A couple weeks ago I managed to check off the list of states to travel in Malaysia, finally stepped foot in Kelantan after all these years thanks to a colleague’s wedding invitation.
ayam bakar, solok ladi, daging bakar
While it was only for a short day-trip and the wedding reception involved food, I can’t help but stopped by one of the more famous nasi kerabu place for a pre-kenduri brunch.
After consulting my brother’s friend who’s a Kelantanese (my brother spent years in Kelantan as a uni student), we decided to visit Liniey Nasi Kerabu Tumis in Kota Bahru town.
The restaurant is just over 10 minutes from the airport. Renting a car to move about in KB is probably the easiest way to move about this town. Pro tips: search with the term “kereta sewa” and you’d usually get it a bit cheaper than “car rental”.
The restaurant was rather busy in the brunch hours when we were there. There was a queue, we lined up for our turn and waited for our turn to pick the version of rice (dagang/kerabu) and lauk (dishes).
liniey nasi kerabu kota bahru
I opted for the blue nasi kerabu (color from butterfly-pea flower) with ayam bakar, daging bakar, and a piece of solok lada (stuffed green chili).
The meat were flavorful if not a bit sweet, as most things in Kelantan often is. If you’ve not had solok lada before, imagine yong tau fu, but also with shredded coconut, and spicier, I love it.
options of dishes to choose from, and that long queue
The brunch at Liniey Nasi Kerabu Tumis was lovely, a word of caution – the drinks was still too sweet despite us ordered it “kurang manis”, you’ve been warned.
Address: Lieniey Nasi Kerabu Tumis Jalan Abdul Kadir Adabi, 15200 Kota Bharu, Kelantan GPS: 6.125033, 102.258844 Hours: 7:30 am to 2 pm
Over the CNY period my family and I went over to Aman Suria to meet up with a couple cousins for lunch. At the time was also a period when my dear friend Suanie kept talking about Kesom Kafe and their nasi kerabu basically every few hours, so I decided it was a good venue for us to gather for lunch.
Update 2021: unfortunately this fantastic place is closed permanently
Cafe Kesom, they could use a bigger sign board tho
Well, to start, it took me a couple go-around to locate Kesom. See, the restaurant is located right below blook warehouse (same owner apparently), whose signboard is about 10x bigger than the tiny little yellow-on-white Kesom board located behind some plants.
It’s like they purposely want to make it difficult.
now that’s what I call a sumptuous lunch
Once inside though, the treasure hunting effort paid off.
Kesom is tastefully decorated like a modern cafe, but carries some of the most traditional Kelantanese dishes prepared properly and served on wax paper akin to roadside stalls in the East Coast, all for asking price that is more than reasonable.
pulut inti, mee siam, nasi dagang, nasi kerabu
The nasi kerabu (RM 8) and nasi dagang (RM 7) were both delicious and packed with all the traditional ingredients you’d expect these dishes to have. The blue rice, chopped greens, meat floss, sambal, and even telur masin were all there. It was superb.
some centerplates to share
Additionally, they also offer quite a few dishes for sharing. Ayam goreng berempah (RM 7.90) was crispy and crunchy, gulai ayam kawah and tempe were all rather delicious as well.
For those who likes traditional Malay kuih, I’d also recommend their pulut inti.
good times with family & relatives
After lunch at Kesom, I somehow understood Suanie’s obsession, and while I won’t have the same nasi kerabu 5 times a week, I think anyone who love this traditional Kelantanese dish should pay Kesom a visit.
After passing Jalan Semarak en route to work for the past 6 months or so, I finally decided to check out the wet market/medan selera look alike building at the intersection of Jalan Semarak and Jalan Padang Tembak in the morning.
It turned out to be another good food find.
Nasi Kerabu at Medan Selera Semarak
Selera Semarak is one of the older type of food court serving mostly Malay and Mamak food. After scouting the place for a little bit, I decided to order nasi kerabu from the second stall on the right of the entrance.
the blue colored rice is the result of butterfly-pea flower (kembang telang)
For those who aren’t familiar with nasi kerabu, it is a traditional Kelantanese dish with the signature blue rice. The color is obtained from the buds of butterfly-pea flower (kembang telang), which also gives it a distinct aroma.
Chopped long bean, cabbage, coconut sambal, and keropok (prawn crackers) makes up the rest of the dish. I added a fried chicken drumstick for good measure.
a cacophony of flavors, perfect for breakfast
I really liked the coconut sambal though it proved to be quite spicy, the aroma of blue rice and freshness of those vegetable made this a pretty awesome dish. For about RM 5 including the chicken, this was definitely one of the better breakfasts I’ve had in recent time.
Address: Selera Semarak Jalan Semarak Kementah, Kuala Lumpur GPS: 3.175878,101.720737 Hours: Breakfast and Lunch
This blog is often criticized by many of my Muslim colleagues and friends for its lack of halal/pork free food content, well, here’s an entry that will perhaps right things a little. (wait, I do have a little less than 30% of my posts in this category, oh well..)
A couple weeks ago I was invited to a classy Malay restaurant hidden in the midst of the city for a food review –Songket restaurant.
Songket restaurant at Jalan Yap Kwan Seng
Songket is actually a type of traditional Malay and Indonesian fabric that is hand woven in silk or cotton, and often with intricate gold or silver threads in them. In short, the restaurant, like the fabric, is one of class and quality.
Anyway, lets get on with the dishes!
satey & cucur udang, otak-otak, begedil
We started out with appetizers, naturally.
There were satey ayam & daging (beef and chicken satey, RM 18) that is served with peanut sauce and some raw onion, cucumber, and ketupat, just like how they’re supposed to be. The meat were marinated properly, succulent and void of impurities like hard tendon or chicken skin, tasty.
Then there’s cucur udang (prawn fritters, RM 10) in light batter and home made chili sauce with a kick. I was happy that they also serve Northern style otak-otak (steamed fish cake, RM 12) with generous amount of seafood in it.
My favorite appetizer of the night though, has gotta be the begedil (deep fried potato cutlet RM 10) – it is basically deep fried mashed up potato with chicken (or meat). A little sweet, a little savory, and positively brilliant!
kerabu mangga, ayam sambal petai, ayam lemak asam gelugur
Kerabu mangga (raw mango salad, RM 12) is another Northern dish that is very similar to those found in Thailand, certainly appetizing.
I like the way they prepare the petai by splitting them into half and taking away the centre stem for the ayam sambal petai (chicken with bitter beans, RM 28) dish. Personally though, I still think that petai goes better with seafood instead of chicken, but this dish was actually not bad.
Ayam lemak asam gelugur (chicken with tumeric, coconut milk, curry gravy, RM 23) is a light curry dish that I thought could use a little more kick, I suppose this has to do with catering tourists, you should be able to ask for hotter version if only you ask.
nasi minyak, pandan nasi lemak, nasi kerabu
We sampled 3 types of rice at Songket, the nasi minyak (oily rice, RM 6) goes well with curry dishes, pandan nasi lemak (RM 6) is aromatic with a light pandan taste, and nasi kerabu (rice with herbs and vegetables, RM 8 ) can almost be eaten just by its own. I would recommend any of these over the normal steamed rice.
ikan siakap masak manis, pucuk paku goreng, kari udang raja
Ikan siakap masak manis (sweet style barramundi, RM 60) definitely tastes like a traditional Malay dish, the fish was fresh, and tomato, chili, onion, and other ingredients complimented the seafood perfectly, I like it.
My favorite dish of the day though, has gotta be pucuk paku goreng (stir fry wild fern, RM 12), the texture of fern and its taste are something that can’t be substituted by another vegetable. Chili, garlic, shallots, and a few shrimps made up the rest of this fabulous dish. This is a must-order.
For those who wants the ultra luxurious dish, there’s the kari udang raja (king prawn in curry, RM 75). The prawns were definitely huge, and there were some eggplants to go with in the rich, thick, curry.
rusuk panggang (chargrilled marinated short ribs)
Rusuk Panggang (chargrilled marinated short ribs, RM 60) is dish not to be missed by any meat lovers. The marinate as well as the grilling were perfect. As a result, the ribs were really tender to the point where you can cut it just by using the spoon. The flavor too were absolutely marvelous. Best of all, this is served with the same begedil that I really like.
durian tiramisu, sago gula melaka, pandan pudding
Then it was time for desserts.
For the durian lovers, you must not miss the durian tiramisu (RM 15), rich, creamy, and full with that unmistakable durian aroma that will probably prevent you from taking this to your hotel room.
The sago gula melaka (RM 10) is a classic, with plenty of sago swimming in coconut milk and palm sugar beneath it, another rich dessert. Pandan pudding (RM 10) is well, a pandan infused pudding with palm sugar. After the other two desserts, this one came across without much excitement for me.
traditional dance, KY & Haze at Songket restaurant
Songket is not just about food, if you stay a little longer on Mon-Sat, by 9pm there are traditional dance performances of Chinese, Malay, Indian, and native origins. A pretty cool show especially if you happen to have foreigner friends.
The prices at Songket is definitely a little on the high side, but the food quality, ambiance, and all the extras that were thrown in definitely make this a place worthy of a visit especially if you’re looking for fine Malay cuisine.
Address:Songket Restaurant & Bar 29 Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, 50450 Kuala Lumpur GPS: 3.162557, 101.714998 Tel: 03 2161 3331