I have been absolutely terrible about sharing our foodie adventures, which is actually a huge part of our travels! Mitch and I put in a lot of research regarding what dishes we should try and where we should try them. We’ve had so much amazing food that it’s hard to pick a favorite; however, I could not write about Malaysia without dedicating an entire post to its fabulous food culture.
Malaysia is home to a large Chinese, Malay, and Indian population, and the food boasts flavors from all three cultures, making Malaysia a huge foodie scene. In fact, Malaysia and Singapore both have huge foodie cultures with similar demographics and therefore similar dishes, and there is a bit of a rivalry between the two countries as to who makes the better version of each dish. Not only that, in both countries, the people are known to get into heated debates regarding where one can find the best version of each dish. If you check out some Malaysian food or Singapore food blogs, the discussions occurring about each dish are hilarious and very intense. More on Singapore later, but for now, here’s a list of our favorite dishes from George Town (in no particular order)!
1. Nasi Kandar
“Nasi” in Malay means “fried.” Nasi Kandar is a famous Indian dish consisting of very simple fried rice topped with mouth-wateringly seasoned chicken and a variety of sides. We first tried it at the famous Line Clear Nasi Kandar.
I have potentially unhealthy love affair with toast, and I was so excited that one of the recommended breakfast spots in George Town featured toast, which turns out to be “a thing” in both Malaysia and Singapore. Toh Soon Cafe — a small little shop down a side alley — offers toast slathered in butter, peanut butter, or kaya butter (coconut type spread). You can also order some poached eggs (very softly poached) and their amazingly delicious kopi, or coffee. Each table also has a small basket of small, brown paper wrapped packages containing a small helping of nasi lemak (fried rice with tomato and anchovies). Everything at Toh Soon Cafe is delicious.
3. Roti Canai
One evening before heading to the Penang Philharmonic’s Film Scores night, Mitch and I stopped in Little India to wander the streets and taste the renowned roti canai, Indian flatbread eaten with different curry dips. We had some amazingly delicious and authentic chai along with our roti canai. I couldn’t get over how tasty the chai was, and then I couldn’t sleep all night after having it at around 6 pm!
4. Hokkien Mee
Hokkien mee, also known as prawn mee, is a prawn based soup broth with egg AND rice noodles (noodle fans rejoice!), shrimp, pork, squid, vegetables, and lime. It’s an explosion of flavor and one of my favorite dishes we enjoyed.
5. Wonton Mi
Okay, so many this photo isn’t the best (it was taken at night under terrible lighting), but the dish itself is fantastic! We found a very busy street vendor and settled in for our first Malaysian meal. Wonton Mi is a delicious bowl of egg noodles, wontons, barbecued pork, and vegetables in a savory salty sauce — yum!
6. Mi Goreng
Fried egg noodles with tomato-ish sauce, egg, octopus or squid, and some root vegetables. The best mi goreng is known for having a very smoky flavor, created from years of using the same wok without washing. This was one of my favorite dishes in George Town.
7. “Fish” Ball Kuay Teow
This light soup is a breakfast dish in Malaysia, consisting of a mild but very delicious broth with rice noodles, and small amount of sliced meat, and fish balls. What made this restaurant special, though, was that they used eel to make their fish balls, and WOW, it was phenomenal. The fish balls were so light and delicate, they almost melt in your mouth. This specific, well-known restaurant is just called “Fish Ball Kuay/Kway Teow.”
We tried so many more dishes assam laksa, seafood popiah, cendol, curry mi, Hainanese chicken, and more, but those were our favorites from Malaysia! More food updates when I post about Singapore!