Travel: Our Macau/Hong Kong Getaway (6D/6N)!

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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Food: Kelantan Delights @ Sooka Sentral, KL Sentral

I love a good selection of traditional Malay food as much as the next Malaysian; the mouth-watering curries, thick rendangs, all the fragrant herbs & spices... just thinking about it makes my tummy growl embarrassingly loud.

Hence, when we got an invite to Kelantan Delights courtesy of Nuffnang Tastebuddies, I pretty much jumped at the chance for some good food and an introduction to Kelantanese fare. Unfortunately, Adam couldn't make it, so I flew solo that day (okay, I really don't know how you guys do it - evaluate the food, take pics and jot down notes at the same time). :p

Kelantan Delights currently has two branches; one located in Subang Jaya, and another located in Sooka Sentral

The dining area and a large black & white photo mural of one of Kelantan's largest markets.

The branch in Sooka Sentral is usually closed on weekends after five days of bustling business during the week, but last Sunday, they specially remained open to share their passion of Kelantanese food with us.

The decor is quite lovely, tasteful and elegant yet understated, with accents of green & red. I would say it's a great place for business lunches or family gatherings.

Cooling down on a Sunday afternoon with a pleasant lemongrass drink

Mr. Saify, the Managing Director of Kelantan Delights was present that afternoon and gave us a quick introduction to Kelantan Delights. Previously located in KLCC, they have now shifted to this new location in Sooka Sentral (with another branch in Wisma Consplant, Subang Jaya). Their menu is pretty wide, consisting Kelantanese and southern Thailand cuisine, especially featuring some iconic Kelantanese dishes which we were about to try.

The afternoon started off with two of their special appetizers. The first to arrive at our side of the table was the Sirih Daun Kaduk, a dish that got us all ooh-ing and aah-ing due to the lovely presentation. At first glance, it reminded me a little of a cross between pie tee (common Nyonya appetizer also called top hats) and mieng kham (Thai appetizer).

This was difficult to tackle in one mouthful, but you should most definitely try. (I don't think I was looking very ladylike eating this :p)

The combination of textures and flavours was excellent - from the crackling of the wantan-like skin, fresh crunch of the leaf and minced onions, to the savoury dried shrimp and a kick from some chilli padi. The betel leaves had a lovely lingering fresh fragrance too.

The Tom Yam Kelapa Muda was served in shot glasses that afternoon, specially for our tasting. A normal full portion is usually served in a coconut.

I was surprised that the broth was more spicy than it was sour since it was a tom yam, but I loved the richness from the tender coconut flesh (see it skewered together with the prawn?). Couldn't help but wish there was more of the hot, spicy soup - a shotglass wasn't enough! Will have to make a trip back there for the entire portion.

We had a choice of mains, so Carmen, the blogger next to me, and I decided to order both and sample a bit of each other's. I went for the Nasi Kerabu with Ayam Percik, which I really liked.

What made it so enjoyable was the rich, sweet-ish, creamy coconut-based gravy and the fragrant, fluffy blue-tinged rice. The rice is coloured with the natural extract of bunga telang, and I just couldn't stop eating it mixed with the gravy (bad, I know).

The ayam percik, grilled with coconut milk, was acceptably tender despite it being the "white meat" portion (really large piece too, far too much for me to finish) and I enjoyed the extra flavours from the fresh herbs served on the side. Raw bean sprouts are also served as ulam but since I can't even bring myself to eat cooked bean sprouts, I avoided those like the plague. Would most definitely order this Nasi Kerabu again!

The Nasi Dagang with Gulai Ikan fared a little lower in my books in comparison to the Nasi Kerabu. The ikan tongkol (tuna fin) used was firm and fleshy but a tad too salty for me. I personally find brown rice a little hard to eat despite its health benefits, but here, I was pretty surprised at the nice texture of the brown rice. Specially sourced from Kelantan, the grains of the brown rice were pleasantly light. Perfect with the fragrant gravy... now, if only there was more of it! While they say the best nasi dagang should be served with gulai ikan (fish curry), Kelantan Delights also serves up versions with chicken or beef kerutuk to satisfy meat lovers.

Next came the Nasi Tumpang, which proved to be a real hit at our table! This traditional dish was what wives used to prepare for their husbands and contained a whole day's worth of food while they worked in the fields. Here at Kelantan Delights, they serve Nasi Tumpang with a piece of fried chicken.

The Manager of Kelantan Delights sharing a bit of the history behind Nasi Tumpang

I found this really interesting and at the same time, I was so impressed at the creativity of the mak ciks in Kelantan! You would unwrap the Nasi Tumpang and eat it like you would an ice cream cone, from the base to tip. At the mouth of the cone would be breakfast to kick start their day, consisting of rice and egg. Further down the middle would be lunch, a more substantial meal of rice with gulai ikan (fish curry) and sambal udang (prawn sambal). Right at the pointy end would be evening tea, serunding ayam (chicken floss) to keep them satisfied till they came home from the fields to a late dinner.

Unwrapping the Nasi Tumpang - so excited!
We were extra careful unwrapping our Nasi Tumpang cone, because we were told that Kelantan Delights only whips up about 15-18 of these in a day as the entire process takes about 3 hours from start to finish. 


The rice had a very moist texture - much like rice-cakes or nasi himpit - just the way they did in many years ago in Kelantan. To ensure the authenticity of this dish, Kelantan Delights even got an elderly lady from Kelantan to come to KL to train their kitchen staff. I especially liked the prawn sambal (spicy and sweet at the the same time) and the serunding ayam.

Next up was the Laksam, a dish with lovely fragrant gravy. Laksam consists of flat rice noodles served in a thick gravy made up of santan (coconut cream) and fish (in this case, it was ikan kembong), blended together for a rich, creamy consistency.

I'd never tasted Laksam before, but it was an interesting first experience. The "noodles" were served to us in little coils - at first glance, they really reminded me of chee cheong fun. However, these were thicker, and less chewy. I really loved the gravy though, the richness of the coconut and the fragrance from the daun kesum really hit the spot. The flavours really reminded me of Singapore's katong laksa.

All throughout lunch, we had been speculating about our dessert, which was listed as ketupat sotong (squid rice cake... but as a dessert?) and an ambiguous sounding lompat dan tikam (literally translated to a very brutal sounding 'jump and stab') 

Well, we didn't have to speculate much longer. As it turns out, Lompat dan Tikam was a combination of the red glutinous rice ball and the green rice flour pudding. Both have contrasting textures but not much flavour to them; you would have to eat it with the santan and gula melaka (palm sugar) for the full experience.

A closer look at the ketupat sotong...
The Ketupat Sotong was really one of its kind... certainly not something I'd crave for, but interesting enough to be tried at least once. The squid is stuffed with a combination of glutinous rice and coconut and then cooked with pandan, ginger and brown sugar. The end result is a sweet, yet savoury (and slightly fishy too) flavour. 

Kelantan Delights was a very pleasant experience, food was good and flavours were kept rich and robust. Much praise must be given to them for bringing Kelantanese cuisine to us here in Klang Valley and for balancing age-old traditional receipes with a few new elements of fusion and creativity. It was most definitely a satisfying afternoon with lots of good food, but also an eye-opening foray into the world of Kelantan food for me... Thank you Kelantan Delights, and Nuffnang for having me! :)

Kelantan Delights | Site
No. 1-5, Level 1, Sooka Sentral,
Jalan Stesen Sentral,
50470 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603 2785 1945
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri, 11am-10pm. Closed weekends.

Another branch can be found at:
Ground Floor East Wing,
Wisma Consplant 1,
No 2, Jalan SS16/4
47500 Subang Jaya.
Tel: +6 03 5611 7845
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 12pm-3pm & 6pm-11pm; Sat, Sun & PH 12pm-11pm

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