Head down to the hawker centre in Madras Lane Chinatown for a great example of Assam Laksa. While its coconut curry cousin is better known in Australia, it's the more refined flavours of Assam Laksa that demand to be sought out in Malaysia. Made from a fish sauce and tamarind base, there's a delicate sour note that's balanced against the fresh, bright taste of shallots, ginger flowers, lemongrass, red onion and turmeric, with either thick white noodles or vermicelli at the bottom of the bowl.
Dedicated carnivores will be right at home in Malaysia. Some of the world's best barbecue is cooked right on the street or in little food courts, over coals at extreme temperatures, or slow and low for fattier cuts. Pork, chicken, beef and seafood are expertly grilled on skewers, marinated so they're both smoky and sweet. Chinese-style duck and pork is served just as it should be - with a crisp exterior and immoderately tender within. Take a cruise down the world-famous streetfood strip, Jalan Alor, for a wide variety of chargrilled treats, or head to the food court underneath Zara on Jalan Bukit Bintang for some top-notch barbecue.
No visit to Malaysia would be complete without the obligatory char keoy teow. Locals are rightly proud of this elegantly unpretentious dish - thick, flat noodles, biting chilli, fresh prawns, fishballs and crisp bean-sprouts all thrown in a wok, with an egg tossed in for good measure, then served on fragrant banana leaf. It's famous for a reason. One popular example of this iconic dish is at a street-side stall at the O&S Coffee Shop in Taman Paramount - where you can get a great version with a duck egg or cockle-shells.
When we talk about Malaysian cuisine, it's often char keoy teow or satay that first comes to mind. But, some of the best streetside cuisine is made by the substantial Indian Malaysian population - think freshly-stretched naan, fluorescent-orange tandoori, potato and spinach-stuffed paratha served with pickled onion and delicious herbal broths. And a Pro-tip: it's best eaten without cutlery. It’s worth heading out to the suburb Bangsar to find Sri Nirwana Maju, an Indian stall with a Malaysian focus, but the Indian quarter Brickfields has some incredible outlets also.
Of all the incredible cuisine on the streets of Malaysia, it's a noodle/milkshake hybrid that locals really lose it for. Vendors on portable carts ladle this mixture of coconut milk, bright-green jelly noodles, palm sugar and frosty ice into plastic cups, while queues of chendul lovers jostle for a taste. We suggest you do as the Malaysians do. Penang Road Famous Teochew, which has stalls across the country, has an outlet at the Cheras Leisure Mall on Jalan Manis - starting here’s a good idea.
In a beautiful translation of Bahasa, Roti Jala literally means 'net bread'. Walk down any laneway of street food vendors and you'll see cooks artfully swish the roti mixture over an infernal grill - from a great height - then expertly flip and fold the gossamer lace onto a plate. It's a simple dish, essentially a turmeric-flavoured crepe and typically eaten with chicken curry. But served hot off the grill, Roti Jala's delicate texture and floral flavour needs little embellishment. Take a stroll through Kampung Baru to find some delicious Roti Jala (and a lot else besides)
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