When looking for a place to eat in Malaysia you have to leave your western ideas behind. The best place to eat is more often than not the one that looks old, worn, has plastic chairs, no table cloths and an open air kitchen with woks that look ancient.
I had some issues about the look of the restaurants when first coming to Asia in 2007, I later realised I used my Western eyes and looked for other factors. Back home, the nicer restaurants usually spend a lot of money on the interiors, fancy furnitures and what not. In Malaysia, I have had great meals sitting on a battered plastic chair, eating off a plastic plate.
We are lucky to live in a small village that has quite a few good restaurants. Musa serves awesome satay and his chicken soup is to die for. The stock has been boiling forever and after eating a bowl of Musa’s soup you will go home smiling.
You will also find a restaurant named Hana Maju after its owner and head chef. We eat there a lot, she is an excellent cook and also very nice and friendly. If you are unsure of what to order, just ask and she will guide you through the menu.
The menu, yes that is also interesting. In Sweden we usually have two varieties of nasi goreng (fried rice), one with chicken and one without. Here, you have anywhere from five to endless varieties to choose from. Nasi goreng china is not spicy, nasi goreng kampung is more spicy and have lots of ikan bilis (dried anchovies). I love nasi goreng kampung and my youngest daughter loves the ikan bilis. I usually end up with only a few fish left on my plate, the rest is on hers and she munches away happily. Some nasi goreng comes with a fried egg on the side, some have chicken, others have beef. All of them have vegetables, but what kind varies.
More often than not the menu is a sign next to the kitchen, sometimes they have a printed version as well. At some restaurants you have to ask what they serve as there are no menus at all. Nasi goreng and mee (noodle) dishes are always a sure bet if you want something filling, fresh and satisfying. It might not be the most experimental dishes but they will not disappoint you.
I am still clueless as to why the Malaysians eat at KFC, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and other chain restaurants from West. Not only is the food very bland but a lot more expensive than at other places, a family eating at KFC will pay at least double.
So if you want good, authentic food, look for the plastic chairs and stay away from the chain restaurants and the posh looking ones.