Since my previous visits to Kelantan Delights - both of which were for their scrumptious Ramadhan Buffet – read about it here, I had been itching to go back there to try their regular fares. Recently, I had that opportunity to do so.
Kelantanese cuisine has certain Thai influences as the northern part of the state shares a border with southern Thailand. So, it isn’t surprising that a platter of Sireh Daun Kadok (RM21.50) is one of Kelantan Delights’ special appetizer. Very much like the Thai “mieng kam”, as you can see.
I love mieng kam and the Sireh Daun Kadok here is very similar – the difference lies in its special sauce. I find this sauce is more piquant than the usual Thai version and it lifts the whole eating experience that little notch higher.
It’s an open secret that the Kelantanese love their rice. Well, considering the state of Kelantan is rich with lush rice fields, this is hardly surprising. Rice features in most of their main meals, starting from breakfast till supper. At Kelantan Delights, you can find their rice dishes categorised as “Our Specialities” and this claim is really well-founded.
Take their famed Nasi Kerabu (RM19), for example. It’s truly a painstaking process – the making of Nasi Kerabu, literally translated as “rice salad”. The long-grained rice has to be tinted blue with the use of the “bunga telang” (blue pea flower or clitoria flower) and then a myriad of finely shredded edible aromatic herbs and leaves (ulam) are then mixed in. The condiments served with this rice include fish crackers, salted egg, a heap of mixed ulam, a special sambal and your choice of meat eg beef or chicken or fish.
Then there’s the Nasi Dagang (RM20), for what is a Kelantanese meal without this iconic rice dish?
A crowd pleaser, a mixture of white rice and brown glutinuous rice, each spoonful gives you a firmer and more fragrant bite. Traditionally served with “gulai ikan tongkol” (tuna curry), here you can opt for various other curries, not necessarily fish either. I ate this with some beef rendang and the tender meat went superbly with the slightly chewy rice.
I have always been fascinated with the Nasi Tumpang (RM18) and I wonder at its name. Wrapped in a long conical shape using banana leaves, the Nasi Tumpang is interspersed with layers of curry, sambal and meat floss. I was told that traditionally this conical pack of rice is meant for travellers and possibly the way it is packed makes it easy to carry around and possibly, too… if one had too many things to carry on travel, you can “tumpang” your fellow-travellers to carry it for you! The version of Nasi Tumpang served in Kelantan Delights is a bit more luxurious than the basic traditional version – it comes with a generous portion of their fried chicken!
Now, if you are not a rice lover, do try their Laksam (RM14). Well, it’s still made from rice – rice flour, to be exact, but it’s a totally different manifestation, as you can see…
Kinda like the “chee cheong fun”, these smooth rice sheets are rolled up and served with a thick slightly-spicy coconut and fish gravy, very full-bodied, topped with fragrant shredded ulam and a delicious sambal. It is a satisfying one-meal dish by itself, I kid you not.
With all the excellent rice dishes served in Kelantan Delights, one is not allowed to burst at the seams. Otherwise, how else could you try their other dishes? Their main courses, to go with rice, are simply too tempting to resist. Take their Ikan Siakap (RM49) (barramundi), for example… served either with “Daun Kadok” (betel leaves) or “Serai” (lemongrass), both will need lots of rice to go with!
The “Puyoh Goreng” (RM23) (fried quails), “Belud Goreng Chilli Kering” (RM24) (eel kung-poh style) and “Tomyum Kelapa Muda” were all part of the delicious spread we had. I love the sweet soft slithery young coconut flesh in the tomyum – I think I dug out every piece from the coconut placed in front of me! Infused with the spicy tomyum soup, those coconut pieces were very addictive.
Now, if there’s anything the Kelantanese love better than their rice, it has to be their desserts. The colourful Lompat Tikam (RM6) – a smooth pudding-like cake made from glutinuous rice flour, swimming in rich creamy coconut milk … there’s nothing to fault this popular dessert … the palm sugar syrup is served separately so you are in control of the level of sweetness desired.
I love “Lopes” (RM7) – it is one dessert I always zoom in on during my Ramadhan bazaar jaunts. The glutinuous rice of the Lopes served in Kelantan Delights were cooked just right – neither too chewy nor too mushy. Drizzle as much of the thick gula melaka syrup as you wish…that’s the joy of eating Lopes!
It’s a good thing that we can get to sample various other popular Kelantanese desserts, in smaller portions, in their “Royal Plate” (RM14.50). There are Akok, Tahi Itik (such fascinating names!), Jalan Mas and Apam on this platter, all in manageable portions…but even so, do share this – they are too delicious to down it all by yourself!
Durian lovers would love the Pulut Durian (RM9.50) – a very decadent concoction of sweet fragrant durians with coconut milk and glutinuous rice – OMG! Remember to eat this last, as the durian aftertaste is pretty strong (thanks to the quality-grade durians used!) and it may numb your tongue to other flavours after this!
The most impactful dessert for me that evening must surely be the “Ketupat Sotong” (RM9.50)! It’s a cross between a dessert and an appetizer, I would say, due to the marriage of sweet and savoury flavours. This dish is an “acquired taste” – you either love it or hate it. The “loving it” part, for me, came slowly but surely, after the first bite. When I first bit into this glutinuous rice-stuffed squid, I couldn’t understand it. Yes, it’s complicated. It’s such an enigma. There’s the strong fishy marine flavour from the squid, then there’s the chewy rice and then there’s the sweetish-salty gula melaka-based gravy. Such contrasting flavours and textures! But somehow, after that initial onslaught of varying tastes on the palate, I found myself spooning and slurping more and more of that complicating gravy… it got progressively addictive. Before this, I never knew squids and gula melaka can blend in such a diversified and strangely delicious way. Well, this is something you need to try for yourself to see whether it blooms into love or you just stop dead at that one spoonful!
Ground Floor, East Wing
Wisma Consplant 1
No.2 Jalan SS16/4
Tel: 03-5590-2753/019-217-4774 (Intan Razak)
Open Daily from 11.00am till 11.00pm