Malaysia Country Guide



Malaysia is the crossroads of Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine. Look out for regional specialties and Nyonya (Peranakan) cuisine, the fusion between Malay and Chinese cooking. There is even unique Eurasian cooking to be found in the Portuguese Settlement in Melaka, the heartland of the Eurasian community of Portuguese descent. Each region of Malaysia have their own delicious specialties such as Penang char kway teow (noodle dish), Kajang satay (skewed meat), Ipoh bean sprout chicken, Sarawak "laksa" (noodle dish) and Kelantanese "nasi dagang" (rice dish) and many, many more.

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If you intend to travel around Malaysia trying out the local food, don't be fooled by the names. Sometimes two entirely different dishes from different parts of the country can be known by the same name. An example will be "laksa", which refers to completely different noodle dishes in Penang, Johor and Sarawak. Eating habits run the gamut, but most foods are eaten by fork and spoon: push and cut with the fork in the left hand, and eat with the spoon in the right.

Malaysian food court
Food court in Malaysia

As eating is a favourite past time of Malaysians, the majority are adept at using the chopsticks regardless of race. Noodles and Chinese dishes typically come with these, while Malay and Indian food can be eaten by hand, but nobody will blink an eye if you ask for a fork and spoon instead. If eating in a group, serving dishes are always shared, but you'll get your own bowl of rice and soup.

Street food in Penang

Indian street food in Penang

If eating by hand, always use your right hand to pick your food as Malays and Indians traditionally use their left hand for dirty things like washing up after using the restroom. When eating with chopsticks at Chinese restaurants, take note of the usual etiquette and most importantly, do not stick your chopsticks vertically into a bowl of rice. This is reminiscent of incense sticks burning at the temple and has connotations of wishing death on those around you.
Indian muslim restaurant
At an Indian Muslim restaurant
Country Guide
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