Malaysia Country Guide



Where to Eat

The cheapest places to eat are hawker stalls and coffee shops, known as kedai kopi in Malay or kopitiam in Chinese. These shops sell, besides coffee, many other types of food and drinks. Particularly popular and tasty are mamak stalls and coffee shops, run by Indian Muslims and serving up localized Indian fare like roti canai. Most hawker stalls stay open till late and some even operate on shifts so you can find the same stall offering different food at different points throughout the day. You can also do take away from any stall, just ask for 'bungkus' (Malay) or 'ta pao' (Chinese).

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Malaysian Indian restaurant in Penang

Malaysian Indian restaurant in Penang

A hawker meal will rarely cost you over MYR5. Hygiene standards in Malaysia, while not up to that of neighbouring Singapore or Western countries, is still reasonable and much better than say, China or most of the rest of Southeast Asia. Just be observant, and generally speaking, if a stall is patronized by locals, it should be safe to eat there.

Street food

Street food from a hawker

One step up on the scale is the 'kedai makanan' or the more Western-style restoraunts. A type to look out for is the nasi kandar restaurant (also known as nasi campur or nasi padang), with a vast range of curries and toppings to ladle on top of your rice. Seafood restaurants are comparatively pricy but still offer excellent value by most standards but check the prices before ordering. Local prawns are gigantic, Chinese-style steamed fish is a treat and crab served with sticky chilli sauce is particularly popular.

Last but not least, there are some less adventurous options. Food courts in shopping malls are a good way to sample local delicacies in air-conditioned comfort, paying only a small premium over hawker prices. While food courts generally serve Malaysian dishes, there would generally be one to three stalls serving western dishes. You can also find the western-style fast foods invading the cities and towns across Malaysia like McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut and their imitators.

Food court at KL Sentral

Food court at KL Sentral

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