Non-Spicy Food in Malaysia – Malaysian Food You Should Try

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Malaysia is an eater’s paradise, but finding non-spicy food in Malaysia for kids is a concern for some parents. That’s why I listed up some of our favorite types of Malaysian food that everyone can enjoy. This isn’t all of of the great food in Malaysia — just the most accessible dishes that don’t catch tongues on fire.

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love Penang hawker center

Recommended Food in Malaysia For Kids

Yes, much of Southeast Asia has a love affair with peppers and cooks them into most dishes. Lots of food in Malaysia fits this description, as well. Personally, I love the heat in some Malaysian food (especially in some of old-school Nasi Melayu), but I have one child who is completely averse to cuisine with any spice levels, so while we lived in Penang, finding non-spicy Malaysian food was a priority.

Below I list up some of our favorite food in Malaysia for kids. This isn’t a complete list of Malaysian cuisine — that would take much, much longer (and would make my stomach growl). Instead, this is a list of common Malaysian foods that can be found with little to no spice content.

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Food in Malaysia for Kids Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love PIN 1

A Short Introduction to Malaysian Food

Malaysian food is a multiethnic, multicultural mix of influences. Thanks to decades of immigration and assimilation, Malaysian food incorporates countless flavors and dishes from China, India, and Sri Lanka. However, any local would tell you that these foods are unequivocally Malaysian. Then there are the Southeast Asian flavors of Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia, of course, as well as Western imports. You will have no problem finding pizza, burgers, and chicken wings.

Some of the best places to find great Malaysian food for kids are at hawker centers. Like in Singapore, hawker centers are large networks of individually-run food stands. Each stand has a specialty, and that’s basically all he/she makes. More on hawker stalls later — for now, let’s talk about some of the best food in Malaysia for kids.

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love Kuala Lumpur dim sum 2

Our Favorite Non-Spicy Food in Malaysia

Ok, listen up, when you visit Malaysia, keep an eye out for the following dishes, but first:

DISCLAIMER: I cannot guarantee that the Malaysian food you are served will be non-spicy. Many places serve their own unique recipe and these dishes vary across Malaysia. That said, it’s my opinion that you’re safer choosing these Malaysian foods listed below than many others.

Remember that curries and sambal (chile paste) are often used as condiments. It’s not hard to find an English speaker in places like Penang, Malacca, and Kuala Lumpur, so simply ask about the spice levels. What they consider “not spicy” may not match you, but be respectful and ask for food without additional spices or condiments.

Roti

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love ROTI CANAI

Out of all the food in Malaysia for kids, this is our top pick. Originating in India, this flatbread is one of the most versatile Malaysian foods there is.

Hell, I could write an entire post on the multiple roti variations available across Malaysia. To start, you have roti canai, which is served plain, while roti telur comes with an egg mixed in. Roti bom, is sprinkled with sugar, but at places like Restoran Khaleel in Batu Ferringhi, you can get roti smothered in honey, cinnamon and ice cream.

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love roti tissue

Roti Tissue is often spread thin, cooked crisp and then served as a tower. At places like Sri Ananda Bahwan in Tanjung Bungah, it comes drizzled with fruit syrup and condensed milk.

Tip: Most roti come with dipping sauces and chutneys. If it’s reddish, it’s likely curry (spice levels vary from zero to mid-range). If it’s yellow, it’s likely dhal (lentils) and not spicy. Coconut chutney is also a fave with our kids.

Murtabak

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love murtabak

Originating in the Middle East, murtabak is found all over the Muslim word and beyond. Essentially a bread that’s been stuffed and pan-fried, the Malaysian version of murtabak is a fried roti (see above) that’s been filled with ground chicken and spices. The filling is encased in a roti and then fried over a griddle.

Murtabak in Malaysia are usually flavored with curry powder, but it’s the condiments that really pack the heat.

Dosa

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love malaysia ghee dosa in Penang

Similar to roti in ubiquity and variety, dosa are often served in the same places and in the same varieties. Made from rice and lentil flour, dosa tend to lean on the savory side. Don’t expect to get a dosa served drizzled in honey. Instead, try a dosa with egg, cheese or onions. This is my favorite food in Malaysia and the one I miss the most.

One of our favorite Malaysian foods in the world is the simple ghee dosa: same batter, but spread and cooked with Indian clarified butter (ghee). The result is crispy, savory, slightly sweet and oh so satisfying.

Tip: As for sides and dipping sauces, same rules as roti (mentioned above) apply.

Popiah

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love popiah

Is it a spring roll? Is it a burrito? It is both and it is neither. Egg, stewed vegetables, and meat (often chicken) are rolled up into a thin, soft wrap and cut into sections. Popiah come in “wet” and “dry” versions, but both are generally non-spicy versions of the same Malaysian dish.

Pie Tee

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love pie tee

Far and away the cutest food in Malaysia for kids. This may look like an appetizer, but your kids may want to make an entire meal of them. These pastry cups are crisp and usually filled with slightly sweet stir-fried veggies and shrimp, but many varieties exist. Beware for chilies sprinkled on top. It happens.

Satay

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love satay

Behold: one of the all-time champions of Malay food. Unless you’re a vegetarian, it’s hard to argue with juicy chicken skewers over a charcoal grill. The dipping sauce for satay is usually made from peanuts, is not spicy and is what makes it uniquely delicious.

Belacan Chicken

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love Kuala Lumpur Penang belacan fried chicken

This Malay-style fried chicken is a contender for some of the best damn fried chicken in the world, and that’s saying something. Belacan is a cooking ingredient made from shrimp and salt, but we didn’t guess that the first dozen times we ate it. Keep in mind that some Belacan Chicken has a reddish tint (due to the shrimp?) but it’s not spicy.

Marmite Chicken

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love marmite chicken

Okay, okay, unless you’re from the Southern Hemisphere, you might not be a fan of Vegemite, Marmite, or similar spreads. It’s an acquired taste, I believe, and to be honest, I have no idea if my kids would like Marmite spread on toast the way most people consume it. However, as an ingredient in this non-spicy Malaysian dish, my kids ate it up.

Our favorite place for marmite chicken (and just about anything else) is at Nasi Melayu Lidiana, near the floating Mosque in Penang. The marmite chicken here was thick and black. My daughter devoured it every time we saw a fresh batch coming out. By the end of the meal, her face looked like she fell face-first into an oil well.

Chee Cheong Fun

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love Kuala Lumpur chee cheong fun

Imagine a rice noodle as a sheet, like the lasagne of the pasta world. Now fill this sheet with shrimp, crispy onions, or other ingredients and serve with a sweet soy. Delicious.

Many travelers never try this treat because “chee cheong” translates to pig intestine, but no porcine offal is used to make this. It’s simply what the noodles look like when rolled up. You can find chee cheong fun in hawker stalls in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and all over the peninsula, but the best I ever had was at a nondescript stall in Malacca.

Wonton Mee

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love wantan mee

This noodle dish often has a simple broth accenting homemade wontons and is usually accompanied by char siu (Chinese BBQ pork) and a few sprigs of green vegetables. You can find wonton mee in almost any hawker stall complex in Malaysia and Singapore, and the ingredients vary, so look before you buy.

Personally, our favorite wonton mee was made by a fiery old lady on a corner near downtown Georgetown. We ate there two or three times a month for a year.

Hainanese Chicken Rice

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love chicken rice

The ingredients are plain. The flavor isn’t. However, much of the flavor comes from the sauces served on the side — several of which can be quite spicy, so beware. The chicken is often boiled or poached with minimal other ingredients. The sauces that accompany this dish, however, are another story.

This dish is best known in Singapore, but widely available across Malaysia. This image is of a chicken leg, but most Hainanese Chicken Rice in Malaysia and elsewhere would be a boneless chicken breast.

Thali Vegetarian Food

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love Indian vegetarian Thali

Lots of little metal dishes with dozens of flavors. Taste-test them first, as some are spicy, and the reddish-colored ones aren’t always the culprits. Our favorite place was NR Sweets in Georgetown’s Little India. The entire menu is good, cheap, clean and fantastic, with plenty of non-thali vegetarian fare.

Dim Sum

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love Kuala Lumpur dim sum 2

One of China’s many great contributions to the culinary world is dim sum, and Malaysia does dim sum right. There are many dim sum places to enjoy in Malaysia. Some of the best dim sum restaurants are breakfast spots, and morning is the best time to go.

FRUIT: Our Favorite Food in Malaysia for Kids

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love malaysia fruit stand rambutan

As with much of Southeast Asia, fruit in Malaysia is cheap, fantastic and available year-round. Some fruits have a season, for sure, but no matter what month you visit, there will be plenty of nature’s bounty to dig into. Standards like watermelon and mango are exquisite (although their pineapple falls short of Taiwan’s high standard), but here are a few other family favorites that you may be less familiar with.

Mangosteen

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love mangosteen

It may not look like much from the outside, but on the inside, it’s heaven. This is my son’s favorite Malaysian food, period, and he begged for them all the time. Unfortunately, these seemed to be seasonal in Penang, and so we weren’t able to supply him with them as much as he cared for.

TIP: Be careful of the pulpy red outer layer, as it can stain white clothes easily

Red Dragon Fruit

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love red dragon fruit

This was the kids’ second favorite Malaysian fruit. Surprised? I was. Until we lived in Malaysia, the only dragon fruit I had ever tried had white flesh and was relatively flavorless. The flesh of Malaysian dragon fruit, however, is fuchsia — almost purple in color — and has a much fuller, deeper flavor.

Be warned, however: dragon fruit enters your body red in color, and then, well *ahem* that’s also exactly how it comes out. I’ll spare you the details. Instead, I’ll just say this: don’t freak out at the toilet. What may look like internal bleeding is simply an overindulgence in red dragon fruit.

Lychee

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love lychee

Plump, succulent and slightly tangy, lychee are a great Malaysian fruit to snack on. Found throughout the Southeast Asian region, we ate our weight in these little guys more than once.

Rambutan

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love rambutan

The lychee’s hairier cousin, rambutan look more like eggs from some kind of psychedelic muppet bird than a delicious Malaysian fruit. Yet that’s exactly what they are. I prefer the ones we’ve eaten in Krabi, Thailand, to be honest, but we’re talking the difference between great and really great.

Wax Apple

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love fruit wax apple

Also called a rose pear and a Java apple, these juicy morsels have a mild flavor and an amazing texture — like a firmer watermelon. I began my love affair with these in Taiwan in 1997, and then continued it while we lived in Penang.

Pomelo

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love Kuala Lumpur Penang pomelo

Often resembling a giant egg-shaped grapefruit, the pomelo is similar in flavor but often sweeter and with less juice. This dryness makes them less messy to eat by hand. The skin on a pomelo is super-thick but relatively easy to peel. That said, pre-peeled wedges are often for sale in markets and grocery stores.

Food in Malaysia for Kids: Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love Kuala Lumpur malaysia fruitstall

Looking Beyond Malaysian Food?

How about Japanese food?

Or Taiwanese food?

Looking for things to do in Malaysia? Or fun stuff in Penang?

What is YOUR Go-to Food in Malaysia for Kids?

This list is far from complete. Add in spicy stuff, international food, and more exotic fare, and I could make this list 20 times longer. Would your kids only eat non-spicy Malaysian food or are they more adventurous? What food in Malaysia would you like to try? What food in Malaysia for kids would you recommend?

for Kids Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love PIN 2for Kids Non-Spicy Malaysian Food They'll Love PIN 2

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Comments

  1. Absolutely just what I need before I embark to that country. Love love that you have the details and amazing photos of all the food. Saving this link for my reference and for sharing too. All the Best!

  2. This is an excellent write up! As a westerner who has tried to write about Malaysian food, I have found it to be a fascinating challenge. I’m bookmarking your informative piece for future reference.

    • So glad you like it! You live in Langkawi? Then you must know that this list isn’t complete. Just the easiest for kids and newcomers. I love spicy food, so of course I love the curries, rendang and nasi kandar, too. And so much more! What’s your go-to Malaysian dish?

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