The East Coast of Malaysia is unforgettable for its stunning beaches and idyllic life, and its cuisine will complete your idea of paradise
One can spend weeks enjoying island life on the East Coast of Malaysia. Its white sand beaches, pristine dive sites and sea creatures, resort-life pampering at spas, green forests and rivers and clear blue skies are all tempting but not as much as its food.
There are many activities here that can make you hungry, especially swimming, boating and diving, so it is fantastic that the East Coast of Malaysia is a haven of delicious local foods.
Many of these dishes have a rich heritage and history, showcasing the influences of trade, local agriculture and fishing, indigenous people and religion. Further north, you get Thai elements that can be seen in the salads, soups, curries and rice dishes.
If you’re a foodie, hire a car and drive along the East Coast for food adventure and discovery. You can picnic on beaches, or stop at kampung eateries or bustling little towns.
The locals are all friendly and helpful and you can ask them for recommendations if you don’t know what to eat.
You can also look for the stalls with long queues.
Kuantan – Patin Fish & Nasi Dishes
Apart from lovely beaches and islands, Kuantan is known for its mouth-watering food. It’s a fusion of Indian, Chinese and some Arab influences.
There are many dishes that you will enjoy, including Nasi Kebuli, a traditional rice dish of the local Malays that is cooked with coconut oil and mixed with meat, raisins, onions, cloves, olives and lemongrass – very Arabic, yet also Thai and Malay.
Another popular dish is Ikan Patin Masak Tempoyak (Silver Catfish in Durian Paste), a traditional dish of river villages because of the abundance of Patin fish. The tempoyak (durian paste sauce) is rich and delicious and shows how villagers make use of local produce to enhance the seafood.
Kuala Terengganu – Coconut Milk & Banana Leaf Goodies
Even before we reach Kuala Terengganu, further north, one can smell the rich coconut milk simmering to make Laksam, a local highlight with noodles, herbs and fish in coconut milk gravy.
Then there’s Satar, a concoction of fish, shallot and ginger paste, basted with coconut milk and wrapped in a cone shaped banana leaf and barbecued over a low charcoal fire with a bamboo stick.
An ideal snack is Pulut Lepa, a glutinous rice dish flavoured with coconut milk and also barbecued in banana leaf. The food doesn’t just taste good, it looks good too!
Kelantan – Rice & Sweet Things
The locals of Kelantan love their rice, which is why the surrounding padi fields are a common sight. Head for a local breakfast favourite: Nasi Berlauk. This rice dish is served with fish or chicken and vegetables, and spiced with turmeric and galangal in yellow gravy.
Other rice dishes include Nasi Kerabu, a salad served with fried breaded fish, keropok keping (thin and crispy prawn cracker), salted egg, solok lada (chillies stuffed with minced fish and grated coconut) and pickled garlic, and dressed with budu (salted anchovies) sauce. Nasi Tumpang is a cone-shaped banana leaf with rice, omelette, meat floss and chicken or shrimp curry with sweet gravy.
Need more meat? Ayam Percik is wood-fired chicken with sweet coconut gravy dressing.
When in Kelantan, sweets and desserts are a must. Che Mek Molek, which translates to “pretty lady of Kelantan”, is fried sweet potato with sugar syrup filling, while Puteri Mandi is a colourful dessert made of glutinous rice flour balls mixed in freshly-grated coconut and sugar or brown sugar (Gula Melaka).
Lompat Tikam is another local sweet dessert, made out of coconut milk, rice flour, glutinous rice, brown sugar and pandan leaf extract.
When holidaying in the East Coast of Malaysia, complement your beach and island adventures with the enjoyment of the colourful and flavourful local food. They will make your holiday even more unforgettable.
For more information, contact: Tourism Malaysia (Singapore), 80 Robinson Road, #01-01 B/C/D, Singapore 068898, Tel: 6532 6321, Fb: Facebook.com/TMSingapore.