Kuala Lumpur - Capital Nasi Dagang at Damansara Uptown
Capital Nasi Dagang, one of Kelantan's most famous eateries, has actually *moved* to the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. For nearly two decades, Capital has been purveying one of Kelantan (Malaysia's frontier state in the North-east of the country, bordering Thailand) state's most iconic dishes: the "Nasi Dagang" - semi-glutinous reddish-white coloured rice, steamed with finely-julienned ginger, slivered small red onions, fenugreek seeds and coconut milk. The whole concoction emits an intoxicating fragrance and has a taste which is to-die for.
Traditional accompaniment to the "Nasi Dagang" is the "Gulai Ikan Tongkol", tuna chunks cooked in a coconut-rich, tamarind-steeped and turmeric-enriched curry. I didn't quite take to the dry-ish, hard tuna chunks, but the yellow-ish curry gravy was very tasty.
Other curries available included the Kelantanese Beef "Rendang", a complex, long-stewed dry curry which was mind-blowingly delicious, albeit much sweeter than other versions one would find in other Malaysian states. The Kelantanese are well-known for having a sweet-tooth, so practically *every* dish, even savoury curried ones, have copious amounts of sugar added in!
This new 2 month-old outlet in Damansara has an interesting option on its menu where you get a one-plate meal:a mound of "Nasi Dagang" is surrounded by "Gulai Ayam" (curried chicken), "Gulai Ikan Tongkol" (curried tuna), "Gulai Udang" (prawn curry), Beef "Rendang", "Gulai Sotong" (curried baby squid), half a hard-boiled egg, a small whole crisp-fried "Ikan Masin" (salted fish), and some cucumber-carrot pickles. It's the best breakfast I'd had in a long while. It's also so coconutty-rich, I think my body is still trying to digest this meal - 8 hours later.
The other dish I tried was the "Laksa Kelantan" - which bore *no* resemblance whatsoever to the various other "laksa" noodle dishes from other Malaysian states. This one didn't even resemble Thai "laksa" or "khanom chin" - Malaysians who said Kelantan laksa resemble the Thai version obviously *don't* know what they are talking about :-D
The Kelantanese take on "laksa" has a coconut-enriched sauce flavoured with galangal, onions, "asam keping" (tamarind slices, *not* the more intense tamarind paste or "asam Jawa") and lots of steamed, flaked mackerel. It's served topped with julienned cucumber, raw onions, torch-ginger ("bunga kantan"), raw beansprouts, Vietnamese "rau ram" or mint ("daun kesum"). A dollop of chilli paste is added before serving but, overall, the Kelantanese-Malays seemed to have a lower tolerance for chilli heat compared to their Malay brethren from other states.
The lady-chef who served me in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, last January (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/888441) is now here, and the original outlet in her home-state is currently closed until further notice.
The food here is 100% authentic Kelantanese - with no concessions made to Kuala Lumpur tastes. I'm *definitely* coming back for more.
Capital Nasi Dagang Kelantan
29 Jalan 21/1A
47400 Petaling Jaya
Tel: +6012-921 5200
Bijan is more fusiony, upscale Malay than the "real thing", but is far and away the most popular Malay spot in KL. Do try and book ahead though, it's notoriously busy with private or corporate events on many an evening. Enak is a better bet, family-run - it's located at the upscale Starhill mall, but have a more staid atmosphere than hip, stylish Bijan.
Songket is another upscale Malay option (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/875727) - I take it that you're looking for ethnic-Malay options rather than Chinese-Malaysian?
For a casual lunch in Downtown KL, there's no beating Hutong, the foodcourt in Lot 10 mall, Bukit Bintang, where old KL hawkers like Ho Weng Kee (wanton noodles ), Kim Lian Kee (for fried KL Hokkian noodles), Soong Kee (beef noodles), etc. maintain branches of their famous stalls.
You can also check out Win Heng Seng for traditional Chinese coffeeshop atmosphere and its pork noodles.
Another must-visit for lunch is Sek Yuen for old-world Cantonese stir-fries.
Let me know if you have any specific queries.
Lau - you've been to Kota Bharu as well? I think it's an amazing town with perhaps some of the tastiest local food I'd had anywhere in Malaysia. Some of my posts on Kota Bharu earlier this year covered its most popular food items like:
1) Ayam percik from Yati (perhaps Kota Bharu's best-known eatery)
2) Nasi kerabu or "khao jam" from Tumpat, a Thai-majority district in Kelantan
3) "Nasi tumpeng", "pulot bakar manis" and more "nasi dagang" from Kota Bharu's wonderful central market
4) Kaya toasts from the legendary White House:
5) "Nasi ulam" in Pasir Mas:
6) Nasi Sumatera from Restaurant Hover
7) Breakfast options at the town's most famous breakfast spot: Restaurant Kita
8) Even a surprisingly good Hainanese chicken rice:
What's amazing is that, for a Malay heartland state where 97% of the populace are Malays and devout Muslims, virtually *every* coffeeshop/restaurant in Kota Bharu is run by the Hainanese-Chinese. One thing to note is that the Chinese in Kelantan (majority are Hokkien/Fujianese) are very assimilated into Malay culture in terms of speech & culinary preferences. A Kelantan-Chinese sounded exactly like a Kelantan-Malay when speaking in the local Kelantan-Malay dialect.
Many of the Kelantan-Chinese descended from Hokkien/Hakka/Teochew immigrants who came to Kelantan in the 1790s/1800s. The Hainanese are really Johnny-come-latelys, but still dominated the food trade.
yah very random...i happened to stop by on my way to and from the perhentian islands. now that you say that i remember being surprised there were chinese there bc it was so far from everything else, i guess u can really find us anywhere haha. i did eat and have coffee at a chinese run coffee shop there, i think it mightve been famous or something bc it was jammed and i had some great noodle soup there for breakfast
these places u posted look amazing...i should just move to asia for a few years at some point, the food just kills me there, its so good
Just sharing with you some pics from Kota Bharu:
1) Hainan Association Building
2) Teochew Association Building
3) Kelantan-Chinese Chamber of Commerce along Jalan Kebun Sultan, the unofficial Chinatown district of Kota Bharu
4) A Chinese cultural centre
5) Cantonese restaurant along Jalan Kebun Sultan