Malaysian Dining Culture: Eat In and Dine Out Malaysian Style

Since you landed on this page, we assume you are going to savour Malaysian food any time soon. You have got a dinner invitation from a Malaysian family or maybe you’re going to dine out at a traditional yet sophisticated Malaysian restaurant for the first time.

Whatever be the reason, knowing basic Malaysian dining etiquettes can help you create a pleasant experience while giving you an insight into authentic Malaysian food culture.


Having said that, given below is a quick guide to dining Malaysian style which will help you make sure you enjoy your experience as well as avoid offending your host.

  • If you are invited to a dinner at home, it is customary to greet the host with a ‘SALAM’ (a handshake ritual) and offer them a gift with your right hand as a gesture of appreciation.
  • In traditional Malay homes, meals are served and taken on the floor. During their meals, people sit within a square-shaped piece of cloth called ‘SAPRAH’.
  • Female guests and children are generally served in a separate location from men unless it’s a small private affair for a few honoured guests.
  • During a meal, men and women sit are required to sit in different manners. Men sit with their feet criss-crossed in front of them while women fold both their feet on one side, usually towards their right side.
  • Guests are supposed to wait till they are shown their seats on the table by the host. As a gesture of respect, seats for the guests are arranged to the left side of the elder most member of the family.
  • It is considered inappropriate of guests to start eating before the host signals. This exudes disdain or could infer you’re in a hurry to leave.
  • Using left hand either to serve or to eat food is considered inappropriate and is strictly avoided.
  • In Malaysian culture, each grain of rice is sacred and wasting is strictly avoided. So, consider serving adequate amount of rice for your consumption.


Just like Malaysian food and cuisine, Malaysian table manners and dining etiquettes are influenced by Indian, Chinese and Malay cultures. The native Malay, Chinese and India Malaysians have their own distinct eating practices and ways to dine. It is important understand these etiquettes whether you’re going to dine out at a restaurant, in public or in a private atmosphere in order to make your experience more memorable and pleasant.

If you’re looking to savour authentic Malaysian delicacies in Australia, Mamak Malaysian Restaurant is the place to be. Choose from a rich variety of mouth-watering Malaysian dishes to satisfy your taste buds and become a lover of the world-famous cuisine.


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