10 Unique Food To Try in Melaka and Penang

Which is Better, Penang Food or Melaka Food? Here are 10 Dishes To Help You Decide

According to wise men, there are only three things that are certain in this world: death, taxes, and good Malaysian food.

This leads us to the question: which state in Malaysia has the best food? In this article, we’re gonna highlight two states that are very proud of their cuisine – Penang and Melaka. We’re not talking about your usual satay celup, nasi kandar and char kuey teow, but more unique and exciting dishes that you may have missed.

5 Unique Foods in Penang That Only Locals Would Know

1. Cup Rice (Gai Fun)

Image: whm0426

This dish gets its name from the aluminium bowl that the rice is steamed in. When the rice is perfectly cooked, it is turned over on a plate, maintaining the shape of the aluminium bowl. The fluffy white rice is then topped with a deliciously thick soy sauce mixture of pork, chicken and vegetables. When the rice soaks up the meaty sauce, you can dig in. And of course being a total Malaysian, the best accompaniment to the dish is a small plate of cili padi with kicap. Your perfect lunchtime meal!   

2. Pulau Aman Seafood

Image: Chew Win Win

Although it is only an islet off Penang, Pulau Aman is a fantastic place to go if you’re a seafood lover. One of the more popular dishes on the island among the locals is mee udang. Egg noodles are wok-fried in a thick and spicy gravy and then topped with generous amounts of succulent fresh prawns. Yummeh! For those of you who like your seafood untainted, try the fresh oysters or the boiled langoustines, with some cili padi and kicap, all we can say is…syiok giler!!!

3. Black Sugar Pau

Image: Chew Win Win

With a rich and thick dark-coloured filling inside a fluffy light brown bun, this dessert pau is definitely a local favourite. The filling consists of brown sugar that has been cooked to a caramel consistency and then stuffed into the paus. The most popular place to have these sweet paus, also known as brown sugar paus, is in Balik Pulau but be warned, to savour these delicious treats, you must be willing to queue in the blistering island heat. But rest assured, once you sink your teeth into those soft brown buns, all your cares will simply fade away!

4. Ais Tingkap

Image: Chew Win Win

Literally translated to window ice, its name is said to have originated from its first vendor who sold it through his shop window. Fresh coconut water, which is scented with rose water, and given a slightly pink hue thanks to red food colouring is the base of ais tingkap. Chunky coconut flesh is added to the drink and for extra bite, a dollop of basil seeds. Some versions even have hints of lemongrass and cinnamon. Ais tingkap is known for its cooling properties and quite rightly, one of the best beverages to savour at the end of a day of sightseeing.

5. Nutmeg Juice

Image: Chew Win Win


You’ve probably eaten preserved nutmeg and candied nutmeg that almost everyone brings home from their Penang trip. Have you, however, had nutmeg juice? While it has a slightly medicinal taste, a tall glass of cold nutmeg juice is no less refreshing to combat the island heat. What’s more, bars across the island are taking pride in their home-grown fruit and using the juice in exciting new cocktails!

5 Unique Foods in Melaka That Only Locals Would Know

1. Otak Otak Pizza

Image: Relish The Moment Cafe

Otak otak is a favourite local dish, similar to fish mousse, with plenty of herbs and spices and traditionally steamed in banana leaves. At Relish the Moment Cafe, they have taken this humble dish and elevated it by making it into a pizza topping and then adding generous amounts of mozzarella cheese. Otak otak – yum!, cheese – yum! Put them together and double yum!!

2. Durian Bombs

Image: Durian Cottage

Durian bombs are crunchy rice crispy balls filled with deliciously sweet durian jam. The crispy coating against the velvety durian cream is a match made in heaven. If you’re a durian lover, this is a dessert you must definitely try! We promise, you won’t regret it.

3. Beetroot Bread

Image: Eat at 18

You’re probably wondering, “Who on earth goes to Melaka to have pastries??” and while that may be true, you still should not discount Eat at 18. All that rich Malaysian food can do a number on your tummy so you’ll need some good ol’ carbs to settle down the tums. The pinkish loaves are soft and fluffy and you can eat them with anything, or just on their own. Either way, they’re just as delicious. Other offerings here include organic parmesan cheese rolls, pumpkin loaves and even walnut raisin blue bread. Plus, if you’re feeling indulgent, the honey jam tarts are definitely a sinful treat. You ARE on holiday after all!

4. Kuih Keria

Image: nurulmazriqiesyaqyraqelya9

It may look like a doughnut but kuih keria has a denser texture as it is made from a combination of sweet potatoes and flour, and then deep fried. The icing on the cake, or in this case, doughnut, is gula Melaka (thick chocolate-brown palm sugar) syrup. These kuihs are doused with the yummy sticky liquid and then left aside to cool and harden. The result is a crunchy sugary crust over pillowy sweet potato doughnuts. And believe us when we say, one will NEVER be enough!

5. Soft Shell Crab, Chicken, Lamb and Beef Burgers

Image: Oblong Burger Station KG 8

Picture this: a crispy soft shell crab on a salad bed and then sandwiched between two fluffy charcoal buns. The crunchiness of the crab is a perfect complement to the soft buns and the addition of chilli sauce and mustard makes eating this burger a messy but awesomely delicious treat. This is just the tip of the iceberg. At Oblong Burger Station, You can find every kind of burger imaginable from towering deep-fried chicken burgers to yummy meatball sliders.

We’re sure you have your favourites too. So which state has the best food? Tell us on our Facebook page.


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Greg takes joy in writing press releases and has an almost unhealthy obsession with Sydney and nasi lemak.

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