I've got a trip up-coming to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Yay! But I have a severe allergy to monosodium glutamate (MSG). Boo! It triggers severe migraines so I normally avoid it at all costs, but that's not always easy when abroad. I know in certain parts of asia, MSG is used like common salt. In your experience, is it super prevalent in Malayasian cooking? Example: I hear awesome things about all the street vendors in KL, would I be safe trying street food?

Bonus: Is there any easy way to inquire about or avoid MSG without offending every restaurant I visit?

  • MSG is definitely something that is used alot in chinese cooking. Malaysia has a significant chinese influence it wouldnt surprise me
    – Simon
    Mar 9, 2013 at 22:36

3 Answers 3


You won't able to survive street food. Please limit your consumption to only eating in restaurants.

You can ask the waiter politely by telling them :

"Tolong tidak pakai MSG / Micin, saya mempunyai alergi"

... which means "Please do not add MSG, I have an allergy to it."

  • what makes you think that the food in a restaurant is better than street food? If I had an allergy, I would rather eat stuff I can see being prepared and where I can talk to the cook.
    – Jacco
    Jan 30, 2012 at 9:55
  • 6
    In Indonesia/Malaysia, the street vendor won't admit that they use MSG. Usually the MSG was being poured to the soup/meat before they start to sell their food. Secondly, since you are a foreigner, you won't able to make an effective communication to the street vendor. For your own info, sometimes the street vendors also use hazardous substances like Borax to make their food lasts longer. Borax is commonly found in detergent or cleansing agents. Jan 30, 2012 at 10:03
  • and of course chances of finding someone who speaks English in the better restaurants are a lot greater than with your average street vendor, and they're more used to dealing with special diets as well as foreigners.
    – jwenting
    Jan 30, 2012 at 12:48
  • I think this post is incorrect. You will be able to survive on street food!
    – Clayton
    Mar 10, 2013 at 9:10
  • @cmiller8, the poster has a severe allergy to MSG. Trying Malaysian Street Food that mostly use MSG will cause problem for him. Mar 10, 2013 at 13:46

I found some quite useful information in this forum. Personally I would advise you to depend mostly on fruits and packaged foods, and verify the ingredients.


It's not rude to ask about MSG in the food in Malaysia and a majority of vendors and waiters you encounter will speak English well enough to tell you.

Don't miss out on the street food in Malaysia as it some of the best in the world!

  • -1 The poster asked about street food. Note that most street vendors do not speak English nor understand English. Assuming them understand English may cause problem to the asker. Mar 10, 2013 at 14:00

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