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The Best Malaysian Restaurants in NYC

August 7, 2018 - by Merrill Lee Girardeau
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The Southeast Asian country of Malaysia has a few faithful representatives on the New York restaurant scene, but these few are mighty. Malaysian food features flavors you’ll recognize from the cuisines of nearby nations like Thailand, Vietnam, China, and India. So expect flavorful soups chock-full of meat, seafood, veggies, and noodles, plus ingredients like rice, egg, coconut milk, and cucumber (a common garnish). Head to one of these New York Malaysian spots to try out some delicious dishes!

Best Malaysian Food NYC: Chinatown


A tiny coffee shop in Chinatown, Kopitiam offers highly affordable Malaysian breakfast food, as well as lunch, dinner, and your afternoon coffee. The runaway hit of the breakfast menu is Kaya Butter Toast: two pieces of buttered bread with kaya spread in between (that’s coconut milk, eggs, sugar, and sweet pandan leaf). Order that with a heavenly Kopi Tarik Coffee, and you’ll be a happy camper. The best savory meal options include Chilled Spicy Sesame Noodle, Pulut Inti (blue sticky rice with coconut), and Nasi Lemak (rice dish with anchovies). 51 B Canal St., 646-894-7081

Best Malaysian Food NYC: East Village

LoveMama spreads the love among Thai, Vietnamese, and Malaysian food, all three of which have their own menus at this ambitious East Village restaurant. The model works, though, whether you want to mix cuisines or have all courses coming from one menu. We’ll stick with the Malaysian offerings here: along with the obligatory Roti Canai (very good here), starters you won’t want to miss are the Malaysian Chicken Satay Shish Kebab and Mango Salad. Popular entrees are the Mee Goreng noodles (similar flavors to pad thai) and Rendang Nasi Lemak with rice, curry, anchovy, and pineapple. Though they have some killer Thai iced tea, go for the best Malaysian beverage option: Hand-pulled Milk Tea. 174 Second Ave., 347-394-5085

Best Malaysian Food NYC: Little Italy

Come to Little Italy for what is by most correspondents' views the best Malaysian in Manhattan. Their roti appetizer (a thin crispy pancake with curry sauce for dipping) is a must, as are noodle dishes like the spicy, seafood-y Chow Kueh Teow and the Indian Mee Goreng with tofu, peanut, and squid sauce. If you’re more of a noodles-in-broth person, do the Clay Pot Noodles with squid, chicken, and vegetables. The Malaysian spare ribs will do the trick if you’re looking for the best meat dish. 199 Grand St., 212-334-3669,

Best Malaysian Food NYC: Chinatown

Although Wok Wok claims general Southeast Asian inspiration, it derives many of its dishes and flavors from those of Malaysia. A simple dining room, one focal point is the shelf full of ingredients like sriracha sauce, coconut milk, and dried noodles for Malaysian cooking in your own home. Start with the Golden Soft Shell Crab. Their slow-roasted Hainanese Chicken is a staple of Malaysian cooking and a great choice for sharing. The Penang White Curry Laksa and Malaysian BBQ Pork Chop with coconut rice are big hits as well. For a sweet drink, try the Milo, hot or iced. 11 Mott St., 917-388-3627,

Best Malaysian Food NYC: Greenwich Village


Rasa brings Malaysian flavor to Greenwich Village. Their thoughtful take on the country’s rich cuisine is best showcased in the Nasi Kerabu (fried chicken drumstick with veggies and blue rice) and Penang Assam Laksa (fish and lemongrass broth with chilli, tamarind, vermicelli noodles, and pineapple). Staples like roti canai, nasi lemak, and pulut inti make appearances on this menu as well, with flavors that definitely measure up to the competition. 25 W. 8th St., 212-254-1888,

Best Malaysian Food NYC: Queens

As tasty, authentic Malaysian slowly makes its way over to Manhattan, you’ll find some of the best on the eastern end of Queens in the meantime. Go to Elmhurst and try Taste Good Malaysian Cuisine, a crazy-cheap place with pictures of the menu items covering opposite walls of the restaurant. Featuring plenty of animal protein (as most Malaysian food does), the menu serves up amazing beef in the form of grilled skewers and fall-apart Beef Rendang. Other standouts include the crispy fish cake and Singapore Kari Laksa, a curry noodle soup with tofu and shrimp and plenty of aromatic spices. Yum! 82-18 45th Ave., 718-898-8001

Best Malaysian Food NYC: Queens


Check out Malay Restaurant’s hole-in-the-wall charm in Flushing, Queens and get ready for an amazing meal. Start with the essentials: Roti Canai and the satay sampler with delectable peanut dipping sauce. For main courses, you can’t go wrong with the house special pork with yam, Drunken Chicken, or Chinese sausage fried rice. The curry chow fun with seafood and noodles is another all-around winner. 135-17 40th Rd., 718-353-2901,

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