Save yourself a trip to Kuala Lumpur and Malacca, because you can find authentic Malaysian-style dishes here like char kway teow, ramly burgers and chicken rice balls
To the uninitiated, Malaysian and Singaporean cuisines may seem rather similar, but the devil is in the details – from the light, tangy, Assam-style laksa, to the subtly salty and spicier Penang-style char kway teow, and even the herbal, less-peppery broth found in bak kut teh. But really, the best way to understand these nuances is to try these stellar dishes yourself with our round up of Singapore’s best restaurants and stalls to find Malaysian food.
One of the bastions of Malay cuisine, Mamanda is an establishment that promises to treat diners like Sultans. Here, you’ll feast on authentic Malaysian delicacies like beef in sweet black sauce, spicy grilled chicken in Bedahara style, jackfruit in coconut gravy and the aromatic lemongrass honeyed chicken. The restaurant also prides itself on Malay hospitality, so expect stellar service all around. Like many Malaysian restaurants, there’s a focus on communal dining, so if you’re in a group, it’s well worth checking out the three distinct communal dining set menus.
Mamanda, 73 Sultan Gate, Singapore 198497. p. 6396 6646.
As a food-chaser who lived and grew up in the East, our editor can tell you that this homely haunt of Malaysian kampong cuisine has been here forever! Regulars always return for its signature fried calamari, and you can even ask for ridiculous yet sinful hybrid dishes like seafood kway teow goreng pattaya – think flat noodles mixed with fried seafood and wrapped in an omelette drenched in ketchup. Body says no… but appetite says YES!
Mas-Ayu Restaurant, 55 Upper East Coast Road, Singapore 455215, p. 6449 2844.
Malaysian Food Street
If crossing the causeway is a little too much trouble for you, cross the link bridge to Sentosa instead for a smorgasbord of Malaysian dishes. The real challenge here is choosing between mouthwatering dishes like KL claypot rice, Penang hokkien mee and klang bak kut teh. Also of note is the elusive Malacca style chicken rice ball (It’s like regular chicken rice, except the rice is perfectly moulded into plump bite-sized balls).
Malaysian Food Street, Sentosa, Sentosa Gateway.
Penang Seafood Restaurant
Malaysian zi char style dining is your best bet if you really want to sample the breadth of Malaysian cuisine. Head here with a coupla mates and order several bowls of sambal clams, Penang char kway teow and of course, the restaurants much lauded Penang Assam laksa. You’ll also get to fill your bellies with other regional zi char favourites like Assam steamed red grouper, prawn paste chicken and, if you’re up for something a little on the wild side, sauteed crocodile fin.
Penang Seafood Restaurant, 76 Lorong 25A Geylang, Singapore 388258. p. 6841 3002.
Princess Terrace Café
For close to 50 years, Princess Terrace Café at Copthorne King’s Hotel has been the place to go for lovers of authentic Peranakan cuisine. The restaurant’s Penang Heritage buffet offers such traditional treasures like Penang laksa, popiah, kueh pie tee and freshly grilled satays. And we’re just scraping the tip of the iceberg here. But before you pick up that third helping of satay, save some space in your belly for desserts; The buffet boasts one of the most comprehensive collections of nyonya kuehs like apom bokwa, ang ku kueh.
Princess Terrace Cafe, 403 Havelock Road, Singapore 169632. p. 6733 0011.
Sin Heng Claypot Bak Kut Teh
Sin Heng serves their creations in a claypot and when you tuck into a bowl of piping hot BKT, you’ll notice that the broth is surprisingly a lot lighter than usual. For a bit of Malaysian flavour, opt for the more Herbal Malaysian Hokkien version of the dish at Sin Heng. The restaurant opens late, so if you’re looking to fill your bellies with hot, flavoursome soup, Sin Heng’s your best bet for a late night supper.
Sin Heng Claypot Bak Kut Teh, 439 Joo Chiat Rd, Singapore 427652, p. 6345 8754.
If you find yourself pinching pennies near the end of the month, but want something a little more upscale than your usual hawker fare, Penang Culture’s your best bet for quick, casual Penang nosh. Penang Culture aims to bring together a variety of authentic Penang hawker fare in a single dining establishment at the best airport in the world. The menu runs the gamut of Penang fare from Assam fish head curry and Assam laksa, to Penang char kway teow and Penang Hokkien prawn noodles.
Penang Culture, Changi Airport Terminal 2 Departure, #036-087-01 Viewing Mall, Level 3, Singapore 819643.
Malaysian Local Delights
Communal dining is big in Asian cuisine, and if you’re after a Malaysian feast with the whole family, head down to this Katong stalwart for something a little different from the usual Chinese steamboat and sukiyaki dinners. The lok lok (think Malaysian satay) buffet lets diners choose from array of skewered meats and seafood that’s dunked in a pot of boiling broth, then dipped in a variety of sauces. While ostensibly a Malaysian style of dining, the broth selection includes some non-Malaysian options like Sichuan mala, spicy kimchi and tom yum, so feel free to mix things up a little.
Malaysian Local Delights, 224 Tanjong Katong Road, Singapore 437014, p. 6440 8378.
Katong (Peter) Fried Kway Teow
While not solely a Malaysian food stall, this joint in Katong makes this list for serving up a rather hard-to-find Penang variant of this greasy comfort food. The Penang-style char kway teow uses thinner strands of flat rice noodles and is cooked in a savoury, spicy broth rather than the sweet black sauce most of us are familiar with. But like the Singaporean variant, Peter’s rendition of the dish includes generous portions of prawn, cockles, fish cake and Taiwan sausage, along with the absolutely essential ‘wok hei’ taste that we know and love.
Katong (Peter) Fried Kway Teow, 6 Tanjong Pagar Plaza, Singapore 081006. p. 9817 3079.