Experiences - Asia

9 Authentic Malaysian Chinese Dishes You Must Eat

All over the world Chinese food is loved by one and all for its unique taste and the varieties it has to offer. Chinese Malaysian cuisine is no different, with a hint of China, a bit of Indian and a touch of Malay in every bite it is sure to leave you craving for more.

The influence of Chinese Malaysian food is largely derived from Southern China which also incorporates Malay and Indian influences.

With a vast variety, Malaysian Chinese dishes have a special skill and technique of preparation that stands out boldly representing their culture and customs. Chinese cuisine in Malaysia is mainly Cantonese, Hokkien, Hainanese, Teochew and Hakka styles of cooking. It is generally milder compared to Malay or Indian food.

However, Chinese cuisine in Malaysia, has taken on a zesty touch, often reinventing classic Chinese dishes. Many Chinese dishes that are unique in Malaysia are not found in China. Chilies are used frequently to bestow fiery hotness to many of its dishes.

Chinese food is generally mild in taste, the Malaysian Chinese however, have innovated and produced dishes with a dash of Indian and Malay cooking, creating food that can be equally as spicy.

Chicken and pork is quite common and Chinese food is probably the most varied in Malaysia and best of all. Some of the Chinese Malaysian are non-halal since it uses pork in the dishes. However, if you are looking for halal food, it is better to check the ingredients before eating them.

Here are 9 authentic Chinese Malaysian dishes you must eat:


Bah Kut Teh


Image Courtesy: Charles Haynes used under the Creative Commons Licence

One of the most popular and authentic Chinese – Malaysian dish that originated in Klang, Selangor is the Bah Kut teh. It is interesting to note that it was invented by a food hawker, Bah Kut Teh was known to supplement the meagre diet of coolie workers along the port and as a tonic to boost their health.

Bah Kut Teh in English means Pork Rib Tea and is a popular herbal soup usually served for breakfast as an invigorating tonic to start the day. Pork ribs are long simmered in herbs and spices which include star anise, cinnamon, cloves, dang gui, fennel seeds and garlic for hours and cooked with shitake mushrooms. The tea refers to the strong oolong Chinese tea which is usually served alongside the soup which is known to dilute the fat in the pork. Bak kut teh is usually eaten with rice or noodles and served with cha kueh for dipping into the soup.

There’s also a chicken version called Chi Kut Teh which is popular in Malaysia.


Hainan Chicken Rice


Image Courtesy: Naotake Murayama used under the Creative Commons Licence

One of the most sought-after meals, from Hainan in China is the Hainan Chicken Rice, a ubiquitous dish where the chicken is poached slowly and allowed to cool to room temperature and cut up into bite-sized pieces. The rice is cooked with the chicken broth and garnished with cucumbers, scallions and cilantro along with a dipping sauce made of red chilies, garlic, ginger and lime juice.


Hokkien Mee

Penang-Hokkien Mee-malaysian-chinese-dishes


Hokkien Mee originated in Kuala Lumpur and the dish is made of thick yellow noodles braised and fried with thick black soy sauce and crispy lardons. Hokkien Mee is a signature dish in and is more specific to the region of Penang. It is made with egg and rice noodles, stir-fried with pork, eggs, prawns and squid which is garnished with vegetables along with sambal sauce. There are two kinds of Hokkien; the one served in Penang is called Hokkien har mee (Hokkien prawn noodles) and Hokkien mee (Hokkien fried noodles) is served in Kuala Lumpur has dark/black gravy on it. Penang’s Prawn Mee noodle soup is also a famous one.





Image Courtesy: bionicgrrrl used under the Creative Commons Licence

Bakkwa, originated from the Fujian province in China where it is considered a Hokkien delicacy. It is a sweet-salty dried meat similar to jerky made with beef, pork or mutton, which are prepared with spices, sugar, salt and soy sauce and a meat preparation technique originating from China. Bakkwa is usually eaten during Chinese New Year in Malaysia and is known to be sweeter than its original counterpart.


Yong Tau Foo


Image Courtesy: Alpha used under the Creative Commons Licence

Originally developed in Selangor, it is a localised adaptation of a Hakka dish called ngiong tew foo (stuffed tofu with ground pork paste) and is usually served in a clear broth. Tau Foo in Chinese means tofu  and Yong means fish so its tofu in Fish Mousse. Vegetables like bitter gourd, red chilies and zucchini are deep fried and stuffed with a fish mousse which is then steamed and served with a dipping sauce.


Wonton Mee


Image Courtesy: Phil Lees used under the Creative Commons Licence

Wonton Noodles, are thin egg noodles, blanched in boiling water. A clear soup broth is poured over the noodles  and garnished with wontons (pork dumplings) and char siu sauce. Wonton Mee is also served dry, usually with a small bowl of soup on the side.




Image Courtesy: Phil Lees used under the Creative Commons Licence

A vegetable filling of bangkuang (jicama),carrots, tofu and bean sprouts are rolled in a rice paper wrapper with minced prawns, fried shallots and lettuce served with a sweet and hot chili sauce.It is sometimes deep fried. crepe stuffed and rolled up with cooked shredded tofu and vegetables like turnip and carrots. The Peranakan version contains bangkuang (jicama) and bamboo shoots, and the filling is seasoned with tauchu (fermented soybean paste) and meat stock.




Popularly eaten during Chinese New Year, this dish originated in Kuala Lumpur, it consists of raw fish tossed at the dining table with shredded vegetables, with a combination of sauces and condiments. Yusheng literally means ‘raw fish’ but since and is known to symbolise abundance  and hence Yúshēng is consumed for abundance of prosperity and wealth.


Lok Lok



Image Courtesy: Isriya Paireepairit used under the Creative Commons Licence

Looks very similar to a Fondue is a variant of a steamboat or hotpot where the ingredients are skewered and dipped into selected broths to cook and then eat off the sticks directly. Fresh seafood like shrimp, squid, fish balls and other delicacies are skewered on bamboo sticks. The word Lok-lok is derived from the Chinese word for getting scalded in hot water, which means while you are dipping, you say lok lok.

Other authentic Chinese Malaysian dishes include o’chien, Char Kway Teow, Chilli crab, Kai Lan with Oyster sauce and Chee Chong Fun along with a host of other Malaysian Street foods that include Chinese Malaysian dishes.

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