Bangkok: Authorities in the northwestern Malaysian state of Penang have barred foreigners from cooking in popular hawker stalls in a bid to preserve local food and tastes, media reported Friday.:
Food stall owners have been given one year as of next January to adapt to the new regulation or face losing their licences.
But foreigners will be allowed to work at the roadside kitchens chopping vegetables and doing the dishes.
"We hope by taking this measure we can retain our unique local taste and show visitors the warmth of Penang", the Malaysia Insider quoted Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng as saying.
This year, Malaysia expects to attract 28 million tourists, many of whom visit Penang for famous dishes such as nasi kandar (spiced rice accompanying a curry) and assam laksa (fish soup), among others.
The local government has based its decision on an opinion poll in July and August in which 87.45 percent of the 14,810 respondents said they backed the move.