Top 15 Kopitiam Food & Drinks In Malaysia That Locals Love

Top 15 Kopitiam Food & Drinks In Malaysia That Locals Love

Top 27 Local Food In Malaysia Loved By Locals Reading Top 15 Kopitiam Food & Drinks In Malaysia That Locals Love 10 minutes

Make Your Kopitiam Experience In Malaysia A Truly Delicious One With These Kopitiam Food & Drinks That Locals Can’t Get Enough Of!

Most of you know that Malaysia is home to a vibrant culinary scene thanks to its diverse cultural influences and rich heritage. But did you know that deep within this gastronomic hub lies one particular institution that serves as a cherished spot for locals to enjoy a hearty meal?

It’s none other than the humble kopitiam. Kopitiams are in essence, Malaysian Chinese coffee shops that serve as a gathering spot for locals to enjoy a scrumptious breakfast or mid-day lunch break away from the office.

There are many modern kopitiams these days that are readily air-conditioned with plush seats and an extensive menu, especially in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. But few stray from the traditional local kopitiam that offers timeless kopitiam food and drinks that locals, both young and old, simply can’t get enough of. 

Read on to discover the signature dishes and drinks of kopitiams to try during your next visit to a local Malaysian coffee shop.

15 Types Of Kopitiam Food & Drinks In Malaysia That Locals Love

Nasi Lemak. Photo by Suhairy Tri Yadhi.
Photo by Suhairy Tri Yadhi.

1. Nasi Lemak

Did you know that Malaysia’s national dish is also a kopitiam favourite? Nasi lemak is a traditional Malaysian dish that consists of fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk, served with sambal, ikan bilis (deep fried anchovies), roasted peanuts, boiled egg, and cucumber slices. Some nasi lemak vendors even offer a side of fried chicken, chicken rendang, or squid sambal with it!

Nasi lemak is well-loved by kopitiam regulars because the rice’s slightly sweet and creamy taste beautifully complements the sambal’s spicy kick for a truly comforting and satisfying meal.

Half-boiled eggs.

2. Half-Boiled Eggs

The local kopitiam’s half-boiled eggs are such a simple yet delightful dish that it’s made its way to most households as a regular breakfast staple. It’s highly favoured because it serves as a quick source of protein, is incredibly easy to consume, and simple to make!

Hard-boiled eggs are typically served alongside little bottles of soy sauce and ground white pepper for a dash of extra flavour, and they are often paired with kaya butter toast for a complete breakfast set.

Bonus Tip: Dip your kaya butter toast into the creamy yolk for a real flavourful bite!

Kaya butter toast in a Malaysian kopitiam

3. Kaya Butter Toast (Roti Bakar)

Kaya butter toast, also known as roti bakar, is a traditional kopitiam snack and breakfast dish made up of toasted Hailam bread slices spread with kaya (a sweet jam made from coconut milk, sugar, eggs, and sometimes pandan) and slabs of butter.

This particular dish is a top favourite for kopitiam regulars because of the delightful contrast in flavours and textures. Imagine the satisfying crunch of hot crispy toast with sweet and creamy kaya, completed by cold slabs of rich butter - how yummy!

Chicken Rice. Photo by min che.
Photo by Min Che.

4. Chicken Rice

Chicken rice is a true household classic, and a kopitiam classic too! It consists of poached or roasted chicken which is chopped into slices and served with fragrant rice cooked in chicken broth. It also typically comes with a side of citrusy chilli sauce and ginger paste.

Many love chicken rice for its simple yet flavourful nature. Think succulent, tender chicken paired with aromatic, flavourful rice. It’s enjoyed by locals at any time of the day, be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Mee Siam. Photo by Choo Yut Shing.
Photo by Choo Yut Shing.

5. Mee Siam

The spicy, tangy, and overall flavourful mee siam is a popular dish enjoyed with a side of omelette strips or fried egg by kopitiam regulars. Mee siam consists of rice vermicelli which is stir-fried with a vibrant blend of dried shrimp, tamarind, and spices.

Most kopitiams these days serve mee siam with a side of lime and sambal to give it both a spicy kick and to enhance its tanginess. It’s commonly enjoyed as a light breakfast or a snack at any time of the day. Some even have it for lunch or dinner with a side of chicken rendang!

Char Kway Teow

6. Char Kway Teow

Char kway teow is one of Malaysia’s most popular street foods, but did you know that this dish is also a well-loved kopitiam favourite? Char kway teow is a noodle dish made out of stir-frying flat rice noodles with prawns, Chinese sausage, eggs, bean sprouts, and chives in dark soy sauce. 

It’s typically stir-fried in a wok over high heat, which gives the char kway teow and its delicious ingredients the signature wok hei smokiness. And not forgetting that the best kopitiams serve it with a side of lime to be squeezed over the char kway teow, and some fresh chilli slices for an added spicy kick.

Dim sum char siu bao.

7. Dim Sum

Contrary to pop-culture, dim sum is not a singular dish, but rather a collection of various bite-sized dishes served on small plates or steamer baskets. Some popular dim sum items include freshly steamed dumplings, steamed buns (also known as “pau”), steamed rice rolls, stir-fried carrot cake cubes, deep fried pastries, and egg tarts.

The usual suspects for dim sum in some dim sum-focused kopitiams typically include siu mai (steamed pork and shrimp dumpling), har gao (crystal shrimp dumplings), char siu pau, alongside desserts like mango pudding and egg tarts.

Kopi. Photo by Alfred.
Photo by Alfred.

8. Kopi

Whether Malaysian or not, you must try kopi at least once in your life. Kopi is exactly what it sounds like, coffee. It’s a traditional Malaysian coffee drink often brewed in a cloth strainer with dark roasted ground Liberica coffee beans and sometimes (but rarely) Robusta beans, which gives it its iconic bold and rich flavour, then served with sweetened condensed milk or evaporated milk and sugar.

Kopi is a staple in kopitiams, serving as its namesake, and as a regular morning pick-me-up for locals. Kopitiam regulars even enjoy it in the classic porcelain cup and saucer over a leisurely afternoon chat alongside kaya butter toast, a Southeast Asian parallel to the English afternoon tea.

Neslo in a tall glass. Photo by bady abbas.
Photo by Bady Abbas.

9. Neslo

Neslo is a popular Malaysian kopitiam beverage that combines kopi or Nescafé with Milo, a chocolate malt drink. This gets you a creamy, chocolatey coffee drink that’s similar to a caffè Mocha.

This popular kopitiam beverage is more often enjoyed by Malaysia’s younger crowd as a more palatable twist of the regular kopi, while getting their dose of Milo’s nostalgic flavour.

Cham served in traditional ceramic cup and saucer. Photo by Wilson Foo.
Photo by Wilson Foo.

10. Cham

If you thought that a mixture of coffee and tea would turn out to be gross, thank again! It’s actually a perfect blend of a match made in heaven because that’s exactly what cham is. 

Cham is a unique Malaysian drink that mixes black coffee and black tea together with a serve of condensed milk or evaporated milk for a creamy and refreshing beverage that is enjoyed in kopitiams Malaysia-wide.

Three-layer tea.

11. Three-Layer Tea

Three-layer tea is a visually stunning drink that is named for the three distinctive layers that make up its appearance. You have a small dose of palm sugar syrup at the bottom layer, followed by evaporated milk in the middle, and black tea on top.

The layers are always served unmixed, because it’s a fun drink that allows you to take in the gradient of individual flavours as you drink it. Three-layer tea is typically enjoyed cold, making it one of the best kopitiam drinks to enjoy on a hot day.

Soya Cincau drink. Photo by Alpha on Flickr.
Photo by Alpha.

12. Soya Cincau

Soya cincau is an interesting drink with an even more interesting nickname in Malaysia’s kopitiams; Michael Jackson. It’s a refreshing drink that consists of soy milk and grass jelly (cincau), making it a sweet, creamy drink that comes with a chewy bite at each sip.

The creamy soy milk alongside the chewy grass jelly makes soya cincau a refreshing yet healthier kopitiam beverage for those seeking healthier options on a hot day.

Chee Cheong Fun. Photo by Jnzl's Photos.
Photo by Jnzl.

13. Chee Cheong Fun

Chee cheong fun is a popular dish in dim sum restaurants and kopitiams in Malaysia. It’s a type of wide steamed flat rice noodle that is served rolled up as it is, or with shrimp, char siu, or vegetables rolled within.

The rice rolls are then topped with sesame seeds, fried shallots, soy sauce, and a side of chilli paste before serving. Locals love chee cheong for its smooth, silky texture and light but satisfying nature.

Curry Mee in a kopitiam. Photo by Kok Leong Tan.
Photo by Kok Leong Tan.

14. Curry Mee

Curry mee, also known as curry laksa, is a spicy noodle soup with the soup being a rich, coconut milk-based (santan) curry broth. Curry mee typically includes yellow noodles, chicken, tofu puffs, bean sprouts, and a hard-boiled egg. Sometimes local Malaysians even opt to mix yellow noodles with vermicelli or to only have it with kway teow noodles to soak up the curry.

It’s a local kopitiam fan favourite because of its rich, aromatic broth and comforting array of ingredients, making it a popular choice for kopitiam regulars who enjoy bold, hearty flavours. Some kopitiams even serve it with a side of lime and sambal to further enhance its flavours!

Chicken Hor Fun. Photo by YF Phang.
Photo by YF Phang.

15. Chicken Hor Fun

Known also as Ipoh hor fun, chicken hor fun is a classic noodle soup enjoyed in most kopitiams during breakfast and lunch. It’s made up of flat rice noodles (hor fun or kway teow) in a clear chicken broth alongside shredded or poached chicken, prawns, bean sprouts, chives, and a garnish of fried shallots.

Most love it for the comforting flavours of its flavourful broth and smooth, slippery noodles. Some even add a dash of light soy sauce into the broth and enjoy each bite of the noodles with a thin slice of fresh red chili for a spicy kick.

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