The best Malay food in Malaysia, IMO, is from the north-eastern state of Kelantan, which shares a long border (and food traditions) with southern Thailand.
Kelantan Delights was a long-standing restaurant specializing in the cuisine from that frontier state - the restaurant used to be located at the iconic Suria KLCC Mall at the Petronas Twin Towers, but has now moved to Sooka Sentral, one of the buildings within KL Sentral, the city's main train station.
What I tried this evening:
- "Nasi dagang" with "gulai ikan tongkol" (tuna curry), "acar timun" (crunchy cucumber pickles) & a hard-boiled egg. "Nasi dagang" is actually a red-speckled mountain rice which has a semi-glutinous texture - the rice is usually soaked overnight, then steamed with finely-julienned ginger, fenugreek seeds, sliced small red onions and coconut milk, with enough salt & sugar for taste. The version served at Kelantan Delights tasted pretty authentic & has a right texture. The tuna curry was a great complement, although the tuna steak was a bit dry - which, I'm given to understand, was actually the traditional way to serve it. The sharp vinegarish bite from the cucumber pickle cuts thru the rich, coconutty rice dish;
- "Laksam", which consisted of thick fat rolls of rice noodles, covered with a very rich steamed mackerel fish flakes-and-coconut creme sauce, made tangy by the use of "asam gelugur" (dried tamarind slices) and flavored with minced shallots & ginger, with pepper & salt to taste. Garnished with shredded cucumber, coriander leaves, long beans & beansprouts, and served with a sambal chilli paste. The version at Kelantan Delights was perfect;
- "Lompat tikam", a Thai-influenced dessert of rice custard squares & red-tinted steamed glutinous rice, covered with thick coconut creme & gula Melaka (brown palm sugar). The glutinous rice was a bit too hard & dry, but the sauce was rich & delicious.
A return visit to Kelantan Delights is in order - a few signature Kelantese items to be tried still: "Ayam Percik", "Ketupat Sotong", the blue-tinged "Nasi Kerabu" & "Sira Pisang" :-)
1-5, Level 1
Jalan Stesen Sentral
50470 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2785 1945