Comfortingly similar to Singapore food, yet also uniquely different, Malaysian food just hits your taste buds in a different way.
With Malaysia’s Merdeka Day, or independence day, just around the corner on 31 August, it’s a perfect time to indulge in some of the best Malaysian food in Singapore. We’ll start by saying many dishes in Malaysia and Singapore are similar. We both share influences from Malay cuisine, plus Chinese, Indian and Indonesian foods as well. Both countries also share similar weather, and can grow the same fruit and vegetables.
That being said, the best Malaysian food does have some unique tastes. Some dishes are more sour than the Singapore version, others make more use of coconut or herbs. The bottom line? You need to try the Singapore version and the Malaysian versions for yourself, and decide which you personally prefer. To help, we’ve rounded up some of the best restaurans for authentic, great Malaysian food in Singapore. You are very welcome!
1. Lou Yau
The town of Ipoh and the island state of Penang are especially famous for distinctive food. So it makes sense that Ipoh Hor Fun, Bean Sprouts Chicken, Penang Char Kway Teow and Assam Laksa as just some of the standout dishes here. Lou Yau uses Ipoh-imported hor fun (rice noodles) so diners get an authentic taste.
If you’re looking for some of the best Malaysian food in Singapore, try Penang Chendol for dessert, the pandan jelly comes pale and pastel green (a sign that it’s hand-made) and it’s flavoured with cold-pressed coconut milk and palm sugar from Malaysia. Wash it all down with Air Mata Kucing (a drink made with monk fruit, winter melon and dried longan).
1. The limestone hills that surround Ipoh give the town’s water a special quality. Gourmands swear that this mineral-infused water helps to make Ipho’s hor fun noodles more silky. The calcium in the water also makes Ipoh bean sprouts especially crispy.
2. Air Mata Kucing was rated at number 6 on CNN Travel’s World’s 50 Most Delicious Drinks!
Address: Multiple locations
Tel: See website
Opening hours: See website
2. The Coconut Club
Among the beautiful heritage shophouses of Ann Siang Hill in Chinatown, you will find this charming restaurant that specialises in one thing: Nasi Lemak ($5-$16.80). If you think the prices are high for coconut rice, bear in mind the quality of the ingredients. One of the main components of Nasi Lemak is the coconut rice. If it lacks fragrance or flavour, the whole dish is ho-hum.
So if you’re after some of the best Malaysian food in SIngapore, you’ll be happy to hear The Coconut Club uses its own blend of small-batch, cold-pressed, premium coconut milk. It’s made exclusively for the restaurant. A blend of Mawa and Malayan Tall coconut milk, it provides the prefect balance of creaminess, fragrance and flavour to enhance all the restaurant’s signature dishes, including coconut rice, rendang ($22), chendol ($4.80) and handmade keuh. It’s quite an atas spot, so you can also get cocktails, beer and wine.
The Coconut Club
Address: 28 Ann Siang Rd., 069708
Tel: 6635 2999
Opening hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Daily)
3. Penang Culture
One of the more well-known restaurants for the best Malaysian food in Singapore, Penang Culture serves up classics like Penang Fried Kway Teow ($9.50), and Penang Rendang Nasi Lemak ($10.90). It also serves Penang Assam Laksa ($7.90). If you are wondering what the difference is between Penang Fried Kway Teow and Singapore style Char Kway Teow… the Singapore version uses dark soy sauce while the Penang version uses regular soy sauce. It’s lighter in colour, and less sticky, but still packed with flavour. Try them both, then pick your personal favourite.
4. George Town Tze Char & Craft Beer at 81 Boat Quay
People in Penang love to eat by the water, so it fits that you can enjoy some Malaysian food with craft beer sitting outside, alongside the Singapore river. We all know that food on Boat Quay can be hit-and-miss, but this place has a solid fanbase for its chilli crab, and “Asian Tapas”, including the George Town Platter of bar bites for $22. The craft beers here are mostly from local Singapore brewers, and you can try four at once in the Beer Flight ($18). This is the perfect spot to enjoy some Malaysian-style lepak lepak, or relaxing.
Fun fact: Georgetown (also spelt George Town), is the capital city of the island state of Penang, Malaysia. This UNESCO World Heritage site has a unique food culture, with dishes influenced by many different cultures, mostly Chinese, Indian, Malay and Peranakan.
George Town Tze Char & Craft Beer at 81 Boat Quay
Address: 81 Boat Quay, 049869
Tel: 6535 6277
Opening hours: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 11 p.m. (Mon. to Fri.); 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Sat.); 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Sun.)
This chain of casual restaurants from Malaysia deserves to be in any list about the best Malaysian food in Singapore. Because it serves all the classics: Penang Char Kway Teow, Dry Ipoh Kway Teow with Prawns + Shredded Chicken, KL Hokkien Mee, Nasi Lemak and Roti Cinai – you’ll find all of these tasty Malaysian foods at PapaRich. For a vegetarian option, try the Nasi Lemak with Impossible Rendang. When it comes to drinks, try the Sirap Bandung + Grass Jelly drink. This rose syrup with condensed milk and grass jelly chunks is like a dessert and a drink, together. If you need dairy-free drinks, you can even get Soy Milk Chendol and Soy Milk Cincau (grass jelly).
Address: Multiple locations
Tel: See website
Opening hours: See website
6. Malaysian Food Street
Malaysian Food Street is a fully air-conditioned eatery in Resorts World Sentosa that’s designed to resemble an open-air food market in Malaysia. With facades that replicate old shophouses, this food court has an old town ambiance, and aims to bring you a roundup of the best Malaysian food in Singapore.
As well as looking like historic Malaysia, the stalls are actually famous hawker brands that have been brought in from Malaysia. Enjoy dishes like the Famous Jalan Alor KL Hokkien Mee, from Kuala Lumpur, Kampung Nasi Lemak, Roti Canai and Nasi Biryani, Penang Lor Bak and Penang Hokkien Prawn Mee.
Don’t forget to pop by Fung Wong Confectionary to try some Malaysian-style pastries. Fung Wong was originally a small business in Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur that made wedding cakes. Now famous throughout Malaysia, it’s known for cakes and celebration pastries for festivals, like the Full Moon Festival. The store also offers unique flavours and confectionary that you can’t find at other bakeries.
Malaysian Food Street
Address: Resorts World Sentosa, 8 Sentosa Gateway, Waterfront, Level 1, 098269
Opening hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Mon.); 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Fri. to Sun.)
7. INDOCAFE – the white house
For some fine dining in a stunning black and white houses in Singapore, check out this Michelin-recommended Peranaken restaurant. The restaurant serves Peranaken or Nonya food – a unique cuisine that’s a mix of Chinese, Malay and Indonesian cuisine, yet also wholely its own. As a starter, try some traditional Keuh Pie Tee ($18), crispy pastry cups filled with shredded turnip, prawns, crabmeat and homemade chili dip.
Mains include Wagyu Beef Rendang ($28), Assam Laksa ($9) or the Nonya Chap Chye, ($14), a dish of braised mixed vegetables with prawns served in fermented bean curd sauce. For a traditional dessert try the Burbur Cha Cha ($10), a traditional Nonya dessert made of cubes of yam, sweet potatoes and banana served in a rich coconut milk sauce.
Fun fact: Peranaken culture is unique to Southeast Asia. It developed when Chinese moved to this part of the world, and married local girls. Over hundreds of years, a unique culture developed that’s mainly a mix of Chinese, Malay and Indonesian influences, with some Western, Indian and Eurasian elements absorbed into the mix.
INDOCAFE – the white house
Address: 35 Scotts Rd., 228227
Tel: 6733 2656
Opening hours: 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. (Tues. to Sun.)
8. Penang Place
Located in the heart of Singapore, Penang Palace was founded by Paul Ooi, who was born an hour’s drive from Penang island. Together with his wife Hannah, he serves up a range of Penang dishes, including some winning dishes based on Penang street foods sold from the island’s famous “Kaki Lima” food stalls. You’ll find Penang hawker favourites including Penang Fruits Rojak ($8.90). It’s won fans for its thick and pungent sauce made of chilli, palm sugar and Hae Ko (thick prawn paste).
Other best sellers include Penang Assam Laksa ($10.90), Penang Hokkien Mee ($10.90), Nasi Lemak, Char Kway Teow and Chendol. This inclusive restaurant even has vegetarian options for its Penang Char Kway Teow ($10.90) and Penang Style Mee Goreng ($10.90)
Fun fact: Kaki Lima are movable hawker stalls that balance on three wooden legs. Add the hawker’s own two legs and you get kaki lima — or “five legs” in Bahasa Malay. If you want to try the best Malaysian food, these stalls are fun to try.
Address: 3 Temasek Blvd., Suntec City Mall West Wing, #02-314/315/316, 038983
Tel: 6467 7003
Opening hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 6 to 9:30 p.m. (Mon. to Sat.); 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9:30 p.m. (Sun.)
9. Violet Oon – ION Orchard
Violet Oon is famous for Peranaken dishes, which can come from Singapore or Malaysia or Indonesia. Roti Jala is one standout Malaysian item on the menu at the ION Orchard outlet. A traditional Malaysian lacy pancake made of coconut milk and flourr, Roti Jala is usually served with a curry.
There’s aren’t too many eateries in Singapore that serve this particular Malaysian dish, because it’s fiddly, and takes time to make. So that’s why we’ve included this restaurant in our curated list of places to find the best Malaysian food in Singapore.
You can also try other Malaysian and Peranaken fusion dishes here, such as Roasted Sarawak Black Pepper Tiger Prawn Pasta ($26), Beef Rendang ($25) or Ayam Buah Keluak ($25), a spicy, tangy, traditional Peranakan dish of buah keluak tree nuts and stewed chicken. This stew is dark black in colour, tastes kind of like truffles and can be very addictive.
This Asian fusion restaurant serves up interesting variations of some classic Malaysian foods. Try the Nasi Goreng Kerbau ($13), fried rice with grilled chicken and mango salad. It’s an upscale variation of the more traditional Nasi Kerbau, which includes Butterfly Pea blue rice.
It may not exactly be the best Malaysian food in Singapore, but another interesting dish to try here is Roti John ($7) – a super-filling fried bread sandwich. Experts are divided about the origins of Roti John. Some say it comes from Singapore, others swear it’s a snack from Kuala Lumpur. Whatever the truth, nowadays you can find Roti John served at every motorway rest stop and hawker centre in Malaysia.
Fun fact: According to Singapore infopedia, Roti John was invented back in the 1960s, in Singapore. An English worker at the Sembawang shipyards asked a local hawker for a hamburger. Since hamburger buns were not available back then, the innovative hawker filled a small loaf with minced mutton and onion, then fried this sandwich in egg.
Apparently the hawker was overheard saying to his customer in Bahasa Malay,“Silakan makan roti, John”, which means “Please eat this bread, John”, or “Please eat this dish, it’s called John’s bread”
Whether you believe this story or not, Roti John is a filling dish, and Malaysians do make it very well.
Address: Joo Chiat Rd., #102, 427396
Opening hours: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. (Tues. to Sun.)
By K Praveena