We all know that Malaysia is a food obsessed nation.
With food being the single most unifying yet divisive topic, it comes as no surprise that we’ve had our fair share of interesting food trends.
As the decade comes to a close and we start piling our plates high at New Year’s Eve parties, we walk down memory lane to revisit the best Malaysian viral food trends of the last decade.
Boba, bubble tea, liquid sugar – whatever you call it, there’s no denying that bubble tea is probably the BIGGEST trend of the decade.
While bubble tea has been around for a few years already (remember pearl tea?), it didn’t become the national obsession that it is today until Chatime burst into town in 2010.
From then, various bubble tea shops and brands mushroomed all over the country and we started welcoming brown sugar bobas like they were long-lost lovers.
With 10 years of fame, it was only natural for the boba trend to infiltrate solid foods. And so, we find ourselves scratching our heads at strange combinations like boba pizza, boba crab, mee boba, boba omelette and more.
Can anyone’s mouths (and butts) forget the spicy noodle challenge of 2016?
We witnessed Malaysians crying in pain mixed with regret online as they chowed down on the infamous Samyang Hot Chicken Flavour Ramen to prove their spicy prowess.
From then, the term “pedas gila” (crazy spicy) became the mantra of Malaysian eateries and we now find ourselves sniffling over super spicy fried chicken, Mala hotpots and increasingly spicy instant noodles.
The hardiest food trend is definitely salted egg yolk, which shows no signs of disappearing.
What was once a traditional staple in Chinese cuisine, the salted egg got a 21st-century makeover with dozens of permutations.
Strong favourites include salted egg yolk chips, fish skins, croissants, burgers, mooncakes, waffles and the list goes on and on and on and on…
Breaking away from the trusted nasi lemak stall, Malaysia’s unofficial national dish started bombarding us in all shapes and form.
There were nasi lemak cheesecake, nasi lemak ice cream, nasi lemak burger, nasi lemak pizzas, nasi lemak shoes and a whole lot more.
The nasi lemak even went global when Miss Universe Malaysia wore the nasi lemak dress to the Miss Universe pageant in 2017 – complete with a sambal and egg centrepiece and banana leaf wings!
The Singapore-Malaysia food fight
We’ve honestly lost count of the number of times Malaysians erupted in anger over Singapore’s claim over beloved Malaysian dishes.
Some of the most notable moments of the decade include when McDonald’s Singapore introduced the Nasi Lemak Burger for their National Day, when a magazine declared Singapore had the best street food and when Malaysia was excluded, but Singapore included, in the Netflix Street Food documentary.
Suffice to say, social media was alight with proud Malaysians fiercely defending their national food pride.
If you’re wondering why Malaysian cuisine keeps getting overshadowed by our southern neighbour, we discussed it in a previous article HERE.
If nasi lemak cheesecake brings on war flashbacks, we’re sorry to remind you of the numerous other suspect cheese additions to already perfect dishes.
Kuey teow cheese, satay cheese, lemang cheese and nasi lemak cheese were some of the biggest offenders.
The only good news was pisang goreng cheese and our newfound appreciation for cheese naan.
The Crispy Rendang Saga of 2018 left a lasting impact on Malaysian’s plates when Malaysian-born Masterchef UK contestant, Zaleha Kadir Olpin’s, nasi lemak with chicken rendang was criticised by the judges for the chicken’s skin being “not crispy.”
Of course, true blue Malaysians knew that rendang chicken isn’t meant to be crispy, and so the judges faced the wrath of Malaysians.
The result, however, was a blitz campaign by local F&B players who went all out to show us how rendang and crispy chicken should be done, along with some great memes.
Durian (Every Durian Season)
What began as a delicious dream became an all-out assault on the senses when durians, especially Musang King, exploded.
On the bright side, desserts like durian cheesecake, durian crepes and durian cendol are now mainstays.
With the global domination of K Pop and K Drama, comes the palate domination of Korean foods as well.
What was once a strange concept, Korean BBQ, Korean fried chicken, Samyang spicy noodles, Bimbimbap, and mukbangs are now part of the everyday young Malaysian dinner menu.
Wearing Your Favourite Food
Nostalgia kicked in hard in the late 2010s and suddenly everyone clamoured to wear their childhood snacks on their bodies – because we’re Malaysians, after all.
This kicked off a wave of cute Malaysian food accessories that periodically went viral. There’s “Ikat Tepi” drink keychains, kuih studs and even bubble tea nails!
If you’re hungry for more, check out our list of food-themed accessories perfect for every hungry Malaysian HERE.
While Malaysians love our Milo, things went a little bit crazy when people started sprinkling the chocolate malt powder in foods it had no business being in contact with.
This decade marked the birth of Milo Maggi Curry, Milo with durian and rice, poached eggs in Milo, chicken chop Milo as well as the baffling Milo cheese durian drink.
Looking back at the viral Malaysian food trends, it’s interesting to see how creative we can be and how far we’ll go for our love for food. While there were some very questionable entries, there’s definitely some delicious good that came out from this. We raise our forks to that!
She puts the pun in Punjabi. With a background in healthcare, lifestyle writing and memes, this lady's articles walk a fine line between pun-dai and pun-ishing.