Malaysia Food Guide 2022: Penang, Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur and Melaka

A Foodie’s Guide to Malaysia: Where and What to Eat in Penang, Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, and Melaka

We hope you’re hungry!

Malaysia’s culture is not like others — being a multicultural society, you’re always going to be surrounded by so many sensory experiences. As Malaysia’s main ethnic groups consist of the Malays, the Chinese, and the Indians, you’d get to hear different languages and dialects being spoken all at once. The same goes for Malaysian food. Historically, Malay, Chinese, and Indian cuisines have been rich on their own, but when you mix them together, it creates a unique, colourful explosion on your taste buds. 

The gastronomic experiences revolving around Malaysia’s food have always been a reason for people’s travels. Dishes range from sweet, spicy, savoury, and everything in between. With that being said, many end up not knowing what to eat in Malaysia. But what if we proposed to you a Malaysia food trip? We’ll be recommending what you can eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as street snacks and desserts in each location. There will be cafes and restaurants, but we’ve also included several street stalls. 

When that sounds like the perfect kind of trip, here’s a foodie-certified guide to eating in Melaka, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, and Penang in Malaysia. We hope your belly’s empty for this! 

Also read: What to Eat in Malaysia: 15 Malaysian Food Staples For First-Time Visitors

Places to eat in Malaysia:

Melaka

Morning: One Dollar Shop, Siang Ge Mee Hoon Kueh, Limbongan Hailam Kopitiam

Afternoon: Mee Goreng Hassan Tengkera, Chung Wah Chicken Rice Ball, Makko Nyonya Restaurant, Cendol Kampung Hulu, Asam Pedas Pak Man

Night: Pak Putra Tandoori, Longkang Siham, Jonker Street Market, The Daily Fix 

Kuala Lumpur

Morning: Imbi Market at ICC Pudu, Bunn Choon Egg Tarts, Imbi Kuih Bakul, Sisters Crispy Popiah, Kafei Dian 

Afternoon: Yut Kee, Merchant’s Lane, Kin Kin

Night: Alor Street, Hakka Restaurant

Ipoh

Morning: Kedia Kopi Sin Yoon Loong, Nam Heong White Coffee, Greentown Dim Sum Café, Kedai Biskut Sin Eng Heong

Afternoon: Restoran Thean Chun, Paris Restaurant Hakka Mee, Cowan Street Ayam Tauge & Koitiau, Aun Kheng Lim Salted Chicken, Concubine Lane, Funny Mountain Tau Fu Fah, Hong Kee Mah Chee

Night: Dai Shu Geok, Kedai Kopi Yee Fatt, Tong Sui Kai 

Penang

Morning: Gemas Road Roti Canai, Joo Leong Cafe, Tai Tong Restaurant, Ali Nasi Lemak, Continental Bakery

Afternoon: 113 Duck Meat Koay Teow Soup, Wen Chiang Hainan Chicken Rice, Hot Bowl White Curry Mee, Air Itam Laksa, Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul, Tony’s Ais Kacang 

Night: Kebaya at Seven Terraces, Spade’s Burgers, Siam Road Char Koay Teow, Mat Toh Yau Dessert & Food

So let the food search begin!

Melaka 

places to eat in malaysia

Image credit: Aleksandra Khoroshykh

When you want a taste of Malaysian heritage, Melaka is one of the places to be! Melaka has so many things to explore, including historical buildings and places to eat. We recommend Jonker Street to grab a bite, as there are various restaurants and aesthetically pleasing cafes to check out. 

Morning

In Melaka, breakfast is cheap and simple. Grab a bite of fried bee hoon and toast for RM1/$0.32 each at Pandan Malim’s One Dollar Shop. If not, you can stop by any nearby kopitiam for a bite. Malaysian kopitiams are our solution when you don’t know what to eat in Malaysia. At Limbongan Hailam Kopitiam, they offer cheap and comforting food. Here, you can dip your kaya toast into a cup of Hainanese black coffee. At Siang Ge Mee Hoon Kueh, you can try your first bowl of mee hoon kueh (hand-torn noodles) and you can have it dry or in a soup. 

Afternoon

When the afternoon rolls around, go to Mee Goreng Hassan Tengkera for a plate of mee bodo. This is a place where you can get Melaka food like no other. It’s yellow noodles stir-fried with bean sprouts and homemade sambal. Despite its simplicity, the locals love it and so will you! Chicken rice balls are another Melakan delicacy you should try. Instead of the quintessential chicken rice, you eat the chicken with rice balls. In Melaka, you can order yourself chicken rice balls relatively anywhere, including Chung Wah Chicken Rice Ball

Nyonya cuisine in Melaka is the other thing you have to try at least once in our Malaysian food trip. As such, you have to go to Makko Nyonya Restaurant as they arguably serve the best Nyonya food in town! If you want to try asam pedas (another Nyonya dish), go to Asam Pedas Pak Man. They have fish and stingray cooked in a sour and spicy gravy, and it’s just dang good. 

melaka food

Image credit: Faizal Ismail

Now let’s talk about dessert. Cendol is a shaved ice dessert that has coconut milk, gula melaka, red beans, and pandan jelly droplets. Gula melaka is palm sugar and if you haven’t noticed, it’s found almost everywhere in Melaka food. If you want the simple, traditional version of cendol, go to Aunty Koh’s Cendol. If you want something unconventional, Kampung Hulu Cendol tops the dessert with unique toppings like a scoop of ice cream or durian. 

Image credit: Andy Tham

Also read: Top 10 Things to Do in Melaka for a Complete Experience

Putu piring is another Melaka food that doubles as a unique aftermeal treat! It’s basically steamed rice flour filled with shaved coconut and gula melaka. At Tengkera Putu Piring, this delicacy is made fresh and hot, and it’s really fun to snack on.

what to eat in malaysia

Image credit: Eliza Poa

Night

End the day with Malaysian-Indian food. If cheese naan and tandoori chicken sounds heavenly right now, go over to Pak Putra Tandoori. The naan is soft and fluffy and has so much cheese! On the other hand, the richly-marinated chicken will make you see the gates of heaven.  

what to eat in malaysia

Image credit: Alvin Tan

But in case you don’t want cheese naan and tandoori, what about seafood? Longkang Siham has some of the freshest shellfish in town, and you can dip them in a special sauce that has lime and crushed peanuts. Once you’re done, take a walk through Jonker Street: a major landmark in any Malaysia food trip. There are countless stalls and street food options to try. When you’re there, find the Melaka-style sticky rice dumplings, known as Nyonya chang

Also read: 72 Hours in Melaka: Where to Stay and What to Do

The late-night experience is nothing if you don’t go on a dessert run! The Daily Fix forms part of Melaka’s ever-present portfolio of aesthetically pleasing cafes. It’s located behind a souvenir shop. The ambience is everything, and you get to dine in a vintage-style shophouse. Technically, you can come here during lunch and brunch for their pasta and other brunch-friendly foods but their pandan pancakes are iconic. 

Image credit: Connie Simple Life

Kuala Lumpur

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Welcome to the city of Kuala Lumpur! Malaysia’s primary tourist attractions are here, including the KL Tower and Petronas Twin Towers. While Kuala Lumpur is pretty famous for its shopping scene, the food’s just as great here. Come on, let’s take you on a food hunt through the city. 

Morning

Imbi Market at ICC Pudu is the first of many important food spots in our Malaysia food trip. There’s so much KL food to see and eat here, so if you get overwhelmed, we don’t blame you. e recommend Ah Fook Chee Cheong Fun, which has the best of both worlds: chee cheong fun and yong tau foo. On the other hand, you can try nasi lemak which has pork skin curry at Ann’s Nasi Lemak

ICC Pudu also has other notable stalls, like Feng Yang Wantan Noodles (wantan mee), Ah Weng Koh Hainan Tea (kaya toast and Hainanese coffee), and Imbi Pasar Mee Halia (ginger noodles). In the same location, we need to get you on one of the most heavenly items on our Malaysia food trip! Bunn Choon Restaurant’s egg tarts are to die for — the egg custard is silky, and the crust is so flaky it melts in your mouth. We’re not kidding. 

Okay, wait! We’ve got one more thing to try. Popiah is a spring roll stuffed with vegetables. You may find them fried as a street snack, but at Sisters Crispy Popiah, they are not fried. The egg roll skin is filled with stir-fried turnips, a sweet sauce, crispy egg floss, cucumber, and crunchy bits. Each bite is refreshing and light, but it’s not the type of snack you can eat while walking.

Now, let us take you to a different stall for kuih bakul. Last one, we promise. Imagine this: a sweet sticky rice cake, yam, and sweet potato, all fried into one delectable snack. Once fried, the rice cake is completely gooey and divine. This is exactly why Imbi Market is going into our 2022 Malaysian food guide. 

2022 malaysia food guide

Image credit (L-R): Lewyee Ng; 🉐 愛得日常

Also read: Top 10 Breakfast Spots in Kuala Lumpur

But if you want to dine in somewhere more aesthetically pleasing, Kafei Dian is the place to be! You can order the standard toast and eggs, but there’s also dim sum, soup noodles, and nasi lemak

Afternoon

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Have you heard of Hainanese chicken chop? It’s basically fried chicken thigh served with gravy and a side of french fries. It’s certainly a KL food you must try. What makes it distinct is that the gravy has the frozen vegetable mix you’d get at the supermarket. At Yut Kee, you can try Hainanese chicken chop, although their variation uses pork. Speaking of which, how do you feel about roasted pork and applesauce? Yut Kee has that too!

In Kuala Lumpur, you might notice a myriad of aesthetically pleasing, Instagram-worthy cafes in the city. Merchant’s Lane is one of them, and its reputation makes it perfect for our 2022 Malaysian food guide. It’s located in Petaling Street, and many often come here during brunch and breakfast. You can try their South China Sea (grilled salmon with poached eggs and hash), or their Italian Chow Mien (fried pasta). 

Dry chilli pan mee is an addicting noodle dish you have to have at least once in Malaysia. In one bowl, you get chewy noodles, minced pork, a poached egg, fried onions, and fried anchovies. To top it all off, add a spoonful of dried chillies before mixing everything. If that sounds like the perfect meal for you, give Kin Kin a try. Dry chilli pan mee is their signature dish, and once you’re finished, you might consider asking for a second bowl. 

Stumbling across roadside stalls in Malaysia and buying the fried foods are the ultimate street food experience. As such, you have to come to Brickfields to try Uncle Chiam’s pisang goreng. For more than 30 years, the roadside stall of Brickfields Goreng Pisang has sold fried king banana fritters, alongside kuih bakul and fried sesame balls. The bananas are fried upon order, but be warned! They sell out really fast. 

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Night

Alor Street is a foodie’s haven in Bukit Bintang, KL. Whatever you want in terms of KL food, you might be able to find it here. The night market is a whole other sensory experience because there’s so much going on. There’s smoke in the air, there are tourists everywhere, and soon enough, you will salivate over the food you see. Look for the grilled satay skewers, and the lok-lok trucks as you explore the whole night market. Don’t miss out on the grilled chicken wings and oyster omelettes too!

Also read: The Ultimate 6-Day Singapore-Malaysia Itinerary For First-Timers

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But if you want a more established place to end your day, Hakka Restaurant is a two-minute walk from Pavilion mall in Bukit Bintang and is a more upgraded eatery. They specialise in delicious Hakka, but there’s also an extensive menu of Chinese dishes. We recommend the Hakka noodles, stir-fried kangkung with belacan, crispy tilapia with a Thai-style sauce, and steamed cod.

Ipoh

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Ipoh, Perak has been known to have some of the best dishes and delicacies in Malaysia. Some people may even drive up to the town just to eat, or go food hunting. There’s always so much to eat there, and so much food to bring back home. 

Also read: 12 Fun Things to Do in Ipoh, Malaysia on Your First Trip

Morning

ipoh food

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Ipoh white coffee is something out of this world. If we said it was good, it would be an understatement. Kedai Kopi Sin Yoon Loong is an addition to our list of Ipoh food to try because it’s the birthplace of Ipoh white coffee. Besides the coffee, you can order roti bakar (toast with kaya and butter), roti goyang (toast with soft-boiled eggs), and chee cheong fun

Likewise, Nam Heong White Coffee is also another great Ipoh white coffee spot but unlike the former (Sin Yoon Loong) they’ve gone commercial. You can find Nam Heong White Coffee pretty easily in Kuala Lumpur. At Nam Heong, there’s so much you can try! Order their baked char siew bao, and the egg tarts are pretty good as well! 

But if you want dim sum for breakfast, Greentown Dim Sum Café is definitely worth a visit when you want dim sum for breakfast. It’s halal, and exactly what you need on your Malaysian food trip. Everything is freshly made upon order, and you can order a wide variety of dim sum. This should easily solve your dilemma when it comes to figuring out what to eat in Malaysia. 

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Once you’re stuffed and happy with dim sum in your belly, visit one of the oldest biscuit shops in Ipoh — Kedai Biskut Sin Eng Heong. They make possibly the best kaya puffs (kaya kok, as referred to by locals) that are made fresh daily. The pastry crust is flaky, and inside, the kaya filling is faultless. Besides kaya kok, you can buy their peanut candy, baked siew bao, sesame balls, and tau sa piah (mung bean paste biscuit). You can take home some of the best Ipoh food before you leave. 

Afternoon

Ipoh kai se hor fun is one of many local delicacies you have to try in our Malaysia food guide. It has rice noodles in a warm broth, topped with fresh prawns and shredded chicken. One bowl of it is guaranteed to ensure a hearty, comforting meal while you’re in town. Restoran Thean Chun is a tourist-friendly restaurant if you want to look for Ipoh kai se hor fun. The broth is rich, and the noodles are soft. Delicious!

2022 malaysia food guide

Image credit: KY

If you’ve got room for dessert, order a plate of their egg caramel custard. The pudding is so soft and delicate that it practically melts in your mouth. The caramel sauce is just the perfect kind of the cherry on top, and the dessert is not too sweet either. 

Also read: Top 19 Iconic Ipoh Food You Have to Try on Your First Visit

On the other hand, hakka mee should also be next on what to eat in Malaysia, let alone in Ipoh. The springy noodles are topped with minced meat and sliced shallots. At Paris Restaurant Hakka Mee, you can eat it with a side of assorted yong tau foo. We recommend the meatballs, fried foo chuk (beancurd skin), and stuffed tofu. 

Unlike Kuala Lumpur and Melaka’s chicken rice dishes, the one in Ipoh is often enjoyed with a generous side of bean sprouts. Oftentimes, you can switch out your plate of rice for a bowl of kuey teow soup. But at Cowan Street Ayam Tauge & Koitiau, you can eat your sliced chicken with a bowl of rice noodles in a soup. Enjoy your meal with crunchy bean sprouts and it’s the perfect lunch. 

Now here’s something you should take home. Ipoh is famous for its salted chicken, which is pretty self-explanatory. It’s whole chicken baked in salt. Aun Kheng Lim Salted Chicken is one of the tourist-friendly spots in town. Their marinade has rice wine and various herbs, which make the salted chicken flavour even more complex. 

When you’re in the mood to nibble on something while you continue your Ipoh tour, go to Concubine Lane in Ipoh. Though it’s conveniently located near many restaurants, you can get your street food cravings fixed here. Look for the rainbow grilled cheese sandwich at Kuma Rainbow Cheese Toast and bird’s nest tau fu fah at Concubine Lane Tau Fu Fa. When it gets too hot, get a flavoured ice ball on a stick from Honey Ice Ball

Regardless of where you are in Malaysia, one thing you can find is tau fu fah (soybean pudding). It’s silky, soft, and sweet. Ipoh’s Funny Mountain tau fu fah is one of the best in town, which makes sense as to why we’ve included it in our list of Ipoh food to try. You can grab yourself a bowl and eat it on the street, or better yet: order it and eat it in the car, drive-thru style. 

Besides tau fu fah, muah chee is a popular Malaysian street food that consists of glutinous rice covered in peanuts. It’s similar to Japanese mochi, and if you love mochi, then muah chee should be covered on your Malaysia food trip. If you’ve tried and loved muah chee in KL, then come to Hong Kee Mah Chee in Ipoh. They also serve fresh fah sang wu (creamy peanut soup) so you can get a bowl and top it with the muah chee. Some may even opt to dip the individual muah chee into their fah sang wu!  

2022 malaysia food guide

Image credit: Ken Hunts Food

Night

To sum it up, yong tau foo is a local delicacy that consists of various vegetables and tofu stuffed with meat or fish paste. You can mix and match your yong tau foo, and with the variety of pieces, it easily settles what to eat in Malaysia. If that interests you, Dai Shu Geok has one of the best yong tau foo in Ipoh. Our 2022 Malaysian food guide recommends eating this with a hearty bowl of curry noodles (also found at Kedai Kopi Yee Fatt), but you can also get their Assam laksa.

2022 malaysia food guide

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When the bowl of curry mee hasn’t left you in a food coma yet, go on a late-night dessert adventure. Tong Sui Kai in Ipoh has a whole street of stalls selling different kinds of desserts, like the Aiyu Jelly dessert and Hong Kong-style desserts (e.g., Hong Kong Sago Lolo). Many also come for their mixed fruit ais kacang. End your Malaysia food trip here with a bowl of shaved ice and fresh fruit. 

Penang

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So we’ve finally reached the last stop of our food itinerary in the north. Penang has always been known for its lively food scene among tourists, and many can’t seem to get enough. The flavours are more passionate; more intense, and there’s so much to go over! Let’s get started, shall we?

Also read: 25 Best Things to Eat in Penang, Malaysia

Morning

Roti canai in Malaysia is the ultimate breakfast option. Tear a piece off a flaky, buttery flatbread and dip it in a curry. At Gemas Road Roti Canai, their version of roti is elevated with onions and a sunny side up. What a way to start your day with our 2022 Malaysian food guide in Penang!

2022 malaysia food guide

Insert image: Amelia Eats

But if you want something else, Joo Leong Cafe is a great spot if you want a simple breakfast of coffee and roti bakar. Their toast is not like others, because it’s so crunchy in a good way! Top it off with a cup of coffee and half-boiled eggs. Since it’s on the way to Penang International Airport, you can come here when you’ve touched down in Penang early in the morning.

Arguably, dim sum heaven may or may not exist at Tai Tong Restaurant. It’s one of the famous spots in our 2022 Malaysian food guide, let alone in Penang. There’s so much to order, including their lao sa bao, their har gow dumplings, and their siew mai. If dim sum sounds too filling for you, travel to Sri Weld Food Court to get nasi lemak bungkus at Ali Nasi Lemak. This Penang food costs around RM2/S$0.32 and it’s great when you’re on a budget. 

Bread lovers should listen up, because we’re going to Continental Bakery. You’ve got the freshly-baked bread loaves and buns, croissants, cinnamon rolls, cream puffs, and chocolate raisin buns. On the savoury side, the bakery does serve mushroom soup to dip your bread in. 

Afternoon

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113 Duck Meat Koay Teow Soup’s signature dish is in its name. Grab a bowl of duck meat kuay teow soup, and such a nourishing dish will guarantee to warm your belly the rest of the day. Imagine rice noodles in a warm, brothy soup, topped with homemade, springy fishballs and pieces of duck meat. Similarly, Hot Bowl White Curry Mee can do the same. Together, they form two of the most quintessential Penang food in town. 

Curry mee in Penang is something you need to try while in town, especially white curry mee. As the name suggests, the curry broth is white. There’s tahu pok, prawns, cuttlefish, cockles, and coagulated pig’s blood. You can also personalise your spice levels per bowl, and help yourself to a spoonful of chilli paste. But be warned! It can get pretty hot. 

On the note of noodles and soup, compared to the other Assam laksa variations in the country, Penang Assam laksa truly takes the cake. Air Itam Laksa is famous among locals in Penang, with its timeless recipe and generous toppings. The noodles are completely drenched in the broth for extra flavour, and make sure you mix everything well so you can enjoy your bowl! 

Also read: 22 Fun Things to Do in Penang On Your First Trip

Arguably, Wen Chiang Hainan Chicken Rice serves the best Hainanese chicken rice in Penang. You can choose between the poached or roasted chicken, or you can have both in one order. As a side order, you can get a plate of lobak (five-spice meat rolls). No matter how simple, it’s memorable enough for our 2022 Malaysian food guide. 

2022 malaysia food guide

Image credit (L-R): Wahiruzaman; maka.nn0

Now let’s talk about the sweet side of things. Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul on Keng Kwee Street is an iconic tourist spot on our 2022 Malaysian food guide. When you’ve got room for dessert, order a bowl of cendol. One bite of the cendol will put the rest to shame and render your taste buds speechless. The condiments are generous in such a small bowl, and even the gula melaka balances out the coconut milk just right!

Also read: Where to Travel in Malaysia: Top Destinations From Every State in the Country

Tony’s Ais Kacang serves some of the best ais kacang desserts in town. If you look away from this 2022 Malaysian food guide hotspot, you’re totally missing out. In one bowl, you’d get shaved ice drizzled with a bright pink syrup and coconut milk, followed by the standard toppings of corn, grass jellies, peanuts, and a scoop of ice cream. What more could you ask for? 

Night

Kebaya at Seven Terraces in Penang is next on our 2022 Malaysian food guide. Compared to the kopitiams and hawker stalls, this one’s a bit more upscale. Some would say that this is probably the most beautiful dining space in town, with an interior that may remind you of Crazy Rich Asians. The extensive menu boasts a modern twist on Indo-Chinese and classic Peranakan dishes, like otak otak and ju hu char

Also read: Top 8 Hidden Bars & Speakeasies to Discover in Penang

Quick question: Would you be interested in gourmet burgers? If you said yes, then join us for a round at Spade’s Burgers. They’ve got branches in the Klang Valley, KL and Ipoh, but why not pay a visit to one in Penang? Every burger is made fresh upon order, and the fries portion is generous. You can choose a variety of meat patties: pork, beef, and chicken, but there are salmon and mushroom burgers too. 

penang food

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Though some of us may be a little biased about it, many have said Penang char kuey teow is the best. Malaysians often hold this Penang food dish to their hearts because it’s just that good. At Siam Road Char Koay Teow, the rice noodles are fried alongside beansprouts, eggs, cockles, shrimps, and Chinese Sausages in a blazing wok. Each plate comes packed with rich wok hei, which is really crucial to the dish. 

When you’re done with dinner, let’s go get traditional desserts that remain popular and well-loved in Penang. At Mat Toh Yau Dessert & Food, you can try Ai Yu Bing (ice lemon jelly), Leng Chee Kang (sweet lotus seed soup), Barley Beancurd Gingko, and MTY Milky (colourful jellies and longan in milk that’s not too sweet). The bright pink van that sells this is eye-catching, so you know you’ve come to the right place. 

Also read: Sights to Visit on a Walking Tour Around Penang’s George Town

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Every dish in Malaysia is symbolic of its culture and customs. These are the recipes that have been perfected and passed down between generations throughout history. No matter how complex the ingredients are, every dish has been made generously with love and time. Each bite is guaranteed to fill your bellies and hearts with bliss. Now it’s up to you to give Malaysian cuisine the rep that it deserves. 


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Natasha Effendy
Natasha Effendy

Natasha is a wordsmith and digital content creator who's been trying to write her way into the adventure of a lifetime. If she's not writing, you'd definitely catch her nursing her addiction to romance and fantasy novels with a cup of tea.

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