Malaysian food is absolutely delicious, but if you’re visiting this peninsula country, you may be intimidated by the unfamiliar breakfast offerings. Don’t be! The food may be spicy and not what you’re used to, but one of the best experiences about visiting a new country is the food. Trust us – Malaysian breakfast food is not one you want to miss out on. So, skip the hotel buffet and head out to eat a local breakfast in Malaysia.
Malay cuisine is a fabulous melting pot of traditional Malay dishes alongside Chinese and Indian cuisine. During a trip to Malaysia, you can switch it up by eating breakfast dishes traditionally associated with each culture one day after the other. This is why Malaysia is one of our favorite destinations for food in Southeast Asia, one that is often overlooked by tourists.
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What Do Malays Eat For Breakfast?
In Malaysia, breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day – although, surprisingly, the least social. Traditional breakfast food of Malaysia differs from region to region depending on the season and produce. Nevertheless, you can expect to find flatbreads with spicy sauces, decadent flavourful pancakes, meaty porridges, and more on the breakfast menus of most cafes and restaurants.
Dim sum is also quite commonly eaten as a Malaysian breakfast food, even though it is of Chinese origin. These small, bite-sized portions are easy to make, carry and eat on the go – perfect for busy city life in Kuala Lumpur or Penang! Similarly, Indian breads dipped in curry are a super popular breakfast food in Malaysia – another example of the melting pot that is Malaysia.
Most Malaysian breakfast food will look relatively unfamiliar to you – think spicy rice, chicken wings, and anchovies as a pretty standard flavor combo. However, if you want to ease yourself into Malaysian cuisine, there’s one thing every country has in common – coffee!
Curious about breakfast dishes around the world?
10 Malaysian Breakfasts For You To Try
|Breakfast Item||🇲🇾 Malay Dish|
|🇲🇾 National Dish Of Malaysia||Nasi Lemak|
|🫓 🍛 Bread with Curry||Roti Canai|
|🍞 🥚 Kaya Toast With Eggs||Roti Bakar Kaya Dengan Telur|
|🥟 Dim Sum||Dim Sum|
|🫖 Pulled Tea||Teh Tarik|
|🍩 Malay Doughnuts||You Char Kway|
|🫓 Lentil-Flour Crepes||Tosai|
|🍜 Spicy Noodle Soup||Laksa|
|🥞 Malay Fluffy Pancakes||Apam Balik|
|🍚 Rice Porridge||Congee|
Malaysian breakfast food is rich, spicy, and delicious. While you’re visiting Malaysia, here are 10 Malaysian breakfast foods for you to eat – you won’t want to miss a single one!
The national dish of Malaysia, you can find this popular breakfast food everywhere you look. From street vendors to restaurants, nasi lemak is a quick, easy and healthy option for travelers and locals on the go in the morning. Fragrant coconut rice is topped with a fried egg, peanuts, anchovies, and cucumber, then served with a side of spicy sambal sauce.
If you need another reason to try this delicious Malay breakfast, in 2018, it was named one of the best and healthiest international breakfasts by TIME Magazine. Healthy, cheap, and delicious? What’s not to love!
Learn about eating in Malaysia:
Originating in India, roti canai has made its way all across Asia to become a firm favorite and breakfast staple in Malaysia. These flaky, oily flatbreads are loved for their versatility, as they can be eaten any time of the day with many different fillings.
The most common filling for this traditional food in Malaysia is usually dal or curry, though sometimes roti canai is served with sambal. Look for this delicious Malay breakfast food in mamak stalls, street vendors, and restaurants around the country.
When exploring Penang for food, we ate roti canai nearly every day. Amber admits she has a minor addiction to roti canai. And honestly I can’t blame here.
Kaya Toast With Eggs
Now this one will look a bit more familiar! Don’t despair for all the fussy eaters – Malaysians love their eggs, and kaya toast with soft-boiled ones is a breakfast staple. Toast dripping in hot butter, dipped in soft egg yolk is the height of breakfast indulgence, and you’ll see many Malaysians eating this classic meal in cafes and restaurants around the country. Kaya toast with eggs is a particularly popular meal on the island of Langkawi, as it is a typical tourist destination.
If you really feel like having a traditional Malaysian experience, grab a cup of hot black coffee and sip it with your meal. This Malay breakfast is also commonly found in Singapore.
One thing Malaysians love in their breakfast food is quick, easy bites for on the go. Therefore, dim sum is the perfect option! You’ve probably seen these traditional bite-sized foods in Chinese restaurants back home, but in Malaysia, dim sum is a typical breakfast food that people from all walks of life enjoy. Typically served with hot Chinese jasmine tea, this breakfast in Malaysia has many varieties to choose from – from dumplings to small cakes, dim sum caters for every taste.
You’ll find dim sum in restaurants or mamak stalls on street corners. Look out for steamed turnip cakes and shrimp dumplings among delicious, unusual offerings.
One thing is for sure – in Malaysia, tea is king. A far cry from the brews enjoyed in the US and UK, teh Tarik is a sweet, hot beverage served with a signature foam on top. This milk-heavy drink usually accompanies breakfasts in Malaysia and gets its nickname of ‘pulled tea’ from the pouring of cup to cup. Of course, you’ll also find beverages like Milo prepared in the same way – it creates a delicate taste that is creamy, delicious, and unforgettable.
You Char Kway
Doughnuts for breakfast? Sign us up! You Char Kway, or Chinese Doughnuts, are a simple, semi-sweet dish usually served as a side to another breakfast food. Known in Malaysia as Youtiao, these crispy Malay breakfast foods are similar to churros (Spanish doughnuts) in shape and size but do not come dusted in cinnamon sugar or chocolate dipping sauce. Instead, You Char Kway usually accompanies porridge or other neutral foods.
Don’t be fooled by the room this Malay breakfast food takes up – tosai are actually paper-thin! These delicious lentil-flour crepes originated in India and are typically served with curries, spicy chutneys, and thick, tangy yogurt. Rip the crispy edges of the tosai and use it to scoop up the accompanying sauce.
Known as ‘dosa’ in India, tosai has many spellings in Malaysia – don’t be surprised if you see ‘thosai,’ ‘toosai,’ or ‘dosai,’ on street vendors signs or in restaurant menus. They’re all selling the same thing, so prepare to get a bit messy and order this delicious dish for breakfast in Malaysia!
We couldn’t make a list of breakfasts in Malaysia without mentioning laksa. Depending on the region, laksas will vary wildly. You’ll find variations with ingredients, spice, and flavor profiles throughout Malaysia.
The best-known Malay breakfast laksa is probably Sarawak laksa. Nicknamed ‘breakfast of the Gods,’ this broth is rich, spicy, and perfectly balanced. Sarawak laksa contains creamy coconuts milk, sour tamarind, hot sambal, and salty galangal. This creates an intense taste that only increases the more you eat. Usually served with vermicelli noodles, Sarawak laksa can be customized to suit your tastes. The traditional version is served with chicken, prawns, and bean sprouts. However, you can add tofu, omelet, or anything else that takes your fancy.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’ll love apam balik. These soft, fluffy pancakes are one of Malaysia’s most famous street foods and a favorite of locals of all ages. Apam balik is usually stuffed with peanuts, although chocolate and sesame caramel are other common variations. This simple Malay breakfast is made with eggs, flour, and milk. Next, the mixture is fried off in butter and oil to create a crispy outside and soft, moist center.
Want pancakes, but without the sugar? There are also savory versions of this classic Malay breakfast. These pancakes tend to be thinner, crispier. You’ll find versions with cheese, sambal, or various seeds.
One of the most common foods in Malaysia, congee. Congee is soft white rice that has been boiled down until thick and gooey. A dish from China, this versatile rice porridge can be served sweet or savory. Congee is often given to sick or young people as it doesn’t require chewing.
The ultimate in Malaysian comfort food, congee is usually served with meat and eggs. You’ll find versions with pork, chicken, and fish, as well as omelet and spring onions sliced on top. Congee by itself isn’t exceptionally flavourful. So, make sure you eat this traditional food from Malaysia with plenty of toppings!
FAQs – Malaysian Breakfast Dishes
One of the most typical breakfast dishes in Malaysia is dim sum. Brought to Malaysia by the Chinese, dim sum is characterized by small dishes of food. The food can range from dumplings, pork ribs, and steamed rice. Another typical breakfast dish in Malaysia is roti canai. Commonly eaten by Malays and Indians, roti canai is crepe-like fried dough, served with curry.
Breakfast should never be missed in Malaysia. Some of the most popular and delicious dishes are served for breakfast including roti canai, laksa, and dim sum.
Nasi lemak is often considered the national dish of Malaysia. It consists of coconut rice, fried chicken, a fried egg, peanuts, anchovies, and cucumber. It is enjoyed with a traditional spicy sambal sauce.