With such a diversity of cultures and races comes a wide array of cuisines. That’s the best part of being a Malaysian – if you’re bored with one type of cuisine, you can dive into a completely different one anywhere, anytime. From Chinese and Peranakan to Malay and Indian – there’s a smorgasbord of culinary traditions you can indulge in.
Funnily enough, being exposed to such a huge diversity of dishes all your life doesn’t make you a lover of everything – if anything, you become a discerning connoisseur, with strong opinions about different cuisines, and very particular about what you consume.
That explains why the topic of food can become so sensitive in Malaysia (and some neighboring countries which shall go unnamed), with some debates over whether one dish is better than another, or whether a dish originated in one place or another, raging for years.
Happy to step into this gastronomic landmine, we asked each Hype member to spill the tea (haha) on which Malaysian foods they believe are overrated and underrated. Food fight!
Now, while Nasi Lemak is the national dish of Malaysia, you have to admit, it’s a bit overrated. Before you take out your pitchforks, hear us out. Nasi Lemak as a whole is good, but there’s not much to it. Sure, you can add other ‘lauk’ to make it unique, but the foundation seems overhyped. And let’s be honest, what makes a good Nasi Lemak has to be the sambal, and that would make or break our national dish.
Banana Leaf Rice
One member of our team strongly asserts that Banana Leaf Rice is “nothing special”. Wherever you go, it’s basically the same thing: rice, different variations of curry, the same type of veggies and pappadom. So, as with Nasi Lemak, there’s really not much to it, unless you order add-ons.
Ice Kacang And Cendol
These are among Malaysians’ favourite desserts, and yet, everyone agrees that good ones are so hard to find. Every time you pass an Ice Kacang or Cendol store, you have to gamble on whether to get some or not, because more often than not, it sucks.
Anything Nasi Goreng
Nasi Goreng is basically just rice covered in whatever concoction you’re making that day. It’s nothing new and most of the time, can be pretty bland. It’s a good meal to fill up your tummy when you want to save cash, but not the first thing you think of when you’re eating at a restaurant.
Char Kuey Teow
Of all the noodle dishes out there, Char Kuey Teow is, hands down, the most BASIC. You can only eat it when it’s hot or else, it’ll just clump together. Plus, sometimes, there’s just too much taugeh, which makes your dining experience total crap.
One Hype team member thinks that Curry Laksa is overrated solely for the reason that it’s oily. Weird, considering that you have a bowl full of milky curry broth, coating each strand of egg noodle. Could be that this person has never tasted good Curry Laksa.
Char Kuey Teow
One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. A Hype team member worships Char Kuey Teow and the plates its served on. It’s savoury, spicy and packs a flavourful punch in just a bite. You get everything, from the small chunks of egg to the noodles and the crunchiness of the taugeh.
Pink Steamed Bun
One Hype team member said that this small and pillowy pink bun is the ultimate Chinese bao. It’s soft, warm and sweet, and makes you feel like you’re being cuddled. They also said that the chewiness of the Hei Ban is what makes this kueh so good and delicious.
Lo Mai Chi
It’s messy upon the first bite, but the burst of flavour you get makes the messiness worth dealing with. It’s chewy and the inside is filled with peanuts and sugar, a delicacy unlike any other.
While everyone goes crazy for Ketupat during Eid, Lemang is where it’s at. It’s a great foundation for rendang and it’s much more hearty than any Ketupat out there. Plus, you can eat so much of it and not get full easily.
A staple at every pasar malam and Bazaar Ramadhan, Roti John is best eaten as an appetizer before your hearty meal. The fact that Roti John is widely looked down upon is disheartening. In just a bite, you get to revel in a mixture of sauces, the bread, the egg and the beef. It’s so good, we can’t wait for Ramadhan to come back.
Zongzi is a seasonal food that only appears at certain times of the year – much to the despair of another Hype team member. Wrapped in bamboo leaves, Zongzi is steamed to perfection with the glutinous rice completely soaked with flavors from the filling. It’s delicious, savoury and sticky, and with every bite, you’ll be wanting more.
So, what do you think of our choices? What do you think are overrated and underrated Malaysian foods?
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