Malaysia, as what foreigner know, a paradise of food. Well, decide to go into a little bit more detail about food in Malaysia. I like food, like to cook, like to eat, of cause, most of the riding I made include food hunt.
It is like a package for us. We ride, stop, eat, refuel and move on. That is what I/pillion do most of the ride.
Ok, no more rubbish, now, in Malaysia, food separated into different kind of cuisine, Chinese cuisine, Indian cuisine and Malay cuisine, this three are the main three category. But, keep in mind that for each of the category of cuisine, it might not be as origin as where it came from, and for sure, a particular type of dish can be a new invention, or 'hybrid' ; most of the time, it had been tuned into a more 'local friendly' flavor.
See, I do have a little opinion on Malaysian food, not to say they are terrible, but just like any other product, you can not just expect every product came from Japan to be high quality, in the other hand whatsoever from China to be bad. Now here is the trick, add in a strong flavor, most of the people will think it is tasty. So you need to find the real deal before you can really comment on a particular dish.
I will take an example of one of a very famous Chinese hawker food- Cha Kwe Tiao; you can't find it from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, those chinese populated area. It is most famous in Penang, well, not only Penang, it could be anywahere in Malaysai. This fry Kwe Tiao can smell very nice but taste very plain depend on how you prepare it. But most people will just like it as long as you put a lot of flavor in it, heavy soy sauce, sugar, salt, pork oil(yes, it is to make it smell nice). The real deal should be smell nice, definitely, but also taste not so oily; at the same time the base, kwe tiao should not be to hard either. So now you know how. ( It is a kind of cuisine where Chinese ancestor ate in the past when they migrate from China to here, they are mostly hard labor and poor people, same as what Ba Kut Teh-meat in herb soup/dry mean for)
Some people come from a plain flavor culture may be either love it or hate it for Malaysian food. I ever come across two westerner( I could not tell Europe or America) stop by one Penanag Laksa stall and order two bowl of Penang laksa, the outcome is, well, two spoon of soup and they left the table, with two bottle of empty coke. So you will just love it or hate it, there are hardly any in between for that.
Malay cuisine, sweet, hot and salty, it is a good mix of taste on that. Malays are known in adding comparatively more sugar, salt and chilli in their cuisine. Do not miss out one more point, santan, in English, coconut milk in cake, rice curry etc. Coconut milk smell good, don't take too much on that, it might boost your cholesterol level. One very famous Malay cuisine will be nasi lemak- coconut milk rice. Peanuts, chilli, egg, anchovies, a typical ingredient, but it can also be with wide variety of dishes depending on who selling it, hotel, high class restaurant, Malay hawker.......Malay cuisine is more on heavy flavoring compare Chinese cuisine. Most of the time, the original food taste are covered. Most of the cooking method are frying, deep frying, barbeque, steam, cook.
Indian food, yeah, it is more identical to Malay food because it is the more integrate into Malay food as Chinese one. Indian cuisine should be very hot, spicy as what you can remember of India, over here, it is a little mild over here. Add in coconut milk and you can get Indian style curry compare with spicy curry over India with heavy chilli added. Besides we also have mamak, mixed of Malay-Indian who sell Nasi Kandar as what we call it. It is a kind of buffet style food consist of different variety of dished for you to choose.
As a conclusion, Malaysian food consist of many types of dish types from different ethnics. The flavor is typically heavy at the Northern part (Thailand influence) and milder to the south ( Singaporean eat plain food-no offense haha). If you want to know what is the famous food of Malaysia, it is just too hard to choose one, or even several, it is not like Sushi of Japan, Tom Yam of Thailand or Sausage of Germany. So, happy eating.........................................