Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Eating Places and Restaurants in Kuala Terengganu That Most Visitors Can Go

Which restaurants in Kuala Terengganu that I can go? For international tourists, you have choices to take your food or local food. Simple fast food like Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald, PizzaHut are located in the city centre. Around Kuala Terengganu bus station, you can go to McDonald and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Secret Recipe and Japanese Sushi are located at Jalan Sultan Zainal Abidin next to Ming Hotel. and Hotel Tanjung Vista. There is another food court concentration where you take fast food. It is around Mydin Mall Hypermarket.
Secret Recipe outlet at Jalan Sultan Zainal Abidin.
The Japanese will have no problem. Sushi is here.
For the local food especially Malay food, all restaurants and stalls around the town centre sell or serve those food. For the Chinese food, a few restaurants in Kampong China offer the service. For the Indian food, try a few restaurants along Jalan Air Jernih.

For nasi beriani, try Al Maidah restaurants. It is located in Jalan Kamaruddin and in Permint Jaya. For simple western food and noodles and local food, try Norazila restaurants. It has a few locations. The one at Kuala Ibai junction and Permint Jaya are worth going.

Paradise Deluxe: More than 40 menus are served.

Chilada, the latest restaurant in the market.
For the Thai food, try Paradise Deluxe and Chilada. Paradise Duluxe is located at Jalan Bukit Besar near the Bukit Besar Primary School while Chilada is at Jalan Bukit Kechil near Saibasun Hypermarket. Both restaurants are airconditioned and also cater for groups.

Another restaurant that serves nasi dagang, nasi beriani, nasi himpit, nasi minyak is AZ Selera Timur located in Jalan Hiliran near Masjid Hiliran.

All these food outlets are within the city limits and close to places of interest. Happy travelling

Shahbandar Jetty Point, Kuala Terengganu: A Gateway to Redang Island

Shahbandar Jetty Point is a gateway to Redang Island. It is located  in front of Kuala Terengganu General Post Office and next to Shahbandar Square. There is a parking space for you to park your vehicles. This area was formerly Kuala Terengganu harbour. Now it is managed by the Marine Department. This jetty point is historic by nature due to its existence for many decades.
The jetty. Note: The ferry is parked by the jetty.
View of Pulau Duyong from the jetty.
The ferries that ply between this point and Redang Island have their own schedule, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. So choose the time that suit you most. I found there is not much seating areas for the public to relax while waiting for the departure. This is certainly uncomfortable to the patrons. Some walk to Bukit Puteri and around Touristic Information Centre.

The view from this jetty is quite good. You can see the waterfront of Pulau Duyong, the Monson Cup competition area. You also can see the Shahbandar Square. This area is part of the Kuala Terengganu tourist focus area.  Happy travelling.

Rumah Persatuan Sejarah Malaysia Cawangan Terengganu: A Heritage Building Not to be Missed

There is a unique building, located at Jalan Tok Lam, Kuala Terengganu, which houses Malaysia Historical Society Terengganu Branch office. The 2-storey building is a heritage building  recognised by Malaysia's Department of Heritage. The first floor is all timber. The column or pillar is concrete. The building is over 100 years old.

Historically, this building was privately owned. Then in 1937-1979 it was used as a Town Board office. When the Town Board was elevated to Municipal council status in 1979 (Local Government Act 1976), it shifted to another place. This building was vacated and in 1986, the building was handed over to the Historical Society.
The front of the building.
The public may not know why this building is special. It is special because of its age and  the special carvings on the concrete pillars, door, window and the staircases. The Department of Heritage did some renovation work to this building. During the renovation work recently, they found a buried old well at the basement. The well was then  revived to its original position.

The wall motif is beautiful and artistic.

The timber window with louvres, and the rich wood carving at the balcony.
The old well was restored.
The building now looks beautiful, blending the concrete building and the timber building side by side. It is yet to be open to the public. I was told the building has space for office, display area, and some shops on the ground floor. They have to make this building function like a museum or gallery including introduce some activities with the public.

If you are interested to visit, just walk to Jalan Tok Lam. It is about 100 metres from Shahbandar Square. Happy travelling.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Institut Al Quran Terengganu: A Life Long Learning Centre For the Public

Institut Al Quran Terengganu (also known as IQ Terengganu) was formerly Maahad Tahfiz (established in 1984) and in 2007 was renamed as Institut Al Quran Terengganu.

It is a learning institution to train students to become hafiz (those who can memorise the Quran). Beside that, the institute offers courses to the public during weekends. i.e. Friday and Saturday. The courses include the basic reading of Quran (Ulum), Tarranum , Calligraphy, Qiraat, Arabic language and others that relate to the teaching of Quran. It is a great institution that produces many students and also had benefitted the public who enrolled in the weekend classes.

The management office.

The signboard at the front wall.
The walkway linking the buildings.
This institute is located in Padang Midin, 7 km from the Kuala Terenganu city centre. It is facing the main road to Kuala Berang.  What I am telling you is that, there is a program that allows the public to participate. I call it a continuing educational program or life long learning centre.

So when you visit Kuala Terengganu on Friday morning, you will notice many people (the public) go to this institute to learn. It is part of the activity and has become a tradition and norm for Terengganu people in acquiring knowledge. Terengganu folks call it "Menadah Kitab".

If you are interested to enroll in the part-time weekend course, contact the management or for further information click http://iqt.terengganu.gov.my/    Happy travelling.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Kek Ang: A Terengganu Traditional Food That is Not a Cake

Recently I found a traditional Terengganu food by the name of Kek Ang being sold at Pasar Ramadan. Sounds like Chinese or English? Any way this food looks like laksam. The difference is that there is no ulam and its gravy is somewhat sweet.
Kek Ang and its gravy.

Kek Ang is made of flour dough and cut in pieces. Then the pieces were put in the boiling water. When they float, it is considered cook. Then drain it and cool it. For the gravy, the ingredients are coconut milk, grilled fish (without bones and pounded), onions, ginger, halba, a bit of salt and sugar (according to taste) and black pepper. Mix all of them, cook it until coconut milk thickens. Then, mix the pieces with the gravy, serve it hot. I found its gravy tastes like tupat sutong gravy due to its halba and coconut milk.

Some say there is another technique to cook the dough i.e. steam it. I do not know which method give a better taste. This Kek Ang is not found daily. If you wish to eat, it is better to order from those who can make it. Happy travelling.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Duku Terengganu: The sweet fruits that are sought after

Duku Terengganu is considered among the best breed in Malaysia. Traditionally, they are planted in the villages along the Terengganu river. The flood water brings large amount of silts to riverine villages. These silts supplied nutrients to the soil. Duku tree thrives well in the village vicinity where not much disturbance at its base and its surrounding.

Sample of good , sweet duku.
Duku fruit is light yellow in colour and round in shape. Its size is around 1.5 inches  in diameter. You can get  tons of duku fruits from a tree. Those days, people who owned duku trees are richer when the season comes. Lorries came in to bring the duku out from their orchards. They exported the duku to other regions as the demand was high.

Now duku is everywhere. When the season comes, the orchards are full of duku.  If   there is a glut., the price falls. You can buy duku fruits in the market with RM3 per kilo or less. Happy travelling.

Buah Semeta: Terengganu version of Mangoesteen

Mangoesteen (garcinia mangostana) or buah semeta as it is called in Terengganu, is the queen of the fruits. It is a seasonal fruit availaible not only in Terengganu but the whole of South East Asian countries. Its outer skin is dark blue black and the flesh is white and sweet. Its season is quite similar to durian. When you see durian, you too can see mangoesteen.

Mangoesteen, its white flesh is very sweet.
The scientists have found the xantones in the rind of the fruit which had vigorous phytonutrients with powerful nutritional properties. You can not eat the rind just like that. It has to be processed first. Traditional herbalists in Terengganu used to dry this rind and later boil it. It is consume like drinking tea for the treatment of high blood pressure and diabetes. Some companies around the world now are turning whole fruit  into juice.But they add other juices to this mangoesteen.

Mangoesteen trees in Terengganu are planted in the orchards with other fruit trees. Some are planted in the town parks for artistic appreciation.

If you want to taste Terengganu mangoesteen, come in May to July. But do not get frustrated if you do not find it as some season may produce less mangoesteen. Happy travelling. 

Durian: The Thorny Fruit With Strong Smell

Durian is a seasonal tropical fruit that has strong smell. Its skin is thorny and you must be careful when holding it. Durian can be found in all tropical countries especially in South East Asia  (Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Phillipines, Brunei, Singapore and Indonesia). It is also called the king of the fruit.

In Terengganu, durian are grown in the orchards close to forest as durian thrives well in the area with slope and rolling toporaphy. However, some durian are grown in the rural areas where people live. Its season normally in May till August.

Durian can vary in size.
Durian fruit come in different sizes. Its flesh is normally yellow or royal yellow in colour. Durian is also emit gas. Its taste is sweet or bitter sweet depending on its clones. During its season, durian is sold in markets all over Terengganu. You may find, it is also sold along the main road to attract the customers.

You need to open the durian fruit with big knive in order to get its flesh. Be careful not to hurt your hands. Once you open it, you can see the flesh which is yellow in colour. You may eat fresh and do not eat its seed unless you boil it first. Do not eat too much, if you have hypertension and diabetes. Durian has high sugar content.

After eating the fruit (flesh), it is a common to pour the plain water into the skin (which has mould of the flesh) and drink from it. Some say it can cool you down and less adour when you emit gas from your mouth. You can use this water to wash your hands. Durian also can be eaten with cooked gluten rice with coconut milk (they call it Pulut Durian with Santan).

If you are from the temperate climate countries or stayed in the air-conditioned room for too long, you will hate the durian due to its smell. That is why many hotels disallowed durian in their premises. Your nose dislike it. But once you nose had acclamatised with the climate here, you will like the smell.

The life span of the fruit varies. If you find the fruit is already cracked, it may signal its life span will end soon. The cracked fruit should be cheaper.
Well, durian flesh can be deep freeze in order to keep it fresh over long time. When you want to eat, just defrost it. In Terengganu, it is a tradition where the Terengganu folks who had excess durian will convert it into another by-product i.e. lempok and tempoyak. Its flesh can be made into lempok, a kind of sweet jam. The flesh (from many fruits) is cooked with sugar until it turns into brown paste or jam. This lempok can be eaten with bread or eat just like that.

Its flesh also can be turned into tempoyak, a kind of seasoning that you use when you boil your fish. Tempoyak is made by mixing durian flesh with the right amount of salt (keep it inside the bottle). It can last many months. When you boil your fish, you can add asam (like tamarine), cucumber, daun kesom (kesom leaf),  small chilli, onions, garlic, then you can take a few spoons of this tempoyak to make it tasty. Small chilli, onion, garlic must be pounded first. Once your fish is cooked with  these ingredients, a Malaysian dish is already made. It is called  Ikan Masak Tempoyak (Fish with Tempoyak).

If you want to taste Terengganu durian, come May to August, you will certainly find durian everywhere. Happy travelling.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pasar Ramadan: Where You Can Find Varieties of Food and Dessert

Pasar Ramadan in Terengganu is a place where food, dessert and drinks are sold throughout the month of Ramadan. The clients are mostly locals. The locations  and the number of stalls are determined and fixed by the local authorities. The stalls are in good shaped and the cleanliness is supervised the local authorities. During Ramadan, there is a sudden surge or demand for this kind of market (evening market) as people want to buy food for breaking of fast. This is part of the tradition all over Terengganu. 

Pasar Ramadan
Pasar Ramadan at Shahbandar Square.
Pasar Ramadan  normally occupies a temporary site or adjacent to the existing markets. Almost all residential areas have this Pasar  Ramadan. It may occupy a car park, an open space or  part of the road  It normally open between 4.00pm until 8.00pm. By 3.00pm, the sellers will come with their food and kueh and it peaks at 6.00pm where patrons were seen coming from various places to buy the food. The breaking of fast is normally around 7.15pm depending on the locations. So, when the time to break the fast is near, you can see  less people  at these markets.  They had gone home to break their fast at their respective homes, relatives homes  or mosque etc. By 8.00pm, the sellers go home as there is no more buyers. At this time, local people are busy cleaning their kitchen and ready to pray  Isha' and Terawih at mosques.

Roti Boom (like Roti Prata) . It comes with chicken or beef curry.
Grilled Chicken
Chicken Rice already packed for the clients.
Vegetables, curry and others are sold here.
"Nasi Kerabu", a rice with kerabu, salted egg, solok lada and grilled chicken.
Drinks like soya is popular.
Traditional kueh
Seri Kaya, a sweet dessert. It is made of eggs, coconut milk and brown sugar.

Pasar Ramadan has demarcated sections according the the product sold. You may find variety of drinks, food, and kueh are being sold here. It has more variety of products than the normal night markets. Mind you, the price of food, drink or kueh may be a bit higher compare to normal days as everybody is trying his luck to get better income during this fasting month.

In Kuala Terengganu, Pasar Chabang Tiga, Pasar Bukit Besar and Shahbandar Square are the markets that people like to go because they have varieties of products sold. Happy travelling.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

City Centre of Kuala Terengganu

City centre of Kuala Terengganu can be defined as the area bordered by Jalan Sultan Ismail (formerly known as Jalan Paya Bunga), and its eastern part of it. This means it includes Tanjung, Ladang, Paya Bunga, Kampung China and Kedai Payang. The concept changed every now and then. In the 1980's, the development of Padang Hiliran (2km west from the previous centre) has emerged and formed another city centre.

What I am going to tell you is that the old city centre is still vibrant. Dataran Shahbandar in Tanjung now is the venue of many state events. Pasar Kedai Payang and Bazaar Warisan are tourism icons. Jetty Shahbandar is the gateway to Redang Island. The commercial banks and government offices cluttered along Jalan Sultan Ismail. Well known hotels like Primula, Grand Continental or Mutiara (2-star) are located in the city centre. The new Paya Keladi shopping area and bus station are in the town centre.

 The old mosque known as Masjid Putih by the locals.

 Jalan Sultan Ismail where many banks and offices are located. This road is always busy during working days.

Kampong China.

City Hall building (light brown), view from Jalan Air Jernih.

The landscape garden at Padang Maziah near Dataran Shahbandar.

Apart from the ones that I had told you, some area  in the present city centre now is under redevelopment.  This is evidently true in case of Banggol where old shop houses were demolished  to make way for new development. Tanjung and Ladang will be redeveloped with better commercial and housing. The city centre is actually one of the heritage areas that we should keep.

Now there is a thinking to expand the city centre across the Terengganu river, to include the river front of Seberang Takir-Bukit Tumbuh. I welcome it. If the waterfront project was successfully implemented, Kuala Terengganu will become one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Well, if you like to explore the old city centre,  get a map and take a morning walk from Tanjung to Post Office, Kedai Payang, Kampung China and then proceed to Jalan Sultan Ismail until you reach Bulatan Ladang (Batu Bersurat Roundabout). This walk takes about two hours. Make sure you wear a good walking shoe. Happy travelling.

Jerteh: A Town with a New Identity

Jerteh is a town in the district of Besut, north of Terengganu bordering the state of Kelantan. Being an agricultural district, Jerteh town flourishs with the support of its population. In Besut, there are three small towns that have different function and located a few kilometres apart. Jerteh is a commercial centre. Kampung Raja (10 km from Jerteh) hosts government offices and Kuala Besut (4km from Kampong Raja), a gateway to Perhentian Islands. Kuala Besut has high population density. Should these three towns merge together, it can become a big city.

Jerteh being a commercial centre for Besut now seems to expand further south-west with the relocation of a bus station. The new landmark for Jerteh now is the new big mosque. The double-storey mosque is stylish, new design and high. It is visible from far.There is traditional building (timber building) near the old bus station  and is used as a surau. In front of the surau, I found the parking is unique. It  has a high roof. This parking space can be used for other purposes like exhibition centre, car sales, etc.

The new landmark.

The surau (small mosque) made of timber. It is a Terengganu architecture which is a heritage by itself.

The parking area has a high covered roof. It is the first of its kind in Besut.

The paddy or rice plantation which supply rice to Malaysians.
If you are interested to drop by this town, drive north from Kuala Terengganu to Jerteh. Normal drive will take two hours. On the way, before you reach Jerteh, you will see vast paddy fields. It is a like a big green carpet. Take pictures of this rice field because the next time you visit, you may not see this field again. Happy travelling.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Nekbat Terengganu: A Sweet Dessert Common In the Month of Ramadan

Nekbat is another sweet dessert available in Terengganu especially during the fasting month of Ramadan. Nekbat is made of mixing rice flour and eggs and bake in a special container (bronze container which  come with mould).

The mixed ingredients is poured into the bronze mould and  covered with its lid. The heat is coming from the top and below. They use coconut husk as fuel to heat. Once the nekbat is cooked,  the fire is removed and the lid is open. The plain nikbat is taken and cool in another container.  The cooked nikbat turns spongy and cream in colour (due to eggs). No artificial colour  or sugar is added. At this stage, nekbat is plain without sugar (tasteless).

On the left is before they are being dip in the sugary water. On the right is the nikbat post immersed in sugary water. Note that it expanded in size.

You may wonder about its size and shape. Its size depend on the container. Some container has 12 moulds in it. It is better to have a small nikbat (one inch) as it may expand  double the size when you soak it the the boiling sugary water later. Most Terengganu nikbat is oval in shape.

In  Terengganu, it is not complete to eat nekbat without sugar.  So the next stage is to immerse the plain nikbat in the boiling sugary water for a few minutes. The liquid must be enough to immerse or soak all  the plain nikbat. You can control the amount of sugar. If you want  your nikbat to taste less sugar, so put little sugar in the boiling water. To make nekbat taste better, you may put pandan leaf to get good aroma. If you wish, you can put a few cloves (chengkih) and cinnamon stick (kayu manis). Do not over cook the nikbat as it will make it too soft and it is difficult to hold or scoop.

Nekbat is usually served during the break of the fast. If you like, you can chill the nekbat in the fridge. To some people chilled nekbat tastes better.

You can buy this nikbat (the plain) or the sugary nikbat from the markets or Ramadan markets all over Terengganu. Happy travelling.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Round Abouts in Kuala Terengganu: Ladang remains a tourist attraction

Round about, a circular junction is designed to slow down the traffic (traffic calming) and it allows vehicular traffic from the right to be given priority. In the 1960's there were at least 5 round abouts in Kuala Terengganu i.e. Bulatan Batu Buruk, Bulatan Ladang, Bulatan Chabang Tiga Tok Kaya, Bulatan Gong Wan Abas and finally Bulatan Batu Enam.

Now, the ones at Batu Buruk and Chabang Tiga Tok Kaya had been turned into junctions with traffic lights leaving Ladang, Gong Wan Abas and Batu Enam remained as roundabouts. You may wonder where Gong Wan Abas is. Gong Wan Abas round about is at the junction of Jalan Cherung Lanjut and Jalan Sultan Omar ( formerly known as Jalan Gong Wan Abas in the 1950's).

Ladang Round About, remains a tourist attraction. It is very unique and it is the only one in Malaysia.

I remember, in the centre of a round about normally it has fountains, trees or clock tower. Round about at Ladang was once had a replica of leather back turtle. Now it was replaced with a replica of  "Batu Bersurat". (Terengganu Inscribed Stone that was recognised by UNESCO as Memory of the World). Batu Bersurat is a stone found in Kuala Berang which had writings on it concerning the arrival of Islam to this place. It dated back 600 years ago.

Another small round about near Pasar Kedai Payang  was dismantled in the late 1970's to make way for road widening. This roundabout had a clock tower. Now it is no more.  Should it remained there, I would propose it to be a heritage monument.

For the tourists, perhaps Ladang Round About is the best of all  because of the Batu Bersurat replica. You can take picture there. It is the only roundabout with Batu Bersurat in Malaysia. It is so unique. So take your picture there with the roundabour at the background. If you are interested to  visit this Ladang Round  About, take  the town bus to Chendering. When you see the roundabout with Batu Bersurat, step out from the bus. Happy travelling.

Tupat Sutong: A Stuffed Squid in the coconut milk

Tupat Sutong is a  traditional Terengganu cuisine where the cleaned squid is cooked in the  thick coconut milk. The squid is stuffed with cooked gluten rice (pulut) and  later cooked in the coconut milk (mixed with onions, ginger and halba).

 Tupat Sutong is garnished with red chillies, fresh tomato and salad.

To make tupat sutong, you need to undergo three processes. One , you need to prepare the ingredients: the squids, coconut milk, onions, ginger, sugar, salt, gluton rice and halba. Two,  you need to cook the gluton rice and stuff it inside the squid. Third, you need to cook the stuffed squids  in the thick coconut milk with onions, grated ginger, salts and sugar (according to your taste) and  halba.

Once cook, you can serve as a side dish or serve with other food. Stuffed squid already had a carbohydrate (rice). I found the gravy that is special. Tupat Sutong is not available freely in the markets compare with other food or dessert. If you can not find in the market, you can make special order from the restaurants. Happy travelling.