Travel Blitz #3 – Motormouth’s Hungry Guide to Kota Bharu, KelantanApril 6, 2012 | 6,878 views
Nasi Kerabu, Ayam Percik & Gulai Kawah @ Yati Ayam Percik, Kota Bharu, Kelantan
You know when you’re knee deep in scheduled plus some random out-of-the-blue travelling stints, your mind tends to sway towards a grim shade of blue with sadistic undertone. In short, you’d wish that you’re right back in the comfort of your home than trudging on foreign soils. That is … if it’s for work.
But then again, I have this tendency to see things from a brighter perspective … more often than not. If you have been blindly/loyally following my rants and ramblings throughout the golden years (circa 2008-2009), maybe you would have understood how I endured (more like enjoyed) the consecutive out-of-town excursions …..
I went on eating sprees.
Lady traders abound @ Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah; easily one of the most iconic market in all of Malaysia!
The span of 3 years between my visit to Kota Bharu, Kelantan did not affect me the slightest, when it comes to recognizing landmarks and good food spots in the predominantly-Muslim town.
Ready to see how I ‘survived’ not one, but TWO visits to Kota Bharu within the same month? Read on, but be warned of the LONG post ahead ……
Clockwise from top left : Ayam Percik (Char-grilled chicken drenched in a creamy, nutty and spicy sauce), Gulai Kawah (chunks of beef cooked in a rich curry-base gravy, within a large wok; hence the name ‘kawah’ or crater), Sambal Lala (clams) and Nasi Kerabu (blue-tinged rice with various herbs) with Solok Lada (stuffed green chillies with fish paste and grated coconut)
-YATI AYAM PERCIK-
At Yati, they serve not only grilled chicken, but also the ‘spare parts’ (innards) of the chicken, grilled in a similar, skewered manner. Akok (lower right pic) is the quintessential Kelantanese dessert of a pancake with coconut milk, palm syrup and eggs.
And trust me when I say … Kelantanese can REALLY take sweetness to another level!
Yati Ayam Percik opens throughout lunch until late night.
The best bet at Yati? The ‘Ayam percik’ and ‘Nasi kerabu’ of course! Seemingly, they have three varieties of rice to choose from. The white, blue and a yellow version, served in similar manner; topped with a mix of raw bean sprouts, chopped herbs and finely-cut cabbage, polygonum leaves (laksa leaf), kerisik (fried grated coconut) and a healthy dollop of sambal.
YATI AYAM PERCIK
847, Jalan Long Yunus,
Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Business hours : 12pm – 11pm daily, 3pm onwards on Fridays.
*Yati Ayam Percik has another branch at Mydin Mall, Subang Jaya
-CAPITAL RESTAURANT NASI DAGANG-
Nasi Dagang; another Kelantan specialty consisting of unpolished rice, double-steamed to a fluffy texture yet without being too hardened or mushy. Served with your choice of meat, hereby I picked “gulai ikan tongkol” (tuna in curry) for the best effect.
Or you can choose to have your typical eggs and toast to start the day with at Capital Restaurant. Be prepared to queue though if you’re taking away. Even if you’re dining in, just sit and wait for them to come to you. And no plates, please. Everyone eats from the brown paper.
You can be sure of a queue in the mornings. Even on weekdays, mind you. Which brings to mind … don’t these people have to WORK?
RESTORAN CAPITAL (NASI DAGANG)
3282, Jalan Post Office Lama
Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Business hours : 7am until finished, or around noon.
*pork-free, like many Chinese restaurants and cafes in Kota Bharu. So don’t be surprised to see Muslims eating here or packing tens of packets of nasi dagang away!
-KEDAI KOPI WHITE HOUSE-
Toasted to a light crisp on the exterior, yet fluffy and soft on the insides – The bread at White House was an act of pure class; served with a block of butter shaped like a maple and homemade coconut jam (kaya) that was brimming with egg-y flavour.
A legacy beyond compare, White House is a MUST stop-over for every first-timer to Kota Bharu. Don’t expect modern kopitiam with air-cond and wifi though. Here, you will be feeding the mosquitoes if you’re seated on the corridor!
KEDAI KOPI WHITE HOUSE
1329-L, Jalan Sultanah Zainab,
Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Business hours : 8am – 1.30pm, 9pm – 1am
Off-days not fixed. This was closed on the second time we were there, on a Tuesday night.
Within walking distance from our hotel (Grand River View @ Jalan Post Office Lama), we had breakfast of nasi dagang at Capital Restaurant, and supper of coffee and traditional toasts with butter and kaya, as well as half-boiled eggs at White House beside the state mosque.
And on one of those nights, we were too drained to call for our cab and walked to Wau Restaurant for dinner. By the way, when I mentioned OUR cab, I literally meant it.
Here at Kota Bharu, it’s a chore to flag cabs from the streets. Unless you know your way around the town buses routes, I’d advise you to either;
1) Rent a car; you can do so from the airport. Not sure about the rate, but around the realm of RM100-RM200 per day, excluding petrol if I am not mistaken.
2) Rent a cab; where you can have your designated driver for the day, ferrying you from place to place around town. A slightly more expensive alternative, but at least you don’t have to worry about getting lost or finding parking spaces in town. Usually, we pay around RM200-RM300/day to our driver, depending on the routes we take.
Wau Restaurant will make you go WOW! instead. Not something you’d expect huh? Bright, clean, crowded and air-conditioned. With wifi to boot. Food and beverages on the pricier side, but still very affordable compared to KL’s prices. A meal should not be more than RM20 per pax on average.
The two of us shared Cucur Udang (prawn fritters), Nasi Kukus (steamed rice) with fried chicken, Rojak Buah (fruit salad with a pungent sauce of shrimp paste) and Keropok Lekor (fish crackers) with sweet chili dip.
The meal at Wau Restaurant came to short of RM40 for the both of us. The environment was very clean and comfortable, in case you’re averse to dining by the streets. Parking spaces are ample too, and you’d see this restaurant crowded in a matter of minutes if you’re there during the peak dinner hours. However, don’t expect much from the food, aside from classics like Keropok Lekor which was passable, and the fried chicken which was reasonably good.
WAU RESTAURANT (Halal)
PT 119, Seksyen 9,
Jalan Tengku Petra Semerak,
Kota Bharu, Kelantan
A Nasi Dagang with Ikan Tongkol that faltered in comparison to Capital Restaurant’s version.
Roti Bakar Siam; toasted bread with margarine, cut into cubes and served with a bowl of coconut milk.
The hankering for more food post-dinner was too overwhelming. We walked from Grand River View again to this stretch of cafes fronting the Kelantan river; and stopped by one Oriental Kopitiam for late night runs of nasi dagang and roti bakar. With a Horlicks dinosaur to boot, though the latter came across as …. not so conventional.
Off Jalan Post Office Lama,
Behind of the hotels fronting the river
Brilliant work of art. This chicken rice shop must have been at least half a century’s old
Grand River View Hotel and its surroundings
A double room with a queen-sized bed @ Grand River View Hotel
A twin bedded room @ Grand River View Hotel
Now, the previous visit we were staying in New Pacific Hotel in town centre, within walking distance to the general hospital (Hospital Raja Perempuan Zainab II), and to Four Seasons Restaurant which serves excellent Chinese Muslim cuisine (we had lunch on TWO occasions this time, but I failed to bring my camera along . … my bad).
But this time around, we stayed at Grand River View Hotel with a supposedly magnificent view of the river of Kelantan (which was murky brown anyway), and sunset between 6.30pm – 7.00pm everyday. But I failed to be impressed by both. Yet the hotel stay proved to be a pleasant one without much fuss and within walking distance to some hot spots.
-PASAR BESAR SITI KHADIJAH-
Your visit to Kota Bharu is never complete without stepping into this hexagon (or was it octagon?) shaped market, dominated by traders of the fairer sex.
I will not proceed to write long, grandfather stories on this famous market in Kota Bharu, but shall let the pictures do the talking. Or of course .. you can refer to the previous post in 2009 if you want to know more about this proud landmark of Kelantanese.
Fancy some stinking good petai (stink beans in pods) or cincalok (fermented small shrimps) in bottles? Or turtles’ eggs?!
Serunding (meat floss) and lekor (fish crackers) are two of the most sought after items at the market. The dodol (sticky and sweet confectioneries flavoured with pandan, gula melaka or durian) is also famous here.
Love the colours of the chillies
Tropical fruits all year round. Notice the resemblance to fresh produce of Thailand?
Sweet and savoury light bites from the market; do NOT miss the AKOK from any of the stalls. Go for those that are swarmed by the locals, for usually the locals know best. Last trip I managed to grab a couple of local desserts as well; from ‘bunga tanjung’ to ‘jala mas’ to ‘tahi itek’.
I tried to fit in more elaborate descriptions and background of each of the place, but to no avail. My mind is somewhat blocked by this ailment that I am having for close to a week now. Pray that this goes off and I can finally kick back and enjoy myself back in Ipoh.
If you seek to read more about my escapades in Kota Bharu; try the following stories;
*I have missed writing about Zakini Nasi Kukus, Cholek at Pantai Cahaya Bulan, the many Buddhist temples in Kota Bharu and authentic Thai cuisine at Sri Chengmai from the last visit. Maybe I will do so when I can find the pictures ….