Food and drink

Malaysians, like neighbouring Singaporeans, love their food and the dishes of the three main communities, Malay, Chinese and Indian, comprise a hugely varied national menu Even within each ethnic cuisine, there is a vast choice; every state has its own special Malay dishes and the different Chinese provincial specialities are well represented in addition there is North Indian food, South Indian food and Indian Muslim food. Nyonya cuisine is found in the old Straits Settlements of Penang and Melaka. Malaysia also great seafood, which the Chinese do best, and in recent years a profusion of restaurant representing other Asian and European cuisines, have set up, mainly in the big cities in the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, there are tribal specialities.

As in Singapore, good food is not confined to restaurants; some of the best local dishes can be sampled at hawker centres, which are cheap and often stay open late Into the night. Hotels regularly lay on buffet spreads, which are good value at about RM20-30, often much cheaper than the price of a room would suggest. NB many restaurants charge an extra 15% service and tax.

With a large ethnic Indian population, vegetarian food is usually available, especially on the Peninsula. In East Malaysia it can be harder to find vegetarian alternatives. There are also numerous Chinese and Malay vegetarian dishes although is not unusual to find slivers of meat even when a vegetable dish is specifically requested In tourist areas and more cosmopolitan towns vegetarian restaurants are becoming popular.

The best Malay food is usually found at stalls in hawker centres. The staple diet is rice and curry, which is rich and creamy due to the use of coconut milk Herbs and spices include chillis, ginger, turmeric, coriander, lemongrass, anise, doves, cumin, caraway cinnamon.

Rice dishes nasi campur - Malay curry buffet of rice served with meat, fish, vegetables and fruit.
Nasi goreng- rice, meat and vegetables fried with garlic, onions and sambal.
Nasi lemak- a breakfast dish of rice cooked in coconut milk and served with prawn
Sambal ikan bilis, a hard boiled egg, peanuts and cucumber.
Nasi padang-plain rice served with a selection or dishes.
Nasi puteh- plain boiled rice.
Nasi gudeg-popular on the east coast for breakfast; glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk and served with fish curry, cucumber pickle and sambal.

soup soto ayam - popular for breakfast in Johor and Sarawak, a spicy chicken soup served with rice cubes, chicken and vegetables.
Lontong-popular in the south, particularly for breakfast. Cubed compressed rice served mixed vegetables in coconut milk. Sambal is the accompaniment.

Meat satay - chicken, beef or mutton marinated and skewered on a bamboo barbecued, aver a brazier. Usually served with ketupat.

Noodles kway teow-flat noodles fried with seafood, egg, soysauce, beansprouts (chives).
Laksa johor-noodles in fish curry sauce and raw vegetables.
Mee goring-fried noodles.
Mee jawa-noodles in gravy, served with prawn fritters, potatoes, tofu and beancurd.
Mee rebus-noodles with beef, chicken or prawn with soybean in spicy sauce.

Curries rendang-dry beef curry (a Sumatran dish).
Longong-vegetable curry made from rice cakes cooked in coconut, beans, cabbage and bamboo shoots.

Salad rojak-Malaysia's answer to Indonesia's gadogado-mixed vegetable salad served in peanut sauce with ketupat.

Vegetables sayur manis-sweet vegetables; vegetables tried with chilli, belacan and mushroom

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