9 Food Pairings That Will Make You Say, “Super Malaysian”

butter kaya toast
Photo credit: Miss Tam Chiak

Some foods taste good by themselves, but most of them taste better when paired with certain condiments or even other types of food. Most Malaysian foods are eaten in pairs, or even trios – which is what makes our local food so rich in flavour.

What is perceived as common here may draw attention overseas, especially if you’re studying or working abroad. It’s also one of the little things that help you identify a fellow Malaysian in a foreign land. This often gets us excited.

So in conjunction with Merdeka, here are some food pairings that will make you point and say, “That’s so Malaysian!”:

1. Thick slabs of butter and kaya

roti bakar kaya butter
Photo credit: Eizil

A classic breakfast. The thicker the butter slab, the better. Malaysians can get quite upset if you stinge on the butter or the kaya. While people of other nations enjoy butter with jam or fruit preserves, we enjoy slabs of butter with coconut-egg spread.

2. Eggs and soy sauce

eggs soy sauce
Photo credit: Patrick Yan

Fried eggs go with soy sauce. Hard-boiled eggs go with soy sauce. Eggs in all forms go well with soy sauce – fondly known as kicap here.

3. Soft boiled eggs, soy sauce, and pepper

soft boiled eggs soy sauce pepper
Photo credit: Hungry Onion

This is the holy trinity. Whether you like more soy sauce with less pepper, or more pepper with a bit of soy sauce, or you need equally as much of both – we can all agree that these condiments are the secrets to making eggs taste better.

4. Roti and curry

roti canai curry
Photo credit: Where Jess Ate

You can’t have one without the other. Some prefer to have it with dhal, and others with sugar. The popular curries include fish curry, chicken curry, and mutton curry. You need curry to go with your roti canai, otherwise it just feels… empty.

5. Satay and kuah kacang

satay kuah kacang
Photo credit: Alfred Kee

We almost never eat satay by itself – it must be dipped in the rich and creamy peanut sauce we call kuah kacang. While the idea of dipping barbecued meat skewers into what they might think is peanut butter, it’s something we’re so used to and can’t live without.

6. Soy sauce and chopped chilli

chilli soy sauce
Photo credit: Jeanette’s Healthy Living

Malaysians may complain about the heat and the weather, but we love some heat in our food. We do this at every Chinese restaurant: scoop some chopped red or green chilli onto our saucers, and pour a generous amount of soy sauce to it. It goes well with almost everything.

Bonus: we sometimes add chopped garlic to it too!

7. Soy milk and cincau

soya cincau
Photo credit: Blog Santai

Usually called soya cincau, it also has a quirky nickname – Michael Jackson, named after one of his famous hits, Black or White. We don’t think we’ve seen this combination anywhere else.

8. Coffee and Milo

nescafe milo neslo
Photo credit: The Solo Traveller

Particularly Nescafé coffee and Milo. It’s the Malaysian version of a mocha – coffee with a hint of chocolate malt from our favourite energy drink.

9. Meat floss and mayo

meat floss mayo bread
Photo credit: Yin’s Homemade

No idea who came up with pairing mayonnaise (a sauce that originated from Spain) and meat floss (a Chinese food), but it’s genius. The sourness of the mayo and sweetness of the meat floss go so well together.

Hungry for some local goodies? Instead of pasta and pastries, let’s go full-on Malaysian for your upcoming party! Kaodim.com’s caterers are experts at Malaysian cuisine. Let them know what you want to have for your next event here, and we’ll take care of the rest! Expect to see quotations and profiles from us soon after you submit the form!


written by Esther Chung


2 comments Add yours
  1. There’s a name for Nescafe+Milo = Neslo.
    There was a square of food stalls in SS15 Subang Jaya in the late 80s/early 90s where I first ordered it.
    I can’t remember which stall it was but the guy suggested I try mixing those 2 & he called it Neslo.
    That was the first time i heard of that coined name or even come across that drink. I can’t recall the exact year but earliest would’ve been 1989 & latest would’ve been 1991.
    Any other earlier anecdotes as to how, when, who came up with this?
    Btw, I tried mixing Nescafe + Milo while abroad – it’s just wasn’t the same…

    1. Wow, Neslo definitely sounds like an interesting combination! We wish we knew the original creator of Neslo, but we figured someone must have been craving both Nescafe and Milo, couldn’t decide between the two and decided to have them both. 😉

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