With so much good food around, it’s high time for a foodie trip in Kota Bharu!
You’ll never go hungry when in Kota Bharu! Peninsular Malaysia’s northeastern state of Kelantan, fondly known as the cradle of the Malay culture, offers a variety of mouth-watering dishes from morning till late at night. An essential (or even imperative to most Kelantanese people) side to most dishes is budu, tangy sauce made from fermented fish often mixed with some chilli, lime, or sometimes tempoyak (fermented durian).
Budu or no budu, it’s your choice. Here are some of the recommended spots for makan (eat) when in Kota Bharu.
Nasi Ulam Cikgu
Nasi ulam is a simple Malay dish of steamed rice and herbs salad on the side. To complement this basic meal are appetising side dishes such as ikan keli goreng tepung (batter-fried catfish), ikan singgang (fish in spicy clear broth), gulai tempoyak ikan patin, and fried chicken. A dash of budu on the side is essential for the extra kick. The restaurant is located underneath the stilted traditional Malay house that is Kampung Kraftangan, a centre for handicrafts.
Address: Kampung Kraftangan, Jalan Hilir Kota, 15300, Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Opening hours: 11am – 5pm daily (closed on Fridays)
KST Ikan Bakar Wakaf Che Yeh
Located within the bustling Wakaf Che Yeh nightly bazaar, the restaurant is a good place to have dinner before your shopping spree. Feast your tummy on an assortment of grilled fish on offer here, from stingray to sea bass and more. Another must-order is the batter-fried calamari and tomyam soup.
Address: Wakaf Che Yeh, Jalan Kuala Krai, 15100 Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Opening hours: 4.30pm – 1am
Alemy Maggi Ketam
Can a bowl of instant noodles be ever so glorious? When approximately 100 kilograms of crab are served daily, it must be yes. Served in a claypot, the sumptuous serving of curry-flavoured maggi as its base is complemented by a huge serving of ketam nipah (live mud crab).
Address: Jln Semerak, Pekan Cherang Ruku, 16700 Cherang Ruku, Kelantan
Opening hours: 5pm – 2am
Kedai Kopi White House
Is there a possibility of bumping into Donald Trump here? Highly unlikely. But all the more reason that you should come! This Kota Bharu institution has been around for almost a century, and relocated to its present location during the 1980s. The ultimate place to be for breakfast or supper, the kopitiam (coffee house) has been feedings locals with their perfectly half-boiled eggs, kaya toast, and the ultimate kopi o’ kaw (plain black coffee). If you’re feeling extra peckish, have a go at their pre-packed nasi dagang (rice cooked in coconut milk with chicken curry) or nasi ikan tongkol (rice with fish curry) – delicious!
Address: 1329-L, Jalan Sultanah Zainab, Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Opening hours: 8am – 1.30pm, 9pm – 1am daily
Lido Corner (Nasi Sup Ayam Bakar)
Also known as Nasi Sup Tepi Sungai due to its location alongside the Kelantan River. The lunch time crowds are expectedly huge, but since it is self-serving style, at least you won’t have to wait very long for your order to come. The restaurant only has one main item on the menu – a plate of rice with beef soup – and a selection of three side dishes, which are grilled beef, grilled chicken, or fish curry.
Address: Jalan Post Office Lama, 15000 Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Opening hours: 12.30pm – 5.30pm daily (closed on Fridays)
Yati Ayam Percik
Having been around for more than 40 years, the restaurant is one of the go-tos amongst locals for a fix of ayam percik (spicy roasted chicken with coconut gravy). So good is the dish, they even have two branches in Kuala Lumpur! The tender and flavourful chicken dolloped with creamy coconut gravy is a perfect complement to a plate of their nasi kerabu (blue-tinged rice with mixed herbs and vegetables). And as always, budu on the side is a must!
Address: Jalan Long Yunus, 15200 Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Opening hours: 12pm – 11.30pm daily
Warung Pak Mat Pulau Pisang
The signature dish here is the sup kepala ikan (fish head soup), a heavenly bowl of sea bass fish head in savoury soup made from various herbs and spices. Their signature drink, however, is what made this place viral. The extra frothy teh tarik madu (honey milk tea) is definitely a looker and pleasing to the taste buds too!
Address: Medan Ikan Bakar Kuala Besar, Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Opening hours: 8am – 4.30pm
GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies to Kota Bharu from Kuala Lumpur and various destinations. Book your seats now at airasia.com.