When it comes to global food, Canberra is bursting at the seams with restaurants to choose from. With many Asian cuisines represented all across town, from Thai to Japanese and fusion, Canberra foodies are spoiled for choice when planning a night out for dinner.
Malaysian food is the ultimate in fusion cuisine, blending spice, culture and rich history. As a trade hub between Europe, the Middle East, India and China, over the centuries Malaysia’s cuisine has become a delicious amalgamation of all these culinary delights. Today, Malaysian food is rich, bold and a delicious reflection of its multi-ethnic population.
Canberra is home to many Malaysian joints all across town, from sit-down restaurants to street-food style. If you’re craving Malaysian, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll break down a few things to look for in a great Malaysian restaurant, as well as a handy guide to some of Canberra’s favourites.
What makes a great Malaysian restaurant?
Aside from making tasty food, here’s what the best Malaysian restaurants in Canberra have in common:
- Varied menu. Malaysian food is already quite varied, and includes soups, noodle and rice dishes as well as salads and roasts. A great Malaysian restaurant will have enough dishes available that there’s plenty to choose from without it becoming overwhelming.
- Able to cater to dietary requirements. Luckily, most Malaysian food is already gluten free, and there are plenty of dishes that are vegetarian or vegan to begin with. However, if you maybe want to adjust spice levels or make a dish vegetarian, a great Malaysian restaurant will be able to meet your needs.
- Lively atmosphere. No one wants to sit in an awkward and quiet venue while they eat. Great restaurants draw great crowds – look for a venue that is regularly attracting lots of customers to make sure you have a fun night out!
- Value for money. The cost of the food should reflect the quality of it. Great Malaysian restaurants have reasonable serving sizes and consistent quality, leaving you feeling satisfied that you haven’t been ripped off.
- Helpful waitstaff. If you’re new to Malaysian cuisine, you might find yourself relying on your waiters to help explain what certain dishes are. Great Malaysian restaurants will be staffed by friendly and helpful waiters to make sure you have the perfect dining experience.
The best Malaysian restaurants in Canberra
RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.
To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on RiotACT and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.
Madam Lu is led by Malaysian owner Ming Kong and her husband Alan Lu. The two have been in the Canberra restaurant business for over 15 years, and opened Madam Lu to bring truly authentic Malaysian food to the city. Located in the Melbourne building, Madam Lu is all about passion, care and attentive service, as well as delicious food to make every customer feel welcome as soon as they walk through the door.
READ ALSO: The Institutions: Malaysian food worth shouting about in Civic
On Facebook, Gerard Foreman writes, "Delicious food and the Beef Rendang is outstanding. Highly recommended!"
Ming's Pantry is serving up Malaysian and Asian inspired dishes in a casual and welcoming venue. With street-side dining and a stylish interior, you can choose from classic Malay dishes. From roti with beef rendang, to nasi lemak with curry chicken, or a special laksa - there's plenty of options for all tastes.
Happy customer Eliza Anlezark writes on Facebook, “Super quick and amazing food! Up there with the best Asian food I’ve had. The popcorn chicken, char keow teow and beef rendang with roti are stand outs. Get in and around this place!”
Rasa Sayang Restaurant has been making delicious food for the Canberra community for over 40 years. Specialising in Malaysian-Chinese fusion, there are over 100 dishes to choose from. Whether you prefer mild or spicy, vego or meat dishes, there's something for everyone at Rasa Sayang.
As Facebook user Melissa Re writes, “Beautiful food, always and the service is exceptional. Can not walk in here without leaving with a smile. Dried chilli beef is the best for any occasion - take away, eat in, nights alone, leftovers etc. Rasa Sayang is one of Dickson’s gems.”
If you’re looking for more Asian cuisine in Canberra, you’re spoiled for choice – check out our articles on the best Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese restaurants in town for some helpful guides.
Your experience with Malaysian restaurants in Canberra
Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback, if you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.
Have you been to any of the Malaysian restaurants listed above? Did we miss your favourite? Share your thoughts and feedback below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Malaysian food healthy?
Relative to cuisines such as Thai or Vietnamese, Malaysian is not the healthiest Asian cuisine you could find. Many of its recipes rely on high quantities of soy sauce, condensed milk and sambal, all sources of calories, fat, salt and sugar. However, there are plenty of leafy greens in Malaysian recipes as well as healthy proteins, so look for dishes that feature those ingredients.
What are some easy Malaysian recipes I can make at home?
There are plenty of simple and delicious recipes that you can easily make at home, from curries such as Nasi lemak to rice dishes like Nasi goreng. There are plenty more options out there, and hardly any that use hard to find ingredients or take too long to cook.
Is Malaysian food expensive?
Generally speaking, no. Malaysian cuisine tends to use similar spice mixes, vegetables and proteins across the majority of their dishes, but prepares them in different ways to differentiate between the dishes. These ingredients are easy to find and cheap to buy in bulk, so restaurants don’t have to charge too much and can serve large portions.
How spicy is Malaysian food?
Malaysian dishes are incredibly aromatic and flavourful, and can also be quite spicy. Whether or not there is already spice in the dish, Malaysian food is often served with chilli or sambal on the side.
Is Malaysian food gluten free or vegan friendly?
Somewhat. Because the base for many Malaysian dishes is rice, a lot of Malaysian food is already 100% gluten free. Being vegan might be a little trickier, as dairy products do feature in a few Malaysian dishes, however there are plenty of dishes that are either meat free or can be served without meat.