Malaysia Street Food (Hawker Food)

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Roti tisu

Roti tisu

I love street food, also known as hawker food. To me, it’s better than restaurant food. If I am to visit another country, I would dive for street food and not those at the restaurants. There is something about street food that fascinates me and keeps me craving for more. On top of that, they are way cheaper than restaurant food.

On my recent trip back to Malaysia, a very good friend took us around for a few days trying out all the best street food in my home town, Sibu, a town in the state of Sarawak…….the best coffee shops for the best local food and the best drink. In Malaysia, street foods are mainly sold in small coffee shops or sometimes at the evening or night markets, called ‘pasar malam‘.

Here are some of the best street food that my family indulged in almost everyday while back home for holiday. If you ever make a trip to Malaysia, don’t miss out on these wonderful food. At least give a try.

Suresh at 3 Hungry Tummies is hosting Malaysian Monday Blog Event this month. His blog is choked full of wonderful Asian home cooking. Anyone who cooks Malaysian food or talks anything about Malaysia can join. That’s fun! I’m submitting this post. A hot topic in Malaysia now is politics as our election is coming soon. Back home, everywhere people were seen enjoying food but talking about politics. Well, as for me, food and my craving come first…..haha. Still so much to learn and enjoy! But I read a lot about the Malaysian political stories too.

Roti canai

Roti canai

Curry sauce

Curry sauce

I was first introduced to this delicious food, ‘roti canai‘, also called ‘paratha‘, when I visited Penang many years ago. I didn’t like it at first. It was served with some sugar sprinkled over it. Later I was introduced by my friends to eat it with lentil curry. I fell in love with it immediately! Ever since then it’s one of my top favourite street food.

In Malaysia, roti canai is usually made by the Indians or Malays. The art of making it is very fascinating but sadly I didn’t manage to take pictures of it. This griddle-fried pancake comes in many thin layers which is just perfect for mopping up the curry sauce. It goes great with any curry. I have also tried the mutton curry (left picture above). However we still prefer the lentil curry (right picture above).

A later creation from ‘roti canai’ is the ‘roti tisu‘ (shown in the first picture above). It’s the same dough as the ‘roti canai’ but the pancake is thin like tissue paper which earned its name ‘roti tisu’. It tastes very delicious too. It can be drizzled with condensed milk, chocolate or peanut butter or dipped in curry sauce. It’s crispy and chewy at the same time. I love it’s presentation…like a pyramid!

Tek tarik

Tek tarik

For us, a roti canai meal is never complete without ‘teh tarik‘. Translated, it is ‘pulled tea’ where 2 little pots are used to pour the tea from one to another from a certain height to incorporate air into the tea to give it a special fragrance. Not all tea makes a good ‘teh tarik’. It is mainly made from tea dust. Not every shop sells nice ‘teh tarik’. I must have tried at least 6 shops and only one is considered good. It has to be hot, fragrant and the right sweetness. The tea must be freshly made, too, so as not to carry that unpleasant, bitter after taste.

Food Garden, Kuala Lumpur Airport

Food Garden, Kuala Lumpur International Airport

If you ever transit at Kuala Lumpur Sepang International Airport, you can go to Food Garden at second level. It’s one place we never miss if we ever have to transit there. There are lots of local food there at very reasonable price. The roti canai and the teh tarik there are good.



This popular noodle dish, known as ‘kampua‘ in Sibu, is another of my family top favourite. We ate this for breakfast almost everyday while in Sibu. I thought it was quite addictive. Our friend even took us to a shop where ministers always frequent. He called it ‘Minister Kampua’…haha.

It’s amazing how this ‘kampua’ looks simple but it tastes really delicious. In Kuching, this dish is called ‘kolo mee‘. I was told that the only difference is the meat used as topping. ‘Kolo mee‘ uses minced meat while ‘kampua’ uses thin sliced meat. Some people love the noodles black with soya sauce or spicy with chili sauce. But we love it plain.

Pulut panggang

Pulut panggang

Pulut panggang

Pulut panggang

This is called ‘pulut panggang‘ locally. It is glutinous rice pre-cooked with coconut cream, then wrapped in banana leaves and then grilled over charcoal. Some are plain while some are filled with spicy sambal. I like both. It’s not easy to get very good pulut panggang. A very good pulut panggang is one where the rice is very fragrant and with the right texture as pictured above. You can still see the rice grains. I have tried many but most are very disappointing. This one above is really good, sold at Sibu airport. It was first introduced by my dad many years ago. I always buy a few before departure, to eat along the way.

Penang prawn mee

Penang prawn mee

We had this popular prawn noodle in Kuala Lumpur at Lot 10 food court. The colour already half explained that it was very delicious. Indeed it was. There’s a punch to it. The taste, fragrance and spiciness were very well balanced. I’m glad I can cook quite a similar one here in Scotland. Check out my recent post: Malaysian Prawn Soup Noodles

 Congee with cruller

Congee with cruller

This is another very delicious dish we tried at Lot 10….congee with crullers. It looks quite plain but it’s very tasty and delicious. Eating congee with crullers gives a very satisfying feeling.

Malaysia has too many good local street food. It is just impossible to try all. I wish I could! These are just a few of my favourite ones. The trip was too short to try all and on several occasions I was too tired (by the heat and humidity) to bother to take any pictures. Maybe now I regret!

Have you been to Malaysia? What are your favourite local food there? Please share, add and comment in the comment box below.

Quote of the day……

“The first requisite of success is the ability to apply your physical and mental energies to one problem without growing weary.”

Thomas Edison

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kristy  on August 4th, 2010

Mary, I hope you completed your mission here! haha…. Sure, you had everything? Nothing missing! What about mee goreng mamak style, chicken shredded hor fun, penang asam laksa, ABC ice kacang, cempedak goreng, all the nyonya kuih-muih, local G-cheong fun, chicken rice ball and many many more! The best place for hawker food is at Bukit Bintang, by night. You sure will gone crazy when you see the food stalls there. Shame to tell you that I’ve only been there once. I really wanted to visit there again with my kids. They love hawker food too! Hope you’re enjoying your day.
Cheers, kristy

sushma mallya  on August 4th, 2010

All of them looks wonderful and very new to me, am sure each one was very tasty…

Jeannie  on August 4th, 2010

Kristy’s got them all down but she forgot to mention the traffic there is crazy too! That is one of the main reason I don’t go there often. But the hawkers food is indeed one of the best to be found in KL.

Keep Learning Keep Smiling » Malaysia Street Food (Hawker Food) - Rahsia Jana Wang Mudah  on August 4th, 2010

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the lacquer spoon  on August 4th, 2010

Woow, awesome food, food and food. You really inspire me to visit Malaysia!

TasteHongKong  on August 4th, 2010

Mary, you have shown to me that airport can offer nice foods as well. But is Subang Airport only for domestic flights?
Did we just dine on different tables in the Lot 10 food court !?

penny aka jeroxie  on August 4th, 2010

Oh yes… I miss all those food :) Always feel good to be back in SG and eat hawker food.

Mary  on August 4th, 2010

@kristy - No, it looks like mission impossible…LOL :D I need a longer holiday and a bigger stomach! :D Now you really make me hungry and drool at your long list of food…haha. I’ll wait for my next trip. Maybe I should fast one week before I go back….to eat a lot :D

@sushma mallya - yes, they were all really delicious….mmmm. I can even eat them everyday :D

@Jeannie - Haha….Kristy was only interested to make me suffer by talking about all the wonderful hawker food back home…some of the best in the world……knowing that I will be swallowing hard! :D

@the lacquer spoon - Come, let’s go to Malaysia! I want to go back again…as soon as possible :D

@TasteHongKong - Yes, Malaysian airports do offer very good food and reasonable price too, unlike other airports. Food Garden is at the Kuala Lumpur International airport. It offers domestic flights too. It’s the only place we will go to wait and eat while waiting for the next flight. So you can imagine how much we eat while waiting :D . Oh yes, we were probably sitting next to each other’s table at Lot 10 food court….may be eating the same thing…haha :P

@penny aka jeroxie - Singapore has so much awesome hawker food too. I miss Singapore. Hope to go there one day again….soon :D

anncoo  on August 4th, 2010

Mary, Those are all my favorite food and we’ve all these food in Singapore too. The Sarawak Kolo Mee is also available here and this is my hubby’s favorite!

Ivy @ My Simple Food  on August 4th, 2010

You are right about eating and politics in Malaysia. It has been like that for the past year or longer. Politics is getting ridiculous but food obviously improved tremendously! Yums!

elra  on August 4th, 2010

awak jadi lapar lah lihat gambar makanan ini. Is that pulut bakar plain? In Indonesia they have similar snack called lemper, it is stuffed pulut with meat or pultry. Very sedap!

Swathi  on August 4th, 2010

I love hawker food. Thanks to introducing me to new set of goodies.

pigpigscorner  on August 4th, 2010

I miss home!

Yummy Team  on August 4th, 2010

WOW!! Lots of yummy food especially roti tisu and roti canai..We have a malaysian restaurant here and I have tasted roti canai once, that was served with a really tasty gravy..Yum Yum!!

Arnold  on August 4th, 2010

What a great collection of available foods. In my neck of the woods the so-called street food is virtually non-existent. If you are lucky you might find the occasional hot dog but nothing else.

Mimi  on August 4th, 2010

Such an array of delicious food.

lani  on August 4th, 2010

wow, I would like to wander and have some of those snacks you presented…

Belinda @zomppa  on August 4th, 2010

I can’t agree with you more about street food. The thing is…Malaysian street food is MY FAVORITE. Clay pot chicken with Chinese sausage…you can’t find that in decent restaurants here!

peteformation  on August 4th, 2010

ha ha ha, Malaysian very imaginative, got roti tissue, roti KLCC also got! LOL!

CheeseGoddess  on August 4th, 2010

I would love living in Malaysia for the food alone! The diversity and the fusion of flavors is remarkable, and everything is reasonably priced. I had some seriously good Chinese food when I was there, lightly stir fried bean sprouts, awesome dim sum, chicken noodle soup… I’m dying thinking about it.

Pepy @Indonesia-Eats  on August 4th, 2010

Yay we call the same pasar malam. I sometimes get jealous with friends who live in Netherlands. Wvery year they have an event call pasar malam. A replica of pasar malam in Indonesia.

Btw, I miss pulut and roti canai (we call cane)!

duhh I can’t say I have a temptation to eat those *I’m fasting LOL*

Baking Barrister  on August 4th, 2010

Street food is seriously the best stuff. I love roti!

lequan@luvtoeat  on August 4th, 2010

Omg! All these eats are making me hungry Mary! I totally agree, street food is so much yummier than restaurant food. When we went back to visit Vietnam my parents wouldn’t let me eat street food there though. Being brought up in Canada almost all my life, they were afraid my stomachs wouldn’t be able to handle it.

Mary  on August 4th, 2010

@anncoo - If I go to Singapore, I want to eat the same thing, too :D . Wow…you have the kolo mee there also. What about ‘kampua mee’? Just substitute the sliced meat with minced meat…haha :D

@Ivy @ My Simple Food - When I get confused and frustrated at the politics, I’ll cook more and enjoy more good food…haha. Food is very therapeutic :D

@elra - Haha…lagi lihat, lagi lapar….sama sama sini juga :D Yes, that the plain pulut panggang with santan. I’m sure we have lots of similar food… cool!

@Swathi - Just wait til I show lots more….but have to wait til I go back again :P

@pigpigscorner - Me, too! Looking forward to my next trip back :D

@Yummy Team - Wonderful to know you have tasted roti canai! :D Sadly we don’t have a Malaysian restaurant here. I’ll have to make my own roti canai! One day….one fine day…..

@Arnold - Wow, Arnold, you must living in a land of all natural and healthy food! :D You remind me of my childhood years….everything was home grown and fresh. I like it.

@Mimi - Thanks very much, Mimi! :D

@lani - Time to go to Malaysia for a holiday :D

@Belinda @zomppa - Oh….wonderful to know that :D Now you make me miss the clay pot chicken. It has been a long time since I last ate that. Didn’t get the chance to eat it this time when I was back home :(

@peteformation - Wow….roti KLCC…that’s really imaginative! It’s truly ‘Malaysia Boleh’…haha :D

@CheeseGoddess - For food…..yes….must be one of the best place to stay on the world! :D We must be drooling together now…LOL

@Pepy @Indonesia-Eats - Wow…pasar malam in Armsterdam?? Now I’m sooooo jealous! Maybe I should start one here…haha. You can start craving again after your fasting :P

@Baking Barrister - We are both missing food now, especially roti :P

@lequan@luvtoeat - I think your parents are right. Oversea stomachs does not seem compatible with hawker food :( But I always bring along packets of friendly bacteria just in case and they have been effective so far for minor stomach upset or for any initial onset of stomach discomfort after outside food.

divya  on August 4th, 2010

This is looking lovely and tempting:)

rebecca  on August 4th, 2010

wow looks amazing adore Suresh man he can cook!
and so can you I want to go to Malaysia and EAT!

Little Inbox  on August 4th, 2010

I’m drooling now looking at the street food. Yum Yum!

Blackswan  on August 4th, 2010

I’m hungry already. Something new - didn’t know kampua is also wanton mee :)

Kamalika  on August 4th, 2010

what a mouthwatering spread…feeling hungry…

Christine @ Fresh Local and Best  on August 4th, 2010

All of this street food looks amazing! They each have a comforting affiliation with my childhood as my mom made many of these dishes. Love the tea!

Cook with Madin  on August 4th, 2010

Everything looks great Mary. Especially the Penang Prawn Mee, and the congee, you know me about soup, just love them.

Chef Dennis  on August 4th, 2010

Mary, everything looks delicious! the soups especially!

yummy koh  on August 4th, 2010

I love this - one of my favourites too.

Mary  on August 5th, 2010

@divya - Thanks very much, Divya! They make me want to go back for more :D

@rebecca - Totally agree with you…Suresh is a fantastic cook! I have lots to catch up with him…still learning hard :D Come….let’s go to Malaysia……FOOD FOOD FOOD!

@Little Inbox - Me, too…haha…all the time :D

@Blackswan - Can say it’s wantan mee without the wantan :P But it tastes very different though.

@Kamalika - I’m also feeling hungry looking at it :P Wish I know how to cook all of them!

@Christine @ Fresh Local and Best - Oh wow…..your mom is such a fantastic cook! I have to learn how to make all of them, then I don’t have to drool all the time…haha :D

@Cook with Madin - Thanks very much, Madin! We do share many similar favourites :D

@Chef Dennis - Yes, the soup was just so delicious….spicy, fragrant and tasty…mmm :D

@yummy koh - Yeah….similar favourites! :D

Suman Singh  on August 5th, 2010

WOw..deliciously looking good street food..they are the best and satisfying always…

Tasty Trix  on August 5th, 2010

Who would ever need to step foot inside a restaurant with all that AMAZING street food? I want all of it.

Reeni  on August 5th, 2010

I want to try all of this! So delicious!

food-4tots  on August 5th, 2010

I’m drooling looking at all those mouth-watering hawker food. Mary, you make me feel so homesick now. Hahaha!

Cooking-Gallery  on August 5th, 2010

I think hawker food is the best…! I miss it a lot here.

Elin  on August 5th, 2010

Mary…I love the roti tisu best. Light and not fattening like the roti canai. Roti Canai I like it with fish curry :) Glad you had a wonderful time savoring the malaysian hawker food when u were back for your holidays :)

Drick  on August 5th, 2010

I too love street food, during Mardi Gras, visting other countries too … so interesting in learning the different ones from the Malaysian venders - thanks Mary

Mary  on August 5th, 2010

I love street food and the sampling you’ve shared with us is amazing. It all looks wonderful. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings…Mary

Cathy at Wives with Knives  on August 5th, 2010

I agree with you, Mary, and always try to sample street food wherever I travel. I would love to try any of the beautiful dishes you’ve photographed. We have great food carts here in Oregon.

Angie's Recipes  on August 5th, 2010

Street food are the most satisfying and delicious.

shirley@køkken69  on August 5th, 2010

Mary, everything looks so good. This is the way to eat! Love Pasar Malam but unfortunately, we don’t have those anymore in Singapore….

Devaki @weavethousandflavors  on August 5th, 2010

Dear Mary - You are KILLING ME softly with this post :) I would give Anything for a roti canai, desi, otak and Pa mien…right now!!!! :) I MISS it all :)

Ciao, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

Cajun Chef Ryan  on August 5th, 2010

Street food is such a fun way to eat through a city!
The Kampua looks like it could be one of my favorites also, wonderful!

Bon appetit!

Ananda Rajashekar  on August 5th, 2010

can’t wait to visit Malaysia, lovely food pics….Am sure u have a great time with all those delicious food…and oh ya street food rules!

Mary  on August 5th, 2010

@Suman Singh - Totally agree with you….best and satisfying always :D

@Tasty Trix - Come….join me! We can go for a real eating spree! :D

@Reeni - You really should….just some of the best :D

@food-4tots - I’m homesick, too :( Yes, these food make me homesick…haha :D

@Cooking-Gallery - I wish there’s hawker food here! Maybe I should start one…haha :D

@Elin - Is roti tisu not as fattening as roti canai? Thought it’s made from the same dough. I have not tried roti canai with fish curry. Must be very delicious. Now I’m craving even more…haha :D

@Drick - I wish we have some form of events like the Mardi Gras here. Looks like lots of fun. We only have an International Market here a couple of times a year….quite a small one. I love visiting it to try out food from other countries….interesting and fun :D

@Mary - Thanks very much, Mary! I hope one day you get to try all :D

@Cathy at Wives with Knives - You are very lucky to live there where there are food carts. I wish we have it here…..need to continue to dream…haha :D Hope to get to try all these Malaysian hawker food one day.

@Angie’s Recipes - Totally agree with you….most satisfying and delicious! :D

@shirley@køkken69 - I think Singapore is too clean to have pasar malam :D Looks like you have to drive over to Johore for it :D

@Devaki @weavethousandflavors - Are you singing the song, Devaki?…LOL :D Gosh…it gets stuck in my head now…haha. Come…let’s go to Malaysia and eat our hearts out!

@Cajun Chef Ryan - Totally agree with you…fun way to eat through a city! I can survive on street foods everyday, everywhere :D

@Ananda Rajashekar - Come…let’s go! I can be your food tour guide :D I’m still craving for those awesome food!

Faith  on August 5th, 2010

What a delicious assortment of foods! I bet the roti with curry sauce was really delicious!

hopeeternal  on August 5th, 2010

Yet another interesting post Mary - thanks! I keep hearing about street food in Far Eastern Countries and how good it is. I’d love to try some.

Carolyn Jung  on August 5th, 2010

You have me salivating over that rice cooked with coconut milk. I bet it gets such wonderful complexity from the fire and from the leaves. YUM!

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faithy  on August 5th, 2010

I’ll have to tell myself not to read food blogs early in the morning when i havent taken my breakfast yet! Those photos are so tempting!

There’s this Malaysian hawker dish that i like but can’t find in Singapore either. It’s egg omelet oysters. The ones i’ve eaten in KL the egg is very thin almost pancake like with oysters placed on top. In Singapore, the egg omelet is more omelet like fried with oysters which i don’t quite like. I prefer the KL ones. Can’t find the recipe for it either. :(

Jess @ Bakericious  on August 5th, 2010

Mary, I love hawker food too especially Msian hawker food, I miss them so much but miss my chance of having them during my last wk trip to Penang cos I am sick :(. This wk suppose to go KL but cancel cos still feeling unwell. Oh I wan hokkein mee, wanton mee, fried keow teow, prawn noodle… drooling now :P

Joanne  on August 5th, 2010

Hawker food is THE best! I really need to go travel around Asia so that I can eat it all!

tigerfish  on August 5th, 2010

You make me miss street food right this moment!

petite nyonya  on August 5th, 2010

Malaysian food is BESTEST lah!

Mary  on August 6th, 2010

@Faith - Mmmm….yes….all of them are just delicious. Wish I can have them now! That would make my day :D

@hopeeternal - Hope you get to go there for a holiday and try out all the many wonderful fruits and street foods there. With the sun shine and all, I wonder whether you want to come back….haha :D

@Carolyn Jung - You are very right, the grilling from the charcoal fire brings out the beautiful fragrance of the coconut and banana leaves. The rice tastes awesome….yum! Now I’m drooling talking about it…haha :D

@faithy - I always tell myself that but always fail….haha. I was just so eager to see what others have! Then of course I suffer…LOL :D I love oyster omelette too. I have so far tried the Penang one. I find it’s very good. But I have not tried the KL crispy type. I must try it the next time I go back. Thanks very much for sharing.

@Jess @ Bakericious - Oh dear….so sorry to hear you were sick when you were in Penang :( I hope you have fully recovered. Penang has so much wonderful food……gosh….endless! I want all those that you listed… I’m drooling :D

@Joanne - Totally agree with you….hawker food is the BEST! :D
Yes, you need to take a holiday to the East and savour all the wonderful food there…awesome places of beauty and adventure, too.

@tigerfish - Haha….you must be drooling! :D

@petite nyonya - Haha…….BESTEST…….of course I agree totally!! :D

Cheah  on August 6th, 2010

We have such a wide choice of street food here in M’sia and you can even find something to bite even in the wee hours of the day.

Sidney  on August 6th, 2010

I like this one…you should try Roti Tisu Milo….even better…

Mary  on August 6th, 2010

@Cheah - I think we Malaysians are really so lucky. I remember sitting outside a cafe one time eating away at 3am in the morning…crazy huh! But it was so fun and memorable :D

@Sidney - Wow…didn’t know that! I have to try that next time. I love Milo. I can imagine how good it is..already drooling :D

Neha  on August 6th, 2010

I love street food too..we have some good dishes offered here in India,will post their pics someday

Mary  on August 6th, 2010

@Neha - Ooooh….I would really love to see some of the street foods from India! Hope you post it soon :D

shaz  on August 6th, 2010

Thanks for taking part Mary. Love this post, I too really prefer street food when visiting Malaysian, and we try and attempt not to eat the same thing twice :) But roti almost daily is a must.

Magic of Spice  on August 6th, 2010

Oh wow, just look at all of those delights:)

Roti n Rice  on August 6th, 2010

Everything look so delicious! So many things to try and so little time. Also not enough room in the tummy :)

Conor @ HoldtheBeef  on August 9th, 2010

Mary this is so torturous, it all looks so good! I’ve only been very briefly to Malaysia once, and I think a return visit is long overdue.

mycookinghut  on August 9th, 2010

I am getting really hungry by looking at the food! I love roti tissue!! yummy!

Mary  on August 10th, 2010

@shaz - You are most welcome. Sometimes I wish I have a bigger tummy to stuff all those good food in…LOL :D

@Magic of Spice - You must be drooling…haha! :D

@Roti n Rice - Totally agree with you! :D

@Conor @ HoldtheBeef - It’s always torturous for me…haha :D Just makes me miss home! Would be great that you visit Malaysia again soon.

@mycookinghut - I’m always hungry just thinking about it all…haha :D If only we can get all of these here!

Liz  on August 16th, 2010

This article is fabulous! The food looks phenomenal–literally, mouth watering. AND I LOVE roti! Thank you for posting!

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