The best spots for de­li­cious Malay cui­sine on an East Coast road trip

YTL Life - - Contents - Words MARCO FERRARESE

A drive from Kuala Lumpur to the East Coast brings trav­ellers to a land of unique lo­cal del­i­ca­cies and the award- win­ning Tan­jong Jara Re­sort.

Penin­su­lar Malaysia’s east coast prom­ises a qui­eter pace of life. It was here that Malay set­tlers, Arab sailors and Chi­nese mi­grants in­ter­min­gled, thus cre­at­ing some of Malaysia’s most di­verse mix of cul­tures and an in­trigu­ing blend of their cuisines.

It is easy enough to travel to Tereng­ganu, the east coast’s longest lit­toral state, from Kuala Lumpur us­ing the East Coast High­way E8. Leav­ing Kuala Lumpur by 10am, a rec­om­mended lunch stop is at Te­mer­loh, one of Pa­hang’s most size­able set­tle­ments. The town, to the south of fa­mous Ta­man Ne­gara Na­tional Park, is the best place to try ikan patin masak tem­poyak, the lo­cal sil­ver cat­fish cooked in durian paste. Sau­teed with ginger, lemon­grass and tem­poyak, this Pa­hang spe­cial­ity uses the durian’s strong taste and spices to pack a punch.

One en­ters Tereng­ganu proper after by­pass­ing Kuantan and pro­ceed­ing north along the E8 high­way. The best ini­ti­a­tion to zestier lo­cal flavours is at the small town of Chukai, which lies be­side Ke­ma­man River.

Res­tau­rant Tong Juan is well- known for its crabs, the shells of which are stuffed with crab­meat topped with whisked egg whites and flash- fried to golden per­fec­tion. The suc­cu­lent meat along with the crispy top­ping is best en­joyed with the res­tau­rant’s home­made gar­licflavoured chilli sauce.


Also in Ke­ma­man is Hai Peng Ko­pi­tiam, a spot for sta­ples such as strong lo­cal cof­fee and roti beng­gali with kaya — a Malaysian tea- time treat com­posed of of freshly baked bread and jam made from co­conut, eggs and caramel.

Drive far­ther north on the E8 for an hour past bu­colic coast­line to reach the sea­side town of Dun­gun. About 15 min­utes from the town is Tan­jong Jara Re­sort. The beau­ti­ful prop­erty, a win­ner of the Aga Khan Award for Ar­chi­tec­ture, was de­signed in the style of a 17th- cen­tury Malay palace and is set on a stretch of golden sandy beach that greets the South China Sea.

Be­fore that, stop by the town’s bustling mar­ket for apom, a dessert made from flour, eggs, su­gar, bak­ing soda, co­conut milk and wa­ter; goreng pisang ( ba­nana frit­ters) and ikan celup goreng, Tereng­ganu’s ver­sion of bat­tered fried fish mi­nus the chips.

For those wish­ing to fur­ther ex­plore the mar­ket, one of Tan­jong Jara Re­sort’s most an­i­mated per­son­al­i­ties, chef Ann, takes guests on morn­ing ex­cur­sions, of­fer­ing tips and tricks on se­lect­ing the fresh­est seafood.

One of the state’s most fa­mous of­fer­ings, keropok lekor, ac­com­pa­nied with a sweet and spicy chilli sauce, is avail­able at the mar­ket and at Ter­atai Ter­race, one of the restau­rants at Tan­jong Jara Re­sort. This tra­di­tional fish cracker is made from sago flour and sea­soned with salt and su­gar.

For more in­for­ma­tion, please visit www. tan­jong­jararesort. com

Right: Chukai town is home to an ar­ray of es­tab­lish­ments serv­ing a host of lo­cal de­lights. Below: Tan­jong Jara Re­sort of­fers its own se­lec­tion of din­ing choices.

Left: the beaches and is­lands of Malaysia’s east coast are a huge draw for vis­i­tors. Below: the semi- de­tached sin­gle-storey An­jung Rooms are spa­cious havens. Ev­ery An­jung Room fea­tures a sym­met­ri­cal out­door bath that sits in its own pri­vate court­yard.

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