The culinary highlights listed here are mostly fairly easy to find, and many of these foods cut across racial boundaries as well, with each ethnic group modifying the dish slightly to suit its own cooking style.
Nasi lemak Rice fragrantly cooked in coconut milk and served with fried peanuts, tiny fried anchovies, cucumber, boiled egg and spicy sambal.
Roti canai This Indian-inspired griddle bread comes with a thin curry sauce. The most ubiquitous of a long list of rotis, it’s served by Malay and Indian kedai kopis and stalls.
Nasi goreng Literally, fried rice, though not as in Chinese restaurants; Malay and Indian versions feature a little spice and chilli, along with the usual mix of vegetables plus shrimp, chicken and/or egg bits.
Char kuay teow A Hokkien Chinese dish of fried tagliatelle-style rice noodles rendered dark by soy sauce and garnished with egg, pork and prawns. Malay kuay teow goreng is also available and tends to be plainer, though also spicier.
Satay A Malay dish of chicken, mutton or beef kebabs on bamboo sticks, marinaded and barbecued. The meat is accompanied by cucumber, raw onion and ketupat, which is sticky-rice cubes steamed in a wrap of woven leaves. All are meant to be dipped in a spicy peanut sauce. Chinese satay featuring pork also exists.
Laksa A spicy seafood noodle soup, Nonya in origin. Penang’s asam laksa features flaked fish and a sour flavour from tamarind.

Essentials

Everything you need to know before you set off.

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