Nasi Dagang, Nasi Kerabu, Laksam, Nasi Kerabu, Nasi Tumpang, lekor, ayam percik and the works. We get these easily enough in KL or PJ, at times in night markets and usually at some roadside stalls. More often than not, food is good and prices are cheap.
However, night markets and roadside stalls are not entirely dependable. Some are open at night, some mornings and usually not at regular hours. Hygiene could be another concern. And comforts of dining in a nice establishment when you’re hosting some friends? One can’t beat the ambiance of a nice restaurant.
I know now where to host my muslim clients, fellow bloggers from overseas and even some of my chef friends who are interested in looking for east coast cuisine. Just like Penang or Melaka food, cuisine from the east coast of Malaysia – namely Kelantan and Terengganu is very different from the state of Selangor.
These dishes are still generally ‘Malay’ food, but with very distinctive flavours, ingredients and presentation.
For the KL Restaurant Week I had the opportunity to step into Kelantan Delights in Subang Jaya recently. The interior looks as good inside as it is from its exterior facade.
Sitting arrangements are comfortable, the vibe relaxed and most importantly, food is authentic.
We previewed the KL Restaurant Week menu, starting with the set lunch at RM38 nett and dinner set at RM78 nett.
Keropok Lekor, a uniquely east coast snack of fish cake came freshly fried and is definitely one of the better ones I have had in KL. This followed quickly with the popular hot soup (sup buntut) which is akin to our western oxtail but with our local spices of course. The version here was clear and flavourful.
The main is Nasi Dagang, a Kelantanese delicacy with a choice of fish, chicken or prawn curry. Each curry is different and I’ll recommend the prawn curry for those who prefer their curries sweet-ish and creamy.
The fish is “tongkol”, a smaller member of the tuna family but is not as valued as the bluefin or yellowfin used for sashimi and sushi. When fresh, the flesh is a deep red. When cooked in curry, the meat is hard, dry, and rather fishy. Its unattractive, dark colouring adds to its unsavouriness.
The version we had that night was exactly as above, and that seems to be common for tongkol in nasi dagang. That was one of the reasons why I never like Tongkol. I had better versions but that was in someone’s home.
The chicken curry is pretty standard. Each dish of Nasi Dagang is served with the mandatory side of sour pickled cucumbers, carrots and onions.
Tastewise it is authentic enough as they used the rice grains from Kelantan. Yes, there is actually a type of rice called “nasi dagang rice” that’s from Kelantan which is the reddish brown glutinous rice you see here.
Some cooks substitute this with Siamese and common glutinous rice, which then could be considered “not so authentic”, if you know what I mean.
Fenugreek seeds (halba), garlic & shallots (sliced finely) and ginger are normally added and cooked with the rice. I stirred my little hill of nasi dagang and still couldn’t detect any of those spices embedded so I asked Chef Mus about it. He said these were finely blended and added into the rice during the cooking process so it’s not visible.
Desserts for the set lunch and dinner are Lompat Tikam and Teh/Kopi Goyang. Lompat Tikam is made from rice flour, pandan leaves (for the green colour), coconut milk and drizzled with palm sugar (gula melaka). The red orb you see below is coloured glutinous rice, which is an addition as the original does not have this.
The original is basically 2 layers of white and green custard eaten chilled with the palm sugar.
Teh/Kopi Goyang here refers to the swaying motion of the layers within this glass. Chemistry would have taught you that it’s due to the difference in the density of the liquid. This is essentially teh (tea) or coffee with milk.
We moved on to the dinner menu next. As you can see, if you are unfamiliar with Kelantanese cuisine, there’s no better place than Kelantan Delights to get acquainted with this unique cuisine!
Do ask for Chef Mus, for he’s more than happy to share with you everything about Kelantanese cuisine, the pride of his home state. :DD
Eating dauh sirih isn’t for the young and hip of today. It is associated with the old and at the moment almost a lost culture in the city. I salute Kelantan Delights for providing this option on their menu as it helps to keep an old tradition alive, and no doubt for those who bought their grandparents or parents here they would be thrilled to be able to enjoy this delicacy in the comforts of an air-conditioned restaurant.
It also offers an option to those who wants to try it as the process of preparing one to consume can be an exercise in culture. And in the long run, possibly converting some of the younger generation to appreciate this as well!
Ingredients for sirih – daun sirih (betel leaf) chilli padi (bird eyes chillies), onions, dried shrimps, peanuts, kerisik (grated coconut which is toasted), ginger and skin of limau purut.
Put the whole ‘package’ into your mouth and chew! Does this reminds you of mieng kam, the Thai version of this salad?
Well visually and the act of wrapping the leaf is similar though the ingredients and taste are not entirely the same. The best explanation is to try one yourself. 🙂
After the daun sirih we sipped hot and sour tomyam soup before the mains. For RM78 NETT, I thought this dinner set is a steal considering that you get a whole Siakap as ONE of the many mains.
This Siakap Daun Kadok is a specialty of Chef Mus and is one of their signature dish in Kelantan Delights. It is easy to understand why. The sauce is superb and unique from the usual sweet, sour, spicy sauce though it has the flavours of all three.
The gravy is slightly concentrated and at first sip, a sweet spiciness hit me. As I swallow, the spiciness developed to a nice, long burn on the tongue and at the back of the throat.
As I helped myself to more of the fish and sauce, I noticed sour nuances coming through followed by a lingering sweetness. If there’s a dish I’ll recommend highly here, this would be it.
The telur dadar, paku pakis belacan, sambal udang petai and ayam percik were all adeptly prepared. Ingredients are fresh, the chicken perfectly tender and no dish were overly flavoured or greasy.
Rice is served with the mains. Dessert is Sira Pisang, which looked alarmingly diabetically sweet but rest assured it was NOT.
All that for RM78 NETT. It is definitely worth the price! And this is a special menu for KL Restaurant Week from 4th to 11th Oct only. The ala-carte prices are certainly not as attractive so do take advantage of the KL Restaurant Week to savour meals at incredible prices. Take your pick here –> http://klrestaurantweek.com/
Though we were done with the KL Restaurant Week menus, Chef Mus spoiled us further with his Nasi Kerabu and Nasi Tumpang.
Now, these 2 are classic Malaysian East Coast dishes as well.
As history goes, Nasi Tumpang was meant to be a meal for the farmers who sets out daily very early to the fields/sea. They usually do not come home till late. The wife (or whoever) would pack the rice together with leftovers of dishes (you can imagine how poor & how hard life was for them) & wrap it up in this shape. I seriously doubt it was so sharp a cone back then but I would say the shape was more or less tall & triangular.
Essentially Nasi Tumpang is a SIMPLE, multi-tiered meal of alternating rice, fish floss (serunding), fish curry and egg.
The rice within the cone has the texture of rice cakes – very moist, ‘overcooked’ and soft. The luxury version here at Kelantan Delights is served with a piece of fried chicken.
Nasi Kerabu Kelantan is a very healthy dish but requires tedious preparation work due to the many components that makes up the dish. The Nasi Kerabu at Kelantan Delights came with most of the imperative ingredients; salted egg, prawn crackers, ulam (fresh salad) and the rice is topped with kerisik (toasted grated coconut) and curry. I asked for budu sauce (fermented fish sauce) and we had Chef Mus to mix everything up; just as how it should be eaten.
This plate came with ayam percik at the side but the more common versions are served with solok lada (a stuffed chilli with fishmeat) and fried fish.
Interesting wasn’t it? For me, food is not just about eating, but also an exercise culture, history and tradition. While Kelantanese food is not new to me, I hope that this post will inspire as well as educate those who are not entirely familiar with the cuisine. 🙂
A trip to the East Coast (namely Kelantan and Terengganu) is a long journey and you have the option of saving yourself the hassle by hopping into Kelantan Delights right here in Subang Jaya!
Do take advantage of the set menus during the KL Restaurant Week and come dine with a few friends or with your family.
Bookings for KL Restaurant Week 2013 can be made from now til 29th September 2013.
Book here: http://klrestaurantweek.com/
Kelantan Delights Restaurant [Subang]
Ground Floor East Wing, Wisma Consplant 1, No 2 Jalan SS16/4, 47500 Subang Jaya, Selangor
Contact: +6 012-602 7845
LUNCH: 12PM – 3PM [WEEKDAY] / 12PM – 4PM [WEEKEND] DINNER: 6PM – 10PM [WEEKDAY] / 5PM – 10PM [WEEKEND] HALAL – JAKIM CERTIFIED