Due to the geographical location and history back ground, apart from cuisines which representing the three major races, Terengganu food has shown the influence of Thai culture and taste. Terengganu has abundance of rice based dishes such as nasi dagang, nasi kunyit, nasi kuning, nasi berlauk, nasi lemak and nasi kerabu. There is laksam, laksa Terengganu, otak-otak, sata, pulut lepa, ketupat sotong and kerepok lekor. Dining out is relatively inexpensive and there are always plenty of choices range from hotel food to hawker food.
Taste This :
Bubur lambut or herbs rice porridge is a Terengganu traditional porridge cook with differ kinds of herbs, sweet potatoes, fish crackers, dry prawn etc. Young leaves and shoots of paku miding that are found growing on peat swamp forest is one of bubu lambut ingredients.
The Malay cooking always have their homegrown ingredients such as coconut milk, lemon grass, lime leaves, screw pine leaves (pandan leave) and tumeric etc. to cook with meat or vegetables together with a traditional accompaniment of a hot and spicy sambal belacan which is made of prawn paste, ground chili and condiments. Indeed, no Malay meal is complete without the sambal ! Rice forms the main staple of the Malays, and this is often taken with a variety of dishes. Daily meals are based on white rice, and coconut milk is always one of the ingredient in the cooking.
Mak Ngah Nasi Dagang, opens 07:00 - 11:00 am. Best stall to go for nasi dagang is Mak Ngah Nasi Dagang, a little stall about 2km from Kuala Ibai bridge, by the road of Chendering. Early bird always catches its meal. Nasi dagang in Mak Ngah’s stall always sold out before 11:00am. Other alternative will be at any stalls in Kuala Terengganu which offer quite similar taste.
Nasi Minyak John at Jalan Petani, beside AEON building. Opens 09:00-10:30am. Nasi minyak or ghee rice is another typical food for this state. It is normally eaten with vegetable pickles and Chicken, egg or beef curry.
Meka at Jalan Sultan Omar, Mat Binjai at Jalan Sultan Sulaiman and Misya at Batu Buruk Hawker Centre. Opens 11:00-2:30pm: Offers large selection of Terengganu traditional kampung dishes such as fried ayam kampung (free range chicken), bovine lungs, grilled fish, grilled squid etc. Ulam or the Malay salad is a combination of raw vegetables such as ulam raja, cucumber, petai(stink beans), pegaga etc. Some are more unfamiliar, like daun kentut, daun kudu, cekur, daun larak and kucing seduduk etc. It is eaten with rice or just dip into sambal belacan, budu (fish sauce) or tempoyak (fermented durian paste). There is piping hot white rice to go with the dishes.
Kedai Nasi Kerabu, Opens 11:00-3:30pm. Located right across from the main entrance to Wisma Darul Iman (the Terengganu state government buildings). Nasi kerabu, a dish of rice tinted bright blue and eaten with ulam, fried salted fish, fish crackers and other garnishings. The blue which comes from the petals of bunga telang (clitoria) used in the cooking variety is the most common, but there are many versions depending on the colour of the rice. Prices are a bit more expensive here but they have good local specialties.
Central Market (08:00am-2:00pm) and Foods warong along Jalan Sultan Sulaiman (4:00pm-12:00pm) : Serves numerous good local Malay food. Try Laksam is quite similar to the western pasta except the wheat and rice flour mixing dough is steamed but not boiled. It is eat with boiled and pureed fish gravy which is mixed with coconut milk. Some warong serves good nasi lemak, Nasi lemak is another typical Malay food. The rice is cooked with coconut milk then eaten with ikan bilis, sambal, slices of cucumber, egg and peanut.
Besides the main menu, there are a numbers of Malay dessert or little eat in Terengganu traditional Malay menu.
Keropok is cracker made of fish which is ground to a paste then mixed with sago before it is steamed and later deep fried. It is the snack instead of a proper meal and sometimes is served as the snack before meal. It can be eaten either when it is steamed or deep fried, both give different taste. The long chewy ones are called keropok lekor while the thin crispy are called keping, means slice. Both the keropok is usually eaten with chili dip.Keropok is easily found elsewhere in Kuala Terengganu, from the stalls beside the road to restaurants or market. If you wish to bring home some, go to the Central Market for dried keropok or fresh in Losong who is famous with largest Museum in Malaysia and its keropok. Kak Yah's stall is the most popular at Losong, prof of that is Kak Yah magnificents house located next to her stall. Some say stall 007 near Floating Mosque is the best among this, well, find it out yourself. And the newly discovered keropok "lekor", new comer to the industry is Keropok 008. It is located near Kg. Kelulut, near to Chalet Semarak, Marang.
Satar is another fish snack in Terengganu Malay cuisine. It is mixture of pounded fish, shallots and ginger wrapped in banana leaf, pierce of few by 1 single bamboo stick then barbecue over low fire. The best stall are by the road of Chendering, sold by an old couple in a Ford Vargon or Warung Che Wan at Kuala Kemaman if not, you can try your luck at Central Market.
Onde Onde, a very tangy and fluffy, Malay delicacy, with grated nuts as fillings and generously coated with a layer of coconut gratings.
Solok Lada, Chillies suffed with fish paste which has beed spiced with ginger and coconut milk.
Pulut Inti, a kind of dry rice pudding made from glutinous rice & coconut milk as the topping. It is cooked by steaming. The dessert rice is topped with fresh grated coconut sweetened with palm sugar. It is traditionally wrapped in banana leaves folded into a pyramid shape.
Roti Jala, 'net bread’ or crepes is a net or lacy type of crepe, which sometimes replaces the staple rice, made from a crepe-like batter. A special cup or mould with small holes is used to make the lacy crepe which is cooked over a hot griddle. Roti Jala is often served during special occasions and is an ideal accompaniment to dishes with lots of rich curries or gravies like Malaysian Chicken Curry, Chicken Kapitan, or Mutton Kurma.
Pulut Lepa made of glutinous rice and fish, this snack food is prepared over a barbecue. Boiled fish meat is mixed with sliced onions, and dried chilies and coconut. The mixture is cooked until it is dry. This is then used as a filling for the glutinous rice rolls. Wrappings of banana leaf cover the food before it is cooked over the fire.
Rendang, is the meat dish that is prepared with coconut milk, chilies, onions and other condiments. Eaten with rice, the tasty tender meat is a delectable dish. It is a must at most Malay functions.
Nekbat is a light dessert made of rice flour and eggs, prepared in a mould over a light fire. When it turns yellow and puffy it is to be eaten with syrup flavoured by pandan leaf.
Ketupat sotong is squid stuffed with glutinous rice bathed in a sea of cooked and thick coconut milk. The stuffing is soaked in coconut milk before it is put in the squids.
Lompat tikam is a sweet cold dessert made out of coconut milk and rice flour flavoured by pandan leaf.
Akak Cooked in a mould, eaten sweet or savoury. The sovoury version has a spiced beef filling and sweet version is pandan flavoured.
Buah Gomok is sweetmeat made out of glutinous rice flour, a filing of shredded coconut and a dark brown sugar derived from the coconut tree as well as powered fried green peas.
Bronok is sweetmeat made out of boiling sago, sugar, red coloring and coated with shredded coconut.
Most of these desserts can be found at the Central Market or stall beside the road or perhaps the famous ‘Kuih Corner’ at Jalan Panji Alam, behind the female hostel of a religion school, Sekolah Menengah Agama Khairiah. Stalls along Pantai Batu Buruk also serves good desserts. Or maybe it is a good idea to have a short visit to the night market (pasar malam), this is the place to hunt for food that you have never tried before.
Although you can find fresh fruit juice elsewhere in Malaysia, Kuala Terengganu offers you something special from the ordinary. In Sebarang Takir Gelas Besar you can get an extra ordinary huge glass of fresh fruit juice with only Rm2.50. Take minibuses to Seberang Takir from local bus station and ask for Gelas Besar restaurant. It is usually operates from afternoon on.