[Learn Malay] Lesson 3: Ordering Food and Drink


I bet Malaysia’s world-renowned street food culture is one of the reasons why you have chosen to come to Malaysia.

Several cities – KL, Penang and Melaka – are known to have great hawker stalls which the locals flock to and would stand for hours in line to get a taste of their favorite cheap but really good food like Nasi Lemak, Banana Leaf Rice, Char Kuey Tiaw, Rojak, Chicken Rice, Nasi Kandar, to name just a few.

It might be easy to just go up to a hawker stall and point at the picture of what you want to order. But do you know what the title and description of the food really say? Do you know if it’s spicy or not? Can you customize your food, for example, by getting them to tone it down on the chili or sugar. Speaking of which, drinks that you order at hawker stalls often come with added sugar so it might be wise to always say “kurang gula” which means “less sugar” every time you get an iced tea or even juices!

In this lesson, I cover:

  • Makanan – Food
  • Minuman – Drink
  • Bolehkah saya pesan…? – Can I order…?
    • Nasi lemak – a local rice dish with rice cooked in coconut milk as well as anchovies, peanuts, egg and sambal on the side
    • Roti canai – Indian flat bread known aka pratha
    • Nasi goreng – Fried rice (there are many different styles of fried rice, which you would discover when you look at the menu! Interesting options include Nasi goreng USA, Nasi goreng Tom Yum, Nasi goreng kampung, etc.)
    • Mi goreng – Fried noodles/mee
    • Ayam goreng – Fried chicken
    • Ikan bakar – Grilled fish
    • Teh tarik – “Pulled” tea
    • Kopi-O – Black coffee
    • Air – Water
    • Jus oren – Orange juice
    • Jus mangga – Mango juice
  • Kurang / Lebih – Less / More
    • Pedas – Spicy
    • Masin – Salty
    • Sejuk/ais – Cold/iced
    • Manis – Sweet
    • Panas – Hot
  • Sedap – Delicious

For detailed explanations, please check out my video:

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