Malaysians triggered after being left out of top 50 street foods ranking – which put Singapore at #1

Malaysian netizens say there is “something very wrong” with a new list that ranked Singapore first for having the best street food in the world.
The Straits Times

This article was updated at 12:49 on October 23.

  • A ranking of street food destinations by magazine CEOWorld placed Singapore – a country where street food is illegal – at first place, above Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh.

  • The ranking also did not include Malaysia, a long-time food rival of Singapore’s.

  • The ranking was based on a survey of 92,000 business travellers and selected cities that had appeared on similar lists, CEOWorld said.

  • Malaysians were livid, with some saying that there was “something very wrong” with the list, demanding an explanation.

  • When contacted, CEOWorld said that five Malaysian cities were included in the study, but the highest ranked city was Kuala Lumpur at 86th.

Food is a point of pride for many countries, especially Malaysia.

So it is understandable that Malaysians are now triggered by the fact that they were not included in a global list of 50 best places for street food – and Singapore was number one.

Published in September by CEOWorld magazine, the “World’s 50 Best Cities For Street Food-Obsessed Travellers” ranking has left both Malaysians and Singaporeans confused, especially after it was highlighted by travel site TripZilla on Monday (Oct 21).

Also among the top five were common foodie haunts Bangkok, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh and Mumbai. Tokyo and Taipei came in at 19th and 25th respectively.

While Singapore and Malaysia’s longstanding food rivalry is not new, Malaysians seem to have taken extra offence that the Lion City – where selling food on the streets is illegal – is now number one for its supposed street food.


According to CEOWorld, the ranking is based on a survey of 92,000 business travellers and 1,400 corporate travel agents across 86 countries from July to September.

The 50 cities that were selected had appeared more than once on other similar lists, CEOWorld said. In addition, data was also collected from Google Maps, crowd source database Numbeo, and Unicef.

The magazine said that the cities were ranked based on four parameters: number of street food vendors, affordability, number of street food experiences and food hygiene.
Screengrab for CEOWorld

When contacted, CEOWorld told Business Insider that five cities from Malaysia were included in the study.

Namely, the five cities were George Town and Butterworth (Penang), Ipoh (Perak), Kuala Lumpur, and Langkawi.

However, none of them made it into the top 50, and KL was the highest-ranked Malaysian city at 86th place.

Needless to say, netizens were livid in the comments section of Tripzilla’s Facebook post about the ranking. One Facebook user said there was something “very wrong” with the list, while another demanded an explanation.

One netizen complained that the survey respondents – business travellers -were “a crowd not really known for sitting by sweltering roadsides to get some proper street grub”.

Another netizen argued that Malaysian foods are fresher, cheaper and have more variety – parameters included in the CEOWorld survey – as compared to Singapore’s.

Many Singaporeans were also rallying to the side of Malaysians, reasoning that Singapore does not even have street food, since it is illegal to sell food by the street in the country.

One person asked: “What exactly is Singapore street food?”

There were also many people who were just flat out confused by the list, asking where street food can be found in Singapore.

But this is not the first time that Malaysia’s delicious street food has been left out while Singapore’s cuisine was celebrated.

Earlier this year, Netflix released a street food series that picked street hawkers from “the world’s most colourful cities“, including Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines. Malaysia was also excluded from the series.

Netflix said then that Singapore had a “rich diversity of ethnic groups”, resulting in a street food culture “unlike any other place in the world” – much to the ire of Malaysian netizens who argued that their hawker heritage was older and richer than Singapore’s.

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