When Puan Norma Bt Salleh from Kota Bharu was persuaded to relocate to cook up her famous Kelantanese dishes at a cafe in Petaling Jaya, I’m sure she didn’t quite expect that the cafe would turn out to be a military-themed one and fully decked out in WWII memorabilia!
Short for “Taste of Kota Bharu”, TOKB is unique, being the first ever military concept cafe serving affordable Kelantanese dishes. The founders of the cafe want to preserve history and highlight the role Kota Bharu played in the early days of World War II. Not many people know that the Japanese actually invaded Kota Bharu 70 minutes before the infamous attack on Pearl Harbour which ignited World War II on 8 December 1941.
In this part cafe-part-viewing-gallery, guests will get some fascinating insights of the turbulent period from the many wartime memorabilia decorating TOKB. It’s also a way of paying tribute to war heroes who lost their lives in the tragic war.
The tempting dishes cooked up by Kak Ma (as Puan Norma is fondly called) are from traditional recipes passed down through generations from her ancestors. Using mostly ingredients sourced from Kota Bharu, the Nasi Kerabu (RM23), Laksam (RM13.90), Ikan Keli Paprik (RM12) and Nasi Dagang (RM5.30) are dishes that Kak Ma proudly declares as her heritage.
Signature dish: Nasi Kerabu – rice with ayam goreng, kerisik sambal ikan, solok lada, salted egg, herbs and vegetables, budu and sambal belacan. Flavours and textures combine and balance well on this mengkuang platter and it’s something we’d go back for.
Laksam – flat rice noodles in creamy white fish and coconut broth with aromatic herbs, vegetables and sambal belacan. The noodles are smooth enough but I wish the fishy broth is served boiling hot.
Rice with Ikan Keli Paprik, Acar & Sambal Belacan – the sambal on the fish is very good although it’s kinda tedious picking through the bones of the fish.
Nasi Rocket with Fish Serunding (RM19.90) with layers of gulai ikan tongkol, gulai udang, fish serunding and fried chicken. Traditionally known as nasi tumpang, Kelantanese women often pack rice and curries in cone-shaped packages using banana leaves for their menfolk when they go to work.
TOKB also serves Nasi Rocket with beef serunding for RM20.90.
Ayam Masak Merah (RM12.00) – my least favoured dish here ; the flavours don’t really add up to my idea of a good “mask merah” recipe.
Keropok Lekor (RM4.90)
Roti C4 (RM7.90) buttered toast with kaya and soft-boiled eggs: a nice balance of sweet and savoury flavours on a thick toast!
There are some western items on TOKB’s menu though and one that stands out is the Soldier Teriyaki Burger (RM21). The ensemble consists of a a charcoal bun holding a piece of grilled boneless chicken teriyaki, fried egg sunny side up, cheese, pineapple and gherkins served with crispy fried onion rings on the side.
If you have been to Kota Bharu, you’d know that Teh Atom is very popular there. It’s essentially teh tarik with honey, pulled till so foamy that the foam somehow stiffens and stick down the glass!
Teh Atom (RM9)
Yamashitomojito (RM12.50) lemongrass, mojito and 7-up
If you are craving for some Kelantanese fares or just want to chill-out in a cool unique venue, this 6,000sq ft spacious cafe with a semi-outdoor are for alfresco dining is worth a visit. There’s a cozy mezzanine floor, too and if you are thinking of holding a private party, the whole place can accommodate up to 300 pax.
Ground Floor, Menara Inspiration
3A Jalan 13/2, Section 13
46100 Petaling Jaya
Open 12pm-9pm (Sunday-Thursday) & 12pm-12am (Friday-Saturday)