What do Malaysian people eat? Lots of great food! I like Malaysian food, probably because of the diversity of cuisine throughout the country. With influences from India and China, mixed into traditional Malay dishes, it is not difficult to come up with a list of the top 10 Langkawi must-eat dishes.
In fact, my original list of what to eat in Langkawi had 13 items, but 13 is bad luck, right? So, I narrowed the list down to 10 Langkawi food dishes you must eat in Langkawi.
The Best Food in Langkawi Blog
First, let’s talk about where to eat in Langkawi. The most obvious choices for where to eat in Langkawi are of course the large hotel properties, or the beachfront Langkawi restaurants along Pantai Cendang, the main Langkawi beach area. That’s where most of the Langkawi nightlife and Langkawi dining is, and frankly, some great sunsets. But, looking beyond the obvious, we were able to find pretty good things to eat in Langkawi, all over the island.
What To Do in Langkawi
I was excited to travel from Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi for a visit focused mostly on eating! We actually found some fun things to do in Langkawi, including visiting the 3D Art museum and learning how they make buffalo cheese in Langkawi. We even took a sunset cruise. There’s also an amazing Langkawi cable car to see the island from up high. Langkawi tourism is pretty developed, and there is a ton to do in Langkawi.
What To Eat In Langkawi
There are plenty of Langkawi attractions to keep any traveler with itchy feet totally busy! But, for us, we were all about the food! We found some of our Malay favorite foods, as well as some new dishes we never tried before.
1. Langkawi Nasi Campur – Best Local Food in Langkawi
In this case, at Seashell Restaurant Langkawi in Pantai Cendang, it was served on a humongous plate, with chicken, tofu, vegetable soup, and more. It was easily the largest nasi campur I have ever experienced!
2. Sambal – A Famous Food in Langkawi
Nasi campur would not be complete without sambal, the spicy chili sauce served on the side. Although there are many different varieties of sambal, the bright red one is my favorite.
This is sambal belecan and is made with a fish paste. Unlike some of the other types of sambal, this one is actually not too fishy. It can pack a punch though.
I learned how to make sambal during a cooking class with Chef Shuk in Langkawi. Chef Shuk also taught me about the process of making sambal for a future mother-in-law, as a test of the cooking skills of a potential future bride.
Good thing my mother-in-law never tested me on my cooking skills. When talking about what to eat in Langkawi, this should be the easiest to check off the list! It’s pretty common with Malay cooking.
3. Laksa – A Langkawi Best Food For Seafood Lovers
Laksa comes in many different varieties, whether you eat it in peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, or Langkawi. In Singapore, it is common to find this fish or shrimp-based curry soup with spaghetti style noodles.
The Langkawi variety offers a thick, fresh noodle, that was clearly made by hand. The broth was spicy and pungent, with a hard-boiled egg nestled on the top.
The best places to go in Langkawi for laksa might be a little surprising. When arriving on the island, you don’t need to look far on the Langkawi map.
The place to eat Laksa is the road opposite the Langkawi airport. Grab a plastic table with a view of the water on one side and the planes landing on the other. Who needs to eat at the fancy Langkawi resorts, when you can eat like the locals do.
4. That’s a Lot of Sate to Eat in Langkawi
This is definitely a Langkawi “famous food” – sate! We were told it is nearly impossible to run a successful sate restaurant in Langkawi Malaysia because people don’t need to go to a restaurant for sate.
Sate is everywhere! Yes, you will find it on restaurant menus, but the best is in the local market because it’s a typical street food in Langkawi.
Or, even better, the sate comes to you, with roving sate stalls that offer grilled chicken or beef on a stick, with peanut sauce and pressed rice. It’s the perfect Langkawi street food.
5. Beef Rendang – One of the Best Things to Eat in Langkawi
One of our favorite dishes from our time living in Bali. We ate beef rendang almost weekly at our local nasi padang. It is often made from a lesser cut of meat and can take up to 8 hours for the curry sauce to soak into the beef until the beef is almost dry with no sauce.
Once all that curry sauce is soaked in, the beef is a lot more tender. It’s normally served over rice, or could be served on a typical nasi campur. And, as much as it is a curry dish, it’s not too spicy. It’s more flavorful than spicy. If people want it spicy they can add sambal.
6. Ikan Bakar – A Local Food to Eat in Langkawi
Another dish that is easy to find all over Langkawi island, is ikan bakar, or translated to grilled fish. Streetside restaurants will advertise ikan bakar on large signs in the front, or just follow the streams of smoke that rise from the grill.
Often times a smaller fish, like a mackerel, is used, and the fish is served whole, with a bbq sauce slathered across, and a sambal served alongside. Of course . . . there is always sambal!
7. Squid – A Must Try Food in Langkawi
We were lucky enough to go squid scooping or fishing for squid, one night while on the island. But this is a very common dish to find, and a must-try food in Langkawi. The best is squid that is breaded and fried, like fish and chips, and served with a sweet and sour sauce.
8. Mozzarella – Cheese is a food in Langkawi!
Probably not a dish you would associate with the top foods to eat in Langkawi. Mozzarella is definitely not a local specialty. Many Malays don’t have a taste developed for cheese. It is not part of the local diet. But, buffalo mozzarella is made right on the island.
A visit to the Buffalo Park ends with a cheese tasting, and it is possible to buy many different kinds of buffalo dairy products, including cheese and yogurt, at their little shop. If you eat mozzarella cheese at your Langkawi accommodation, chances are it might come from Langkawi island!
9. Ice Kacang – Ais Kacang Langkawi
Ice Kacang, or “ABC Special,” is a shaved ice dessert, loaded with sweet fruit syrups, and bright colored jellies. To go hardcore local, expect the ice kacang to have peanuts, kernels of corn, and often times kidney beans, nestled among the sweet flavored ice.
The best place to find ice kacang is on the road across from the airport. A perfect evening can include laksa and ice kacang while watching the sunset along the water.
Could it be that one of the best places to visit in Langkawi for food is the road outside of the airport? This is an evening meal that can cost less than $3 a person! Now that’s some Langkawi local food.
10. Durian Langkawi – the Stinkiest of the Langkawi foods!
Okay, so I am not a fan of durian, the prickly green king of fruits, that when cut open reveals the smelliest fruit on the planet. On a visit to the 3D Art Museum in Langkawi, the manager offered us durian in a new way, frozen deep-fried durian.
I took a bite of Eric’s, to be polite. Again, I am not a fan, but the Malays love it, and durian is everywhere. If you have never eaten durian before, Langkawi is the perfect place to try it.
What Else to Eat in Langkawi?
So, there is my list of the top 10 foods to eat in Langkawi. Although, I will also offer honorable mentions for some other Langkawi food.
These foods in Langkawi include an amazingly bright and juicy star fruit at MARDI, the agrotechnology park, a fresh Malaysian salad at Restoran 1, and the fabulous curry we made during our cooking class with Chef Shuk. Yes, I can include a dish we made ourselves on our list of top Langkawi foods!
Top Langkawi Hotels
Our Langkawi Food Guide – Where to Stay in Langkawi
The question then is, where should you stay when enjoying all this tasty Langkawi local food? It depends on whether you want luxury or value. Or, if you want Langkawi hotels near the beach, or something more like a Langkawi homestay, to make your Langkawi trip more local.
Here are our recommendations for some great Langkawi hotels:
The Andaman, a Luxury Collection Resort, a great compromise between luxury and value, meaning perhaps the best place to stay in Langkawi: Read Tripadvisor Reviews | Book on Booking.com | Book on Hotels.com | Rooms from $175
The Gemalai Village, a great option on where to stay in Langkawi, away from the Langkawi beach, but surrounded by rice paddies and buffalo: Read Tripadvisor Reviews | Book on Booking.com | Book on Hotels.com | Rooms from $70
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER.
We were supported by Naturally Langkawi during our trip, but all opinions are, as always, my own.
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Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new Food and Drink Destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.