If you travel to Malaysia, it would be a shame if you left without trying mamak food. You can get it almost anywhere in Malaysia from stalls on the street, in food courts, or at restaurants like Bestari. And, mamak food selling establishments are generally open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so there is really no excuse for having been to Malaysia without having tried it.
What is mamak food?
Mamak food is not actually a specific type of cuisine. Rather, it refers to the food often sold by Tamil Muslims in Malaysia. Some of the common, popular dishes are: Roti Canai (Parotta), Roti telur, nasi kandar, nasi briyani, nasi lemak, maggi goreng, mee goreng, and satay.
This type of cuisine is so popular in Malaysia that, to an outsider, Malaysian food and mamak food might be thought of as one and the same.
What to eat in Malaysia
Malaysian’s love food, and there is a huge variety to try throughout Malaysia. But, you can definitely knock off several items from the list at someplace like Bestari.
Restaurants like Bestari can be thought of (albeit loosely) as Malaysian diner. Or, perhaps more closely to a Malaysian cha chaan teng / Cha Can Ting 茶餐廳. People often come here late at night with friends to enjoy some teh tarik (pulled tea) and comfort food.
Chicken Satay with peanut sauce
Skewered and grilled chicken. A simple dish, but for some reason it seems impossible to find a place that makes this even half as good outside of Malaysia.
Roti canai, roti telur, and roti tisu
Roti canai is a multi-layered, flaky, and ridiculously tasty bread generally served with curry sauce. Roti telur is its fried-egg-filled brother and roti tisu is a tissue-thin, buttery and sweet version.
Spicy, fried yellow noodles. Often served with egg and/or some sort of seafood/meat.
Teh Tarik, watermelon juice and other drinks
Teh tarik (pulled tea) is a must. But, on a warmer day you can enjoy an assortment of iced teas or watermelon juice. If you’re a foreigner with a weak stomach, you should probably request your drink without ice though.