Dining in Malaysia

Malaysia has many kinds of restaurants almost everywhere in the cities and towns. There are Malay restaurants, Chinese restaurants, Indian restaurants, Thai restaurants and more.

Eating out in Malaysia is a real gastronomic adventure. There is such a great variety; spicy Malay Food, a seemingly endless variety of Chinese food, exotic cuisine from North and South India, as well as Nyonya and Portuguese Food.

Popular Malaysian dishes include Satay, Nasi Lemak, Rendang, Roti Canai, Murtabak, Laksa, Chicken Rice, and fried noodles. Western cuisine is also easily available. In addition, international fast food chains operate in major towns side by side with thousands of road side stalls and food bazaars.

Locals make little distinction between eating at inexpensive hawker stalls and pricier restaurants – the quality of food at a stall is usually just as good, and many offer regional dishes which aren’t available elsewhere. There is, though, a difference between the stalls themselves.

Traditionally, they were open-air and many still line the traffic-choked roads in little enclaves throughout the city, but increasingly stalls are found grouped together in food courts inside buildings, where the food is usually no more expensive but the surroundings are air-conditioned.

Good as the stalls can be, for really special local cuisine you’ll need to dine out at one of the big hotels, since most Malay restaurants in KL serve a limited range of dishes. The exception is at festival times when the stops are pulled out and imaginative Malay cuisine is available throughout the city – look out for hotels offering special buffets.

Finding good Chinese or Tamil and North Indian food is much easier; it’s served in cafés and restaurants in both Chinatown and Little India. In Little India especially, the cafés and hawkers do a manic trade at lunchtime in excellent banana leaf curries, murtabak, tosai and roti.

The majority of the restaurants and cafés open daily from 11am or noon until midnight. Most restaurants stay open throughout the year, though note that everything will be closed during the two-day Hari Raya festival, and most Malay restaurants close during Ramadan month.

It’s difficult to be precise about prices at restaurants in KL, save to say that you’ll generally spend more than at a hawker stall, but rarely have to fork out more than RM50 per person. That said, even in top-class restaurants it’s possible to sit down and just order a plate of noodles at lunchtime; the reviews give an idea of how much you can generally expect to pay for an decent meal. It’s also worth looking out for buffets and special deals at the top hotels.



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  1. What are some cheap Asia vacation spots? :: Asia Vacation says:

    [...] Dining is cheap in local food outlet, less than MYR 10 per person. http://all.talkmalaysia.com/malaysia-dining/ [...]

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