What is Nasi Dagang?

Nasi Dagang is a very authentic Malay dish. Even if you are in Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, it does not guarantee you to get the best Nasi Dagang. In order to get the true authentic taste, you have to head up north to the east coast of Malaysian Peninsular – Terengganu.


The location of Terengganu, blessed by the bountiful sea and surrounded by beautiful islands

Terengganu is a place where it is blessed by the natural resources of the long coastal line. The sea makes the people grow and develop their culture accordingly. Before the modern days, people in this area will make end meets by making full use of the sea. It is common for people to work as fisherman and usually the next generation will follow.

Breakfast for Champion

As working out in the open sea requires lots of energy, it reflects this hard working culture in their diet. It is common to see the culture of rich and heavy meal in this part of Malaysia.  People will eat rice with lots of fish and other dishes that will keep their stomach full for a long period. For example, this very famous, Nasi Dagang.

What is Nasi Dagang

This humble plate of rice, with a bowl of fish dish, will enrich your soul along your journey across Malaysia

Nasi Dagang is basically a mix of normal and glutinous rice steamed and cooked together with ginger sliced with special herb and then soaked with coconut milk. The rice will be accompanied by a fish dish, the one that makes it special. Usually, ‘Ikan Tongkol’ or ‘Ikan Aye’ (what locals call it – Ikan is fish in Malay) will be cooked in a spicy coconut broth with special spices that gives them the distinct taste. It is not Curry, but it resembles the look of it. The locals call it ‘Gulai’, which is a lighter version of curry, or you might just as well imagine it to be the local version of fish curry, but I warn you the taste is very different.

The garnishes of this dish are usually pickled cucumber, carrots, and some shallots. Some people like to have the hard-boiled egg together with this dish too. But for me, I just love to have extra fresh chilies just to spice up the taste and add in more heat to it.

It is common to have this dish during the breakfast time; you can get this at almost any stalls or at the morning market. However, if you are in Terengganu, I would suggest you find simple and humble ‘warung’ (warung means small food place in the rural area or village) by the beach, and enjoy the very breakfast of your life!

Cruising men in malaysia

The example of Warung by the beach in Paka, Terengganu. Imagine having your breakfast facing the blue sea

Last but not least, although nowadays, the majority of young people in Terengganu no longer become fishermen, plus with the economic boon in the area due to Oil and Gas industry, the food culture still remains the same. People all over Malaysia will still come to Terengganu for its food and notably for Nasi Dagang.

For you, travelers that are looking to eat like a local when you are in Malaysia, or just planning to pay a visit soon, I just gave you another reason to go out of your way and travel to Terengganu, Malaysia, and it is just to have a plate of Nasi Dagang (by the beach)!

Posted in Foods, Travel Malaysia Guide.


  1. A good article on Nasi Dagang – from the origins to the ingredients.

    Honestly, I have never tried it.

    Besides, never been to Terengganu too.

    Looking at the picturesque, must do both. Visit Terengganu and eat Nasi Dagang.

    Food brings people together. Hope to read more and get more information from you.

    • Hi Sharon, is it possible to know where are you from?
      You should visit Terengganu maybe just for its foods and also beautiful islands.


  2. Hello there,

    Excellent article & website too, I hope to visit Malaysia one day, I came across by your website while searching for food culture in Malasia as I went to Thailand before & I didn’t like the most of the food there lol!, this Nasi Dagang seem delicious & I want to try it now :D, thanks for sharing this, I bookmarked your website for further plans.

    Cheers, Ehab

    • Hi Ehab, thanks for your comment.
      I am glad that you find this article useful.
      What can I say, hurmm, there are some similarities in Thai and Malaysian foods but it is just a part of the food spectrums, dont forget to try Nasi Dagang if you ever visit Malaysia in the future.


  3. I really enjoyed your article.
    i will be traveling to Malaysia in April, so you have given me something to look forward to.
    last time i was in Asia i found it interesting that rice was eaten at breakfast.
    The advantage of this kind of breakfast is that it provides energy all the way to lunch.

    • Hi keith, how are you,
      I am glad that you find this interesting.
      It is indeed a very hearty dish that will give out energy all day long.
      Hope you will enjoy your next trip to Malaysia soon.


  4. Hey there. I like your post on Nasi Dagang.. I must say that Malasians have a very interesitng cuisne. I live in Europe and you cant get those kind of dishes here. Anyway a litle off the track, but still- What do you reccomend is the best place to visit if Ive never before been to Malasya. Which region has the best food?

  5. Your descriptions have made me feel like I have taken a trip to Malaysia.

    I noticed that the recipes contain coconut milk; coconut contains a lot of very healthy nutrients, and also adds flavor so I can just imagine the taste of the dish, especially the Nasi Dagang. Reminds me of Caribbean dishes.

    Thanks for sharing your culture.

    • Hi Judy, I never been to Caribbean or encounter its foods before, however, I’m not surprise if there are similarities in both cuisines as Terengganu itself (the birthplace of this dish) is located along coastline of Peninsular Malaysia

    • Hi Gwenelyn, it is understandable that this dish is not very popular to foreigners as it is a very traditional and authentic dish. You must try this dish if you are in Malaysia

  6. Hi there!
    What an interesting review on Nasi-Dagang. I’m unsure whether I could personally stomach spicy fish for breakfast but I love to try new things so who knows..
    I have traveled a fair bit myself so I love reading about other interesting countries I haven’t been to.
    I look forward to reading more of your website and hope to travel to Malaysia soon!
    Thanks again,

    • Hi there, thank you for dropping by.
      I know, it may sounds odd having spicy fish for breakfast, but it you feel uncomfortable, you can always have it for brunch! Lol.

      Thank you very much

  7. Hi. What a delicious looking meal. I live in a very small fishing village in Canada, where fish plays a big roll in our diet. I’m always looking for new ways from different cultures to prepare it. It may be considered a simple local dish, but usually the simplest dishes are the ones that tastes the best……are they not

    • Hi Kim, thank for tour comment,

      You are right, I also believe that the sinplest dish that able to highlight the fresh ingredient is usually the most delicious one. Hoever, sadly, it is hard to retain the authenticity of such dish.


  8. My stomach is definitely now rumbling, so thanks for that! 🙂

    Have you had paella in Spain before? How does it compare? Perhaps a little more emphasis on the herb, coconut milk, and fish versus overall seafood. Paella is one of my favorite dishes, so I’m definitely looking for a competitor!

    • Hi Bret,

      I have tried Paella before, it is completely different. Although paella is also made of rice, the seafood is being mixed together in a pan during the cooking process,
      but for this dish, the dish is cooked as a separate meal and will be eaten together with the rice.

      I can guarantee you that this is a serious competitor to Paella. : )

  9. Wow, that meal looks awesome, and not only that it is also quite healthy which makes it even better. We tend to make home cooked meals like this but of course you can’t beat authentic food. This makes me want to go to Terengganu, especially after seeing that beautiful beach! Thanks for this interesting article.

    • Hi Dan, this is undoubtedly a whole meal of itself, you got carb, protein, fat and veg all in one plate. Nothing can beat home cooked meals, but of course authentic food can only be sourced from its original place – and for this food, Terengganu. Come down and pay us the visit soon!


  10. Nice article; that dish looks and sounds delicious and healthy too. I’ve always loved rice so I’m sure I wold like it.
    If I ever visit Malaysia I’ll have to remember to try this dish out.

    • Hi there, thank you very much for dropping by and give comment.
      If you love rice, then you will definitely have a good time here in malaysia,
      we have variety of rice dish for you to sample on.


  11. Nasi Dagang sounds very delicious! It sounds like a dish that would change based on the region. It also sounds like a dish that can vary from person to person very easily. Can’t wait to try it for myself!

  12. Wow this is making me hungry! I love rice and fish. Would you happen to have any recipes? How much is trip Malaysia? I’m from New York.

    How are the local people there? Are they many tourist spots?

  13. Looks delicious! I had nasi lemak for breakfast every day in Malaysia, with roti. absolutely unlike anything else.

  14. A very simple and flavourful dish indeed!! It has all colours of the local cuisine , using the most easily available ingredients. Please give more insight into the cuisine of Malaysia which i am sure is more vast and exotic too. A very well written article though it focusses on a single item.

  15. I’ve always loved learning about different cultures in different countries. I’ve always wanted to travel and go to different places to learn about these cultures. Malaysia seems like it would be a really fun and interesting place to go. And the food looks absolutely fantastic! Thanks for this awesome and interesting article!

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