Growing up with a Malaysian father, my palate is attuned to the culinary variety of Malaysian flavours. I’m from London, and Southeast Asian cuisine is limitless there, but in Oxford, I often find myself craving the taste of nasi lemak or satay. As someone who’s British-Asian, I don’t often have the opportunity to go back to Malaysia. Food has always provided me with a connection to my culture, as it transports me back home, where I enjoy my family’s cooking. By eating or cooking (or at least attempting to cook) these cultural dishes, I have managed to find a way to appreciate my culture when I am physically isolated from it. Since I can’t always rely on my unfortunate culinary skills, I have had to find other ways to indulge in Malaysian culture, reminding myself of dishes I enjoyed sharing with my family as a child. 

So, in pursuit of a nostalgic taste of home, I am excited to have discovered not just one, but two, amazingly Malaysian hidden gems in Oxford! 


Zheng, nestled in the heart of Jericho, is a Malaysian restaurant named after the 14th-century Chinese Admiral, Zheng He. Whenever my parents come to visit me in Oxford, my dad will (without fail) insist on eating here. Boasting a cosy interior adorned with polaroid pictures, the restaurant offers a diverse menu, including Chinese and Singaporean dishes. The lunch box set menu is a budget-friendly option for students, featuring rice with various meats.

Zheng excels in providing a flexible range of Asian dishes, including classic Chinese like mapo tofu, sweet and sour chicken, and crispy aromatic wraps. In terms of the more traditional Malaysian food, Zheng offers a variety of well-loved dishes, such as nasi goreng kampung (fried rice), rendang (beef or chicken in a coconut sauce), or my personal favourite, char kuey teow (flat noodles). Every dish bursts with spicy, rich flavours, consistently meeting my expectations. My go-to is the prawn and chive dumplings. Whilst the temptation to order everything arises, generous portion sizes ensure you never leave hungry.

The true star at Zheng is the drinks menu, boasting the best teh tarik, my all-time favourite Malaysian drink. A hot milk beverage made with condensed milk, teh tarik derives its name from the process of “pulling” the beverage between two containers to create a foamy, silky texture. It is popular not only in Malaysia but all across Southeast Asia. Honestly, Zheng’s teh tarik is incredibly addictive, with the perfect amount of sweetness, so that, despite my lactose intolerance, I find myself ordering this tea every time. 


Moving on to Kopitiam in Summertown; a hidden gem on South Parade. This quaint restaurant offers a Malaysian-inspired selection akin to Zheng. The name comes from the Malaysian word for “coffee house”, and offers a similar selection of Malaysian dishes to Zheng. Dishes like the wonton noodles and Singapore laksa are authentic and spicy. 

However, what sets Kopitiam apart is its Hainanese chicken rice, a rare find in my culinary adventures. Considered the national dish of Singapore, Hainanese chicken rice is chicken steamed in a pot with rice, ginger, and garlic. It’s a juicy, succulent dish that always satisfies my cravings when I’m in need of some comfort food. Whenever I land in Malaysia, the first meal I usually have is chicken rice, and despite its simplicity I can never get enough of this tasty delight! Paired with some cucumber slices, chilli, and some chicken broth soup you can have the perfect chicken rice all for an affordable £11.90! With great prices that deliver an amazing culinary experience, it’s definitely a place to try if ever you’re in North Oxford.

So, whether you want to savour the diverse Asian delights at Zheng or indulge in the authentic, zingy flavours at Kopitiam, Oxford will definitely take you on a unique culinary journey that will satisfy the cravings of Malaysians and newcomers alike.