Perspective of Malaysian Food?


Malaysian food is a significant part of our overseas experience, especially since ISKL is located in Malaysia and its culture surrounds us everyday. Even if, when you first enter the country you are not so fond of the cuisine, can you learn to like it over time? Two students who have lived in Malaysia for varying periods of time share with us their experience and insights on the local food.

Saffira (Nicole) ‘20 is new to ISKL this year and has only lived in Malaysia for around 4 months. Although she had not yet experienced Malaysian food before coming here her expectation was that it would taste like Indonesian food, her home country’s cuisine.

“I thought it would taste like Indonesian food, because they are very closely related in terms of culture. They’re so close in relation and tradition…maybe geographically too.” She even noted the similarity of language between the two countries.

After trying the cuisine throughout the time she’s been here, she shared her disappointment with the sweetness of Malaysian food. “The fact that is looks spicy, but tastes sweet really like, plays with my mind and I don’t really like that.” Despite all this, she would still rate the food 7.8 on a scale of one to ten (ten being the best), and observes that “it’s savory and there’s a lot put into spices” with “some Indian influence mixed in there.”

Saffira is hopeful that the longer she stays here, the more she’ll start to like it. “I’ll be more exposed to the culture and more exposed to different types of Malaysian food. So far my knowledge isn’t that much because I haven’t lived here that long…I think I’ll be more diverse in my food plate and I would start to appreciate the sweet things [that Malaysia offers].”

On the other hand, Gabriel ‘20, who has lived in Malaysia for 5 years and is from Denmark, presents a different take on the local cuisine. Although he wouldn’t call himself a food expert, he’s tasted a lot of food for his age, “more than the average person…I’ve tried a lot of things.”

Malaysian food is very distinct from other cuisines because “there are so many types of different food, within Malaysian food…It’s very diverse, and very different from Europe.” Gabriel claims that “compared to Europe it’s spicy, but compared to Indian food it’s kind of the same level, although you would have to count Indian food into the general Malaysian food,” since he defines Malaysian food as a blend of some Chinese, Indian and Malay cuisine.

Overall, Gabriel gives Malaysian food a 7 out of ten. “It compares barely well, because there is so much to choose from…I generally don’t find it as flavorful or texture-ful as Indian food, and it’s so sweet.” However, according to Gabriel, you can grow to like Malaysia’s local food.

“You may not like kway teow when you come here, but eventually you’ll grow to like it, the same with teh tarik and others”, Gabriel remarks. Besides, “because there’s so much variety, you don’t usually get tired with it. You like it more the longer you stay here.”