Outside of the resorts, you'll be at a loss to find Malay specialties in a pleasant restaurant setting, because most locals either cook at home or eat at hawker stalls. If you ask for the best dishes, people will point you in all sorts of directions, to roadside places with no signboards or hawkers selling treats from the back of their car even. To sample as many varieties of local Malay cuisine, your best bet is to visit the Central Market food stalls, where you'll find a variety of freshly cooked dishes for cheap. Likewise, Chinese food can be found in food stalls in Chinatown and coffee shops along Jalan Kampong Cina (pronounced Chee-na).
If you're in town for mealtime and want a more comfortable dining experience, Ocean Restoran (Lot 2679 Jalan Sultan Janah Apitin; tel. 09/623-9154) is the best pick. Near the waterfront in what looks like a warehouse, Ocean prepares tender prawns, light butterfish, and juicy crab in local and Chinese recipes that are very good -- Ocean is well loved locally. Don't count on much from the alfresco decor, which is simple plastic tables and chairs.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.