Eat & Drink

5 Eats Every Traveller Must Try On A Trip to Malaysia

They're the heart and soul of the local cuisine.

Kuala Lumpur may be home to some of the world’s most impressive restaurants, but the traditional street vendors are the heart and soul of cuisine in Malaysia.

Fusing Malaysian, Chinese and Indian flavours, the mouth-watering cheap bites dished up around the city will keep your wallet — and your stomach — full! Here are five to try.

#1 Roti Canai

Roti canai from Malaysia

A simple, Indian-inspired flat bread made of flour, butter and water, roti canai is a staple in Malaysian cuisine. Layer upon layer of fluffy, chewy dough inside a flaky, crispy exterior, it’s extremely moreish.

Best dipped in a curry sauce, roti canai is not the sort of dish that you pick up and eat on the run, so take a seat, grab a teh tarik (pulled tea with condensed milk) and tuck in.

Expect to pay somewhere between $0.40 and $1.50 (RM1.20 – RM4.50) per serve.

Where: Valentine Roti, No. 1, Jalan Semarak, 54000, City Centre, Kuala Lumpur


#2 Apam Balik

Most pancakes are flat, circular in shape and come topped with berries and maple syrup. Not apam balik. These half-moon-shaped griddle pancakes are thick, fluffy and stuffed with a combination of sweet and savoury fillings.

Made from a yeasted batter, the turn-over pancakes are traditionally filled with sweet corn, crushed peanuts and sugar. If you’re feeling really adventurous, some stalls even offer apam balik filled with durian or a combination of chocolate and cheese. Yes, chocolate and cheese!

If you want to pick one up for dessert, go easy at the dinner as they are quite the substantial treat. At $1.45 to $3.70 (RM4.50 to RM11.50) a pop, you get a whole lot of bang for your buck.

Where: Apam Balik Nusantara, Jalan Raja Alang (before HR Steakhouse), Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur


#3 Murtabak

If you’re on the hunt for more stuffed delicacies, be sure to keep an eye out for murtabak. Packed full of minced meat and onions, it can be eaten on its own or dipped in to a fragrant, spicy sauce.

This indulgent, hearty dish is more readily found around the end of Ramadan, but it’s still easy to come by year-round in stores and at carts.

Priced between $0.65 to $3.25 (RM2.00 to RM10.00), murtabak makes the perfect cheap meal.

Where: Mat Murtabak, Jln Kerdas 4, 53100, Gombak, Kuala Lumpur


#4 Ais Kacang

Ais Kacang from Malaysia

Escape the sticky midday Malaysian heat with a bowl of sweet ais kacang (literally translated as “bean ice”).

An evolution of the humble summer treat, ais kacang is the freakshake of the shaved ice world. It’s traditionally served topped with red beans, creamed corn, rose syrup and condensed milk; you can also find different coloured jellies, cendol and palm sugar buried underneath.

If the traditional style of ais kacang sounds a little too overwhelming, you can also find stalls selling it with more novelty toppings such as fruit, chocolate sauce and ice-cream.

A bowl of ais kacang will set you back around $1.50 (RM3.80 to RM4.50)

Where: Ah Keong’s Ais Kacang Stall, Jalan Padang Belia, 50470, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur (in front of 7-Eleven, opposite the YMCA)


#5 Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak from Malaysia

As the unofficial dish of Malaysia, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t eat this delicious yet simple meal on the reg.

A breakfast dish comprised of coconut rice with sides, nasi lemak looks unassuming on the plate, but the combination of flavours is mouth-wateringly good. The fragrant rice soaks up the rich sambal and rendang sauces, while the peanuts, cucumber and fried anchovies give texture and crunch.

Although traditionally eaten at breakfast, the dish is now so popular that you can find it at any number of carts and stores at any time of the day.

Expect to pay somewhere between $0.65 and $3.20 for a serve (RM2.00 to RM10.00)

Where: Nasi Lemak Tanglin, Gerai No. 6, Kompleks Makan Tanglin, Jalan Cendrasari, 50480, Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur

(All images: Tourism Malaysia)