Malaysia – Malaysian Street Food in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Country: Malaysia
Cuisine: Malaysian/Street food
Last visited: April 24-26, 2010
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Address: all over the streets and KL’s Chinatown
Jalan Petaling on Petaling Street in Chinatown
Price Range: $10 or less (super cheap)

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Recommendations: Air Mata Kucing, Deep Fried Sweet Potato Balls, Malaysian beef/pork jerky, Fruit Rojak, fresh star fruit juice, Apam Balik

My bag of deep fried Malaysian snacks.

After having the traditional and authentic Malaysian food at Madam Kwan’s I decided to continue my food tour of Malaysian cuisine. Madam Kwan’s is a nice and clean restaurant serving Malaysian street food so what better way to draw comparisons than to actually hit the street. I never miss street food when I’m traveling, and thankfully, I’ve never gotten sick from it too. (Touch wood).

I’m eating a deep fried yam.

I’m glad I went to Madam Kwan’s because a lot of the things I didn’t see on the streets. The street food in Malaysia are more snacks (which street food usually is) and they were completely different than what was offered at the restaurant. From a North American perspective, food in general is cheap in Malaysia whether you’re in the restaurant or on the street.

Malaysia’s a tropical country so fresh fruit juices are everywhere. I wouldn’t get coconuts or watermelon juice  on the street though…you may spend more time on the toilet than on the street. Just order them from nicer restaurants or places that look clean – it’s still just as good, fresh and cheap.

If you have the chance to order fresh star fruit juice – do it. You’ll never taste starfruit better than in Malaysia. It’s sweet, very flavourful, thick and just the best!

This is a mobile ice cream truck. I want one!

I need to try both ends of the spectrum to get an idea of what Malaysian food is like at a restaurant versus on the street. What’s considered traditional? And what’s considered good? I had a local, also very good friend, show me around.

See my posts for:
Street food in China
Street food in Korea

My favourite Malaysian street food – Apam Balik.

On the street:

Deep Fried Malaysian Snacks – 2/6

  • Deep fried yams, bananas, potatoes etc. – RM 1 – about $.30CAD
  • Made upon order.

  • I had to get myself a bag of everything they had. They were just super oily and greasy… that’s street food for you!

  • You can find deep fried bananas at a ton of restaurants so I had to try it on the streets. I actually liked it better at restaurants. These were pretty oily and greasy.
  • They have a nice and sweet banana flavour because they use these mini bananas which are delicious.

  • Everything gets fried in kind of old looking/tasting oil so whatever you get kind of tastes like a mix of everything else.

We decided to make our way to Jalan Petaling on Petaling Street in Malaysia’s Chinatown. It was authentic Malaysian food as well as Malaysian-Chinese street food.

**Deep Fried Sweet Potato Balls – 3/6

  • About 10-12 for RM 2 – about $0.70CAD
  • This is a traditional Malaysian snack. It’s mashed sweet potatoes, flour, sugar and water rolled into balls and then deep fried.

They give you about a dozen in a baggy with a toothpick.

  • They’re slightly sweet and very bread like. It was quite doughy for me and I could barely tell it was sweet potato.
  • They’re actually pretty good and they are local favourites. This is something I wouldn’t have tried unless I was taken around by a local – thank god I was!
  • Sometimes they roll them in sesame seeds before frying – I wish they did that here.

**Air Mata Kucing – 5/6

  • Air Mata Kucing means “water of the cat’s eyes” RM 1.20 – about $0.40

  • It’s a very traditional Malaysian drink made from dried longan fruit and rock sugar. Make sure you get with ice – so much better.

  • It’s sweet and aromatic, but not overly sweet and it’s very refreshing. It’s a refreshing fruit nectar tea.
  • It’s supposed to cool you down on a hot day and it really does!

**Malaysian Beef Jerky/Pork Jerky- 6/6

  • This is a must try in Malaysia. These stands are everywhere and not only on the streets.
  • It’s one of their national foods and seriously every stand was good and has their own unique flavour.

  • You can actually watch them barbecuing the meat. It’s the ‘freshest’ beef jerky. After they grill them they do get dried so it still is jerky.

Malaysian beef or pork jerky is so flavourful. It’s soft, chewy and just gets your salivation glands going.

Chinese Burger Stand

  • Chinese burgers RM 4 – about $1.30CAD
  • I think this would be a HUGE money maker in Vancouver, BC. The NEXT “Japadog“. $$$$
  • It’s fresh Malaysian pork or beef jerky put into sandwiches. Sometimes they put egg in it and sometimes pork floss. Looks soooo good!
  • I didn’t try this, but I kind of wish I did now. I just figured it’s something I could easily reinvent at home in Vancouver.

Soya Bean Stand

  • This is a traditonal Chinese drink made out of soya beans.
  • They’re all over Hong Kong as well. I don’t like it though. It tastes like a thick and starchy/beany milk. It’s almost like malted milk.

**Fruit Rojak – 4/6

  • A popular Malaysian snack or salad. It’s a cup of mixed fresh fruit or vegetables topped with Rojak sauce and peanuts.
  • I had a Fruit Rojak with green apples, pears, guava and pineapples.
  • Rojak sauce is a traditional Malaysian sauce that tastes like Chinese Hoisin sauce but much more bold and sour. It’s sweet from sugar, sour from Tamarind, and also spicy from chili. 
  • The taste may be aquired, but if you’re expecting it then you might like it. I did, and I wasn’t! I thought it was delicious. The fruits they used were tart fruits so the sweet and sour Rojak sauce actually complements them really well.

Roasted Chestnuts

  • I know, they’re just roasted chestnuts, but they smelt so good I couldn’t resist a bag.

Malaysian Baked Goods

  • A variety of traditional Malaysian baked goods.
  • Anything green is made from the signature Malaysian dessert ingredient: Pandan.
  • Pandan leaves come from trees that grow in tropical climates in Asia.
  • Pandan tastes quite floral and aromatic and carries a gentle sweetness. It’s not herb tasting but almost like thyme + lemongrass, but not as bold. The flavour is distinct, but also mild. It matches perfectly with coconut.

20 Comments

  • TimeToChow says:

    Nice post in street food. Did u change into walking shoes?
    Japadog make money?? Ooh sounds like a great idea!
    Actually eating jerky with bread is not common outside Malaysia and Singapore Chinese. It is delicious though especially when they are fresh off the charcoal grill.
    I mentioned eating it with bread to the jerky lady at Parker, she just look at me with bewilderment. I prefer eating jerky on it’s own as I find the jerky here don’t go as well with bread. The petaling street jerky u visited is definitely much much better.
    Fyi, some item like apong balik(pancake turnover), goreng pisang(fried banana) have different versions. Depending in ur palate you may like one better than the other. I didn’t see the pic of apong u had. But the fried ubi, pisang u had was more typical of a Malay version with denser batter. There a lighter and sweeter versions that I am sure u would have liked better. Same with the apung. There are thin to thick cooked batter with and assortment of fillings. Just depends on the stall.

  • Mijune says:

    Wow this is great! It’s so nice to hear from someone who really has an insight to Malaysian food… I didn’t see any other fried bananas on the street but now that I know that there’s a version 2… I really want to try it!

    Yes those “Chinese hamburger” things sound DIVINE! I’ll eat pork floss on bread but I never thought about eating jerky on bread since I too eat it alone… but now I’ll try it on bread WITH egg… and butter! 🙂

    Lol nope! I did it all in heels – I don’t really own runners…

  • EnbM says:

    I’m having trouble with my yahoomail and p/w problem so I’m switching to another.

    I’m so glad to see your photo of Air Mata Kucing. Incidentally a friend gave me 2 ‘luohanguo’ and told me to stew it with soup. Now I have a better idea of what to do with them. 🙂 The sign of the stall reads: luohango (Siraitia grosvenorii), dried longan, rock sugar, double-boiled with winter melon. Thanks Mijune, it is worth my while to spend time at your blog. 🙂

  • Mijune says:

    EnbM – thank YOU for taking the time to read my tasty adventures! I love this insight that you and TimeToChow bring to my Malaysian posts. I love learning more about the food there and with both of you giving me such helpful tips… I can’t ask for anything more. I am very thankful for having such great readers!

    PS: Winter melon?…wow had no idea! Couldn’t taste that part at all.

  • EnbM says:

    In your photo, a small water melon is on the left corner in front of the beverage straws. 🙂

  • Christina says:

    this page was the quickest snapshot i could get about foods to look out for in Malaysia. thanks

  • Mijune says:

    @enbM – I see it!

    @christina – woohoo! Thanks for visiting!

  • Paul says:

    Hi all, i enjoyed this article. I am a former Malaysian living and working in Toronto. Any one out there interested in a joint venture to start a Malaysian food store of some sort in Canada? Regards, Paul and Angel

  • kc towkay says:

    Toronto do really need a good Malaysian restaurant/or even a simple food stall serving Malaysian dishes.Perhaps the population is not there!

  • Julian says:

    when I was in KL about 6 years ago, some locals took me a few times to a street which at night is a mass of dim sum stands etc, beer as well, everyone sitting on foldup chairs… I think in daytime it was a street with car traffic – it is apparently very famous… any idea where it is please?

  • Nina says:

    mmmm, everything looks yummy, specialy Deep Fried Sweet Potato Balls!

  • godswill says:

    you are good i kind of like it man

  • godswill says:

    men i like you guys you are cool i wish i can come and eat with you guys before the end of this year

  • tom says:

    fantastique …

  • Muhammad Naeem says:

    I like this page very much I am Bahraini National and I want one Malayisain cook who knows different kind of dishes to cooked. Thank’s

  • Muhammad Naeem Butt says:

    I read about street food and I like sweet Potato balls and I wished to hire one cook from Malyisa if any one wants to work in Bahrain I will send visa to work and gtood money.

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