When it comes to pleasing your foodie clients, it pays to be on top of the latest food trends and the best spots to find them.
But the world has changed, and when the time is right for international travel to resume, travellers will be seeking something more authentic and untapped than the best okonomiyaki in Osaka, or where to gelato hop in Florence.
For something a little more off the beaten track, Malaysia is a treasure trove for immersive and mouth-watering food experiences, rooted in the country’s rich trading history.
Boasting a delicious clash of cultures including Chinese, traditional Malay, Indian, Nyonya and even Portuguese, in combination with the bustle of a thriving street food scene and ultra-Instagram friendly café culture, there is something for even the most intrepid foodies.
Here’s a rundown of unmissable culinary experiences in Malaysia:
First things first: if you’re going to send a client to Southeast Asia, it would be criminal not to include an authentic street food experience, complete with hawkers and at least a few locals shocked that their coveted hidden food spot has been revealed.
Kuala Lumpur is well known for its gourmet restaurants, coffee houses, delicatessens and alfresco cafes, but it is also home to some of the most established street food stalls in the country.
If your clients are new to the street food experience, Jalan Alor is a great start. The entire road is lined with food stalls showcasing a cross-section of Malaysia’s eclectic cuisine.
For something more lively, Petaling street, or Chinatown, is one of the best places in KL to enjoy outdoor dining among the areas beautiful heritage buildings, clan houses and temples.
It also boasts some of Malaysia’s oldest street food stalls like Madam Tang Mua Chi Stall, Koon Kee Wantan Mee and the iconic Sze Ngan Chye Salted Roast Duck.
However, when it comes to Malaysian cuisine, Penang is the place to be. Home of the county’s most famous dishes, asam laksa, char kuay teow and Hokkien Mee, Penang’s capital city Georgetown was dubbed the best food city in Southeast Asia by Lonely Planet.
Boasting 12,000 heritage buildings, Georgetown is scattered with hawker centres where travellers can sample some of the region’s most iconic dishes, like asam laksa, hokkien mee, chee cheong fun, char koay teow, pasembor and mee goreng.
Chowrasta Market is a hotspot for authentic delights and it is said to be tied with Sri Lanka as the best place in the world to buy nutmeg in all its forms.
Standout dishes include tambun biscuits, black Ghee Hiang, 10-ingredient curry puffs, Ais Tingkap and Penang Cendol.
For something completely different, it’s worth paying a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Melaka.
Melaka is famous for its Nyonya cuisine, which came from descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Penang and Melaka.
Nyonya cuisine, named after the Baba Malay word for a Peranakan woman, uses traditional Chinese cooking techniques.
Malaysia’s historic coffee shops, kopitiams, are having a moment. Despite Malaysian’s traditionally favouring tea, kopitiams began springing up in city streets 150 years ago, brought over by migrants from southern China’s Hainan Island.
Fuelled by nostalgia, modernised kopitams are springing up all over the place and are an Instagrammer’s paradise.
Those with a penchant for the colour pink can’t miss Pik Nik, where everything is, you guessed it, pink! Located in Georgetown, the funky café offers comfy couches and rocking chairs as well as delicious caffeinated beverages and modern, western café fare.
If your clients find themselves in Johor Bahru, Bev C Café is the perfect place to while away an afternoon. Also a high-end fashion label, the interior is uber chic and serves cakes and sweet treats that are almost too pretty to eat.
Across the Riau Archipelago, in Kuching, Sarawak, revheads will love Feast and Furious Café. Owned by Alex Wong, one of the pioneers in Malaysia’s jet ski racing arena, the café is decorated with eye-catching motorbikes, cars and scooter collections.
Head to Malaysia’s capital, KL and your clients can enjoy a delicious beverage in what is more akin to a greenhouse than a café. Pokok KL Café is located at the entrance of MAHSA University and is famous for its delightfully natural concept, featuring huge glass panels surrounded by lush greenery.
In KL’s Chinatown, they can find the rustic rattan mirage that is Merchant Lane. The café is a celebration of east meets west, showcasing delicious Malaysian delicacies alongside western-style coffee.
A bit further west, in Klang, Bukku Café is a Japanese-inspired dream. Featuring a delightfully minimalistic design, the café also has a rustic backyard that is perfect for a sundrenched zen moment.