Escape from the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur to enjoy the laid back and relaxed feel of the East Coast Malaysia. Kuala Terengganu is an old historical town rich in history and tradition of early Muslim settlers in the region. Along with this comes an interesting culinary mix and flavours brought by Arab traders, flavours of southern Thailand and Asian cooking style brought by Chinese settlers.
I rented a car to drive to the hotel located at the outskirts of the city right next to the Floating Zahra Mosque. The winding road takes through lazy roads with little traffic and a couple of roadside cafes. I stopped to enjoy a quick lunch on basic everyday food served in the cafes. You can find a number of seafood dishes, fried prawns, chicken curries, some dark coloured sauces and super sweet local drinks.
A basic serving of rice with a couple of curries costs below $10. I sat on the open sitting area alongside the road to enjoy my chicken curry with rice and fish in spicy sauce, while going through a list of activities in my Lonely Planet edition of Malaysia.
Roadside cafe in Kuala Terengganu
At night time we tried to explore some local restaurants at the outskirts of the city and found Amira Nasi Kukus Seafood restaurants. The quality of seafood in KT, in general, is great. The menu had a number of seafood dishes cooked in local sauces.
Deep-fried Talapia served in mango sauce
Talapia in mango flavoured sauce topped with cheese was a great choice. Prawns are served lightly battered and topped with shredded. A side dish of stir-fried greens makes a perfect meal. Must say, quality of seafood in KT is really good and most restaurants have fresh seafood delivered daily.
Battered deep-fried prawns with cheese
Chinatown in Kuala Terengganu has an interesting mix of Asian restaurants. The food is cooked in Thai and Malay/Chinese style, which is apparently borrowed from Southern Thailand which is very close to KT city.
Restoran Keong Kee is located in the heart of Chinatown specializing in seafood dishes. Fish fillets in tamarind sauce served with eggplant and green bean has a unique taste. Dry chilli crabs have adds a spicy kick to the menu which needs to be balanced with battered pumpkin topped with creamy sauce. The average meal for two costs is RM 90.
Bok Choy in sauce and pumpkin fritters deep-fried and served with mayonnaise makes a great appetizer
Steamed fish served with vegetables and spicy sauce
An interesting area to explore for seafood is to drive across the river from Chinatown, called Seberang Takir. This area has a number of seafood cafes and attracts large crowds over the weekends. The food, in general, is inexpensive, therefore, eating out is popular amongst local residents. You can try local varieties of fish, prawns and squid served deep friend as well as cooked in a variety of sauces.
I stayed at the Regency Waterfront hotel located at the southern tip of the city. There are a number of popular local eat-outs int the vicinity. I tried Nasi Dagang (Stewed fish with glutinous rice) at Mak Ngah Nasi Dagang. This location is very popular with the local crowd for breakfast.
Popular dishes in Kuala Terengganu includes
- Nasi Minyak John - ghee rice to be eaten with curries and eggs
- Kampung dishes include ayam kampung (fried chicken), grilled fish/ squid
- Nasi Kerabu - blue-tinted rice eaten with salted fish
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