The way to a Malaysian’s heart is through our stomachs
C’mon, don’t even try to deny it! Makan time is easily one of the top 5 things that we Malaysians keep close to our hearts and hey, who could blame us? With delicious food all across the country, it’s hard to put down our spoons and forks.
If you’re up for a food adventure (and we know you are), make sure to feast on these iconic dishes from each state! Psst, make sure you read till the end to see how you can enjoy great savings off your makan hunt!
1. Perlis – Ikan Bakar
Photo Credit: dansontheroad.com
Perlis, the smallest and most northern state in Peninsular Malaysia, is a common stopover point for those heading to Langkawi or Hat Yai in Thailand. With close ties to Thailand, don’t be surprised to find many dishes that are popular on the other side of the border too.
The most iconic food in Perlis, however, would have to be ikan bakar. Especially in Kuala Perlis, you can easily find stalls and restaurants with charcoal-grilled fish as well as other dishes. It’s been said that the best place to get ikan bakar in Perlis is at Medan Ikan Bakar!
2. Kedah – Gulai Nangka
While nasi berlauk (Malay style mixed rice) is plenty all across Kedah, the one dish you should look out for is the gulai nangka. This creamy, yellow curry dish features unripe jackfruit cooked with turmeric, galangal, ginger, chilli paste, coconut milk and many other spices. This dish pairs the best with a plate of warm rice. Once you’ve tasted it, you’ll want to start eating all your fruits in a curry!
3. Kelantan – Nasi Kerabu
A distinct dish from the vivid blue of the rice, nasi kerabu was once a simple food amongst villagers in the East Coast. Also a favourite for urbanites now, nasi kerabu is made up of several components – blue rice, raw salad (kerabu), sambal, protein (egg and chicken/beef/fish), fish crackers. While it may look complicated, the best way to enjoy the dish it to mix the rice with the salad and sambal!
4. Penang – Char Kuey Teow
Dubbed as the food capital of Malaysia, it’s hard to pick just one signature dish from Penang. But of course, the crown would have to go to char kuey teow. A dish so popular, it has spawned a myriad of recreations outside of the Penang and even Malaysia! Flat rice noodles stir-fried with chilli paste, prawns, egg, cockles, bean sprouts, and garlic chives, who knew something so simple can be so delicious.
5. Terengganu – Satar
With its close proximity to the sea, you can count on Terengganu for plenty of seafood dish. A very popular snack you can find is satar. Deboned and mashed fish are mixed with desiccated coconut and a selection of herbs and spices, then wrapped into a cone shape in a banana leaf. Each cone is then skewered and charcoal-grilled, resulting in a spicy, fragrant, and smoky fish snack!
6. Selangor – Satay / Sate
While Selangor may be home to all sorts of cuisine from different corners of the world, something that locals hold near and dear to their hearts are their satay! Thanks to the stellar reputation of the satay from Kajang, it’s also a must-try dish whenever you’re in Selangor.
While Kajang, a town 20km away from the KL city centre, may be too far for travellers and even locals, you can find branches of the original Sate Kajang Hj. Samuri in many parts of Selangor and KL!
7. Sabah – Tuaran Mee
Arguably the most well-known noodle dish in Sabah is tuaran mee. The key to a good bowl oftuaran mee is the special yellow egg noodles that are fried before being topped with the dish’s signature sauce and ingredients. The common toppings that you’ll find are barbecued meat, egg rolls and green vegetables.
8. Sarawak – Sarawak Laksa
With a laksa dish named after the state, you can bet Sarawakians are pretty darn proud of this dish. The distinctive taste of curry paste used to make the Sarawak laksa is what makes it so special. The rice noodles are drenched in the flavourful broth then topped with omelette strips, chicken, prawns and fresh vegetables. In fact, Sarawak laksa is so good that it made it onto Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations show!
9. Perak – Ipoh Hor Fun
We all certainly have Ipoh to thank for putting Perak on the food map with its dizzying array of local street finds. Who knew that this small town would dominate the food scene, attracting visitors from everywhere just to go on a food trail.
The simple yet addictive Ipoh hor fun is a culinary wonder. Every aspect of the dish is prepared with care, from the rice noodles made using local spring water to the broth meticulously simmered for hours. Using the freshest ingredients, the result is a bowl of noodles you’ll happily return to Ipoh for.
10. Pahang – Gulai Tempoyak Ikan Patin
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
A dish synonymous to Pahang, the gulai tempoyak ikan patin makes use of two local staples –ikan patin and durian. The state is abundant with ikan patin (silver catfish) from the longest river in Peninsula Malaysia flowing through it, as well as durian from the many orchards in Pahang.
Flesh from the durians are fermented into a paste called tempoyak. They’re then added into a curry dish with the ikan patin, turmeric, galangal, garlic, ginger and other spices. Pairs perfectly with white rice, it’s savoury, slighty spicy and fragrant.
11. Negeri Sembilan – Siew Pau
This iconic pastry from Seremban, the capital of Negeri Sembilan, may look unassuming but it certainly packs a punch. With a crumbly exterior, you’ll bite into the most succulent and flavourful meat filing. Traditionally made with pork, peas and other ingredients, you can now find different fillings like chicken and mushroom. Light yet savoury, it’s easy to gobble down a dozen of these siew pau in one sitting!
12. Johor – Otak-Otak
If you ever make your way to Johor, you gotta drop by Muar for arguably the best otak-otak you’ll ever have! Sumptuous fish and/or other seafood mixed with all sorts of spices, stuffed into coconut leaves and grilled over hot coals, you can eat them ask snacks or accompaniments for your main meal.
13. Melaka – Chicken Rice Balls
Usually, the star of the dish in chicken rice is the chicken itself but the same can’t be said for Melaka! What makes this dish so iconic in Melaka is the rice balls you get instead of your typical plate of rice. These aren’t just fun to eat but taste pretty darn good as well. Although you can easily find chicken rice balls everywhere in Melaka, apparently Kedai Kopi Chung Wah, Hoe Kee and Ee Ji Ban are some of the best.
Make the most of your Merdeka weekend!
Have you tried all of the dishes above? If you haven’t, it’s time to go on a lil trip around the country for a good adventure! Celebrate Merdeka and Hari Malaysia the way we Malaysians know best – eating all the yummy food! Can’t be bothered to drive? Easy peasy, Klook an intercity transfer to save you the hassle of driving. Make sure to use “EXTRA31OFF” for a special discount on all Klook activities until 16 September 2018!