutty flavor, while the cucumber adds a refreshing crunch. For those who love spicy food, the samba makes or breaks the dish.
Common protein sides to go along with the rice include fried chicken wings, egg or fish. Nasi Lemak is both satisfying and filling, making it a great choice for an on-the-go meal.
Soups And Noodles In Malaysian Street Food
This street food in Malaysia is also known as stir-fried noodles. It is a breakfast in Malaysia that can be prepared very quickly, making it a great choice for street vendors.
Mee goreng has a spicy, sweet, and savory taste. It is filled with chunks of chicken, shrimp, fish cakes, and sunny-side-up eggs. It also comes with spicy chili sauce for dipping.
Laksa is a very spicy noodle dish. Students grow up with this comforting street food in Malaysia, perfect for rainy days. The noodles are very thick and chewy.
Laksa has this fried tofu puff that acts like a sponge; the perfect combination of spicy and creamy flavors bursts in your mouth when you bite it. This Malaysian street food also includes chicken, prawn, fish, bean sprouts, cilantro, lime, and egg. Laksa is undoubtedly a warm and fulfilling meal that will complete your day.
This Malaysian street food consists of a broth with a concentrated beefy flavor. Ngiu Chap also includes thin strip beef, beef balls, and beef tendon.
Beef balls can be a source of protein, help balance hormones, and provide amino acids, making them a great and tasty option.
Ngiu Chap has a spicy and slightly sour broth. The beef strips have a firm texture, while the beef balls are soft. It has a pleasantly sour aroma.
Desserts In Malaysia Street Food
Have you ever had a Durian? Many people don’t like it because it stinks, but it has a robust and noticeable sweetness and creamy consistency comparable to cheese. It’s one of those love it or hate it fruit.
For many Malaysians, this is a delicacy; thus earning it the reputation of being the “king of fruits”. That said, many chefs try to incorporate a durian spin/version to certain pastries or desserts.
Cendol is an iced sweet dessert, so it’s a popular street food in Malaysia during warm weather. It contains green rice, wormlike pandan jelly, coconut milk, and palm sugar. The palm sugar gives a vanilla and caramel custard flavor, while the pandan jelly gives it a refreshing essence.
Durian Cendol is an enhanced version of this refreshing Malaysian dessert, topped with – you guessed it – durian. This makes the cooling refreshment extra creamy, along with the aromatic taste and smell of durian.
Cendol Ice Cream
This famous street food in Malaysia has a very refreshing taste and feel. Like Durian Cendol, this dish also includes pandan jelly, which gives it an aromatic quality.
Cendol ice cream is topped with sweetened red beans, giving the dish a nutty, earthy sweet flavor. It also has a swirl of palm sugar that gives a very gently sugary taste. If you ever see someone who sells this on the streets of Malaysia, do yourself a favor and buy one.
Tepung Delita is a petite sized street food in Malaysia that is easy to eat. This dish consists of two kuih layers: santan and pandan, made from rice flour. Kuih in South East Asia is used commonly to refer to some kind of steamed cake.
This Malaysian street food is served in a small handmade boat made with banana or pandan leaves. It’s not excessively sweet and is so fluffy and soft that it melts in your mouth. The santan layer is slightly salty, while the pandan has a creamy coconut flavor.
Tofu pudding is another refreshing street food in Malaysia. The main ingredient here is essentially soft tofu with maple syrup. Tofu pudding is rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus, making it a rather healthy option.
To make it more fancy, this Malaysian street food can also be topped with boiled mochi balls, brown sugar bob, and sweetened red beans. It works as a versatile base to accommodate other toppings.
The cooked mochi balls have a sweet filling and are very chewy. The sweetened red beans give the tofu pudding a nutty and earthy flavor. The combination of flavors complement each other well.
Fried Ice Cream
What!? Fried ice cream? Yes, you heard that right. While it might sound peculiar to many, this is actually a dessert you can find in other parts of the world such as the United States.
This street food of Malaysia has an intriguing fusion of texture. It is warm, crispy, and crunchy on the outside but cold, soft, and moist inside. Fried ice cream can be topped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle. Refreshingly sweet, right?
Snacks In Malaysian Street Food
This street food in Malaysia is the unofficial national bread of Malaysia. You can find it practically everywhere. It was ranked the second-best Street Food in the world in 2022.
Roti Canai is a layered flat bread typically dipped in dal sauce. It is soft on the inside and flaky on the outside and has an eggy and buttery flavor.
Otak-Otak is a Southeast Asian pancake. This Malaysian street food’s name comes from the Malay word forbrain. This is a grilled mixture of fish wrapped in banana leaves. The fish mixture includes chopped onions, coconut milk, herbs, spices and eggs.
The taste is similar to that of fish cakes, only grilled. Otak-Otak is a mouth-watering treat that can’t be missed.
Have you ever tried eating fried dumplings? Well, if not, this is for you. Paniyaram is a dumpling street food in Malaysia that is not steamed, but deep fried.
Although this is an Indian dish, this is widely sold as a street food in Malaysia. It is a savory nutritious snack filled with protein. Paniyaram is a low-calorie dish, high in fiber and low in fat.
Kuih Bingka Ubi (Baked Cassava/Tapioca Cake)
Are you looking for gluten-free Malaysian street food? If so, this is one dish to try!
Kuih Bigna Ubi is also known as baked cassava or tapioca cake. It is a Malaysian street food that originated from the Nyonya cuisine. Made with grated cassava and coconut mixture, it is immensely fragrant and moist.
This jiggly cake has a not-too-sweet, earthy, milky, and nutty flavor and a nice texture that pairs perfectly with a hot cup of tea.
Ngunya Pulut Ini
This traditional Malaysian food is surprisingly tiny. You can see Ngunya Pulut Ini in the streets wrapped in banana leaves. This delicious street food in Malaysia consists of steamed sticky rice garnished with coconut toppings.
Ngunya Pulut Ink is very aromatic yet minimalistic. It is an excellent simple snack to savor in the streets.
Exploring The Diverse Street Food In Malaysia
The street food scene is undoubtedly one of the most exciting facts about Malaysia for every traveler. They are not just cheap and convenient, the wide range of dishes reflect the diversity in the cultural fabric of the country. From heart-warming soup and noodle dishes to bite-sized snacks, there is plenty to sample and savor.
You can just get a refreshment while visiting the famous Malaysian landmarks, or totally fill up your stomach just on the streets of Malaysia. Many even consider this to be the main food scene since it is so localized. Be sure to spend some time plying the street food markets in the different cities when you visit.