Within a few days, or even hours, of setting foot in Malaysia you quickly begin to realize how central food and beverages are to gathering in modern Malaysian culture. Our Remote Year city hosts, Nik, Rez, and Wan, have done an awesome job of giving us a taste of the various flavors of Kuala Lumpur – from the Lot 10 Hutong underground food stalls to touring the Muslim food quarter and giving us a taste of the Alor Street Food Night Market. The food is a reflection of the vibrant cultural diversity that makes up the city – Thai, Arabian, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian, and Western. It is not uncommon for Malaysians to eat up to six meals a day – breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon noodles, dinner, and a light night hawker snack. The food is generally delicious, filling, and rich! I’ve had my fair share of rice, chicken, peanut sauce, and boiled eggs. Georgetown, Penang is an entirely separate, gastronomic food heaven as well.
As part of our Remote Year program, we had the opportunity to eat a traditional Malaysian meal (Javanese heritage), served on a large banana leaf and eaten on the floor with our hands. In this video, you can see how the food is divided between the group.
One thing that’s certain is that meals are typically a shared experience. Tea is traditionally always offered upon entering a home or, in the case below, upon entering a shop. Here are a few of the Remotes eating outside, eating on the street, or eating at a family style restaurant.
As much as I love the cuisine here in Malaysia, I do miss fresh vegetables and good cheese. The majority of food in Malaysia tends to be fried – chicken, donuts, fishballs. You name it, it’s been dipped in hot oil. Over the past ten days, I have been fighting food poisoning (more on that in a different post!), and all I’ve wanted is food from home. So where did I go? McDonald’s of course! And Starbucks, and the cutest cafe, named The Greyhound Cafe. My roommate and I have also been making use of our kitchen. We’ve concluded it’s best if we make our own salads at home, and I’ve been making breakfast every morning. I typically eat oatmeal with bananas, toast with scrambled eggs, or honeydew melons with Florida’s Natural orange juice and tea.
Coffee is one of my favorite things in the world, and the cafe culture in Malaysia is thriving. A few of my favorite spots in Kuala Lumpur include Feeka, LOKL, and VCR. Given the heat and humidity, iced coffee is usually the way to go!
In the afternoons, the group inevitably ends up on a rooftop bar, like Heli Lounge, or an infinity pool. Our apartment building does have a pool but it’s become somewhat of a competition to find the nicest new infinity pool with views of the city. FACE suites seems to be the current winner! I’m the ghost in the middle below!
Despite Malaysia’s predominantly Muslim culture, there is a lively night scene. Marini’s 57 offers spectacular views of the Petronas Towers and serves excellent cocktails as does Heli Lounge.
Speakeasies and jazz clubs are also all the rage, as far as the bar scene goes. We took in an excellent jazz show at No Black Tie, a small jazz venue located just five minutes from our apartment complex.
Aside from gathering over food, I also love to check out street art in the cities I’m visiting. There is an incredible array of street art across Malaysia. Here are a few snaps from around Georgetown, Penang and Kuala Lumpur.
5 Ways to Explore Your City’s Culinary & Artistic Delights Through a Malaysian Lens
- Try out your local street food or food truck vendor
- Meet a friend at a local coffee shop
- Offer friends and family tea when they come over for a visit
- Set date night at a bar or restaurant with a view
- Organize a family-style meal at an Asian restaurant
- Bonus: Check out the street art in your city
How do you share meals with family or friends?