Thursday, October 17, 2013




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Kelantan Delights

A warm glow casts over the grand entrance of Kelantan Delights
Traditionally known as the Valley of Flower Garden Land, a poetic title still used in time-honoured performing arts such as Mak Yong dance and Wayang Kulit puppet theatre, the east coast state of Kelantan is famed for its lush, thai-influenced cuisine, with foodies oft making pilgrimages to the state solely to indulge in its iconic fare.

A wayang kulit canvass spans the entrance of the restaurant
Holding the torch for this much-loved cuisine in KL, is Kelantan Delights, serving up age-old recipes handed down generations, unblemished in their passage through time. It was here, at this quintessential Malay restaurant, that a group of gourmands recently arrived to preview Chef Muslim Sadli’s Festival Menu, hosted by MIGF Organising Chairman, Dato’ Steve Day.
The guest list was led by Vision Four Chairman, YAM Tunku Dato’ Seri Shahabuddin Tunku Besar Burhanuddin and wife Datin Seri Jeanette; Chairman of Melewar Group Berhad, YM Tunku Dato’ Seri Iskandar Tunku Abdullah and wife Datin Seri Maneesah; CEO & Director of Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute, Tan Sri Michael Yeoh; Chairman of Cape Range Wireless Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Dato’ Salim Casim; MD Land Rover (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, Tuan Syed Mudzhar Syed Ali and Chairman of Kelantan Delights, Encik Sabri Rahman.

The distinguished group of gourmands, eager to indugle in the delights ahead
Gathering on the wooden veranda outside, guests were served cooling lemon grass infusions with cucumber, alongside canapés of tom yam kelapa muda, mini popiah and keropok ikan. Creatively presented in shot glasses and mirrored trays, the little morsels were a perfect precursor to the mouth-watering menu ahead. Managing Director of Kelantan Delights, Encik Saifullah Akhtar, and wife Amanda Sabri, entertained guests while they enjoyed the pre-dinner nosh.

Chef Muslim and his team put the finishing touches on canapes
 Lemon grass infusion with cucumber Keropok Lekor with Signature Sauce

After a quick group shot in front of the grand entrance, the party made their way into the bright, spacious and airy interior. Blurring the lines between contemporary design and traditional architecture, Kelantan Delights boasts ornately carved wooden trimmings with high ceilings and elegant, deep red drapery across the canopy.

A confluence of traditional and contemporary design elements
A long table, situated in a semi-private wing of the restaurant, beckoned guests within, and after a brief welcome by Encik Sabri, it was time for food.

An intimate setting for dinner
An almost tangible excitement hung in the air as guests prepared for the provincial fare, some of the dishes counting as favourites among the party. The delights soon rolled out, beginning with a trio of classic Kelantanese appetisers that included sirih daun kadok – peanuts, dried shrimp, lemon peel, ginger, birdseye chilli, roasted coconut flakes wrapped in betel leaf and dressed with signature sauce; kerabu soo hoon udang harimau – a sweet, sour and spicy concoction made with glass noodles and laced with succulent tiger prawn; and kerabu pauh muda – a tangy, spicy mix of shredded green mangoes with sweet chilli sauce. A exquisite start to the meal that served to wake up the collective taste buds.
Sirih Daun Kadok; Kerabu Soo Hoon Udang Harimau; Kerabu Pauh Muda Laksam

Next in line was the rich, thick white soup, Laksam – the Kelantanese take on the perennial Laksa. Made with wolf-herring and blended coconut milk, the soup is wholesome and creamy, garnished with soft, subtle and springy noodles, and finished with beef serundang (beef floss) and sambal for a spicy kick. This proved a favourite among a majority of guests, with Tan Sri Michael Yeoh mentioning that it was one of the most unique dishes he had had in some time.
A feast of seven main courses followed, showcasing the best of what Kelantan Delights has become famous for, and the shining culinary examples for which the state is celebrated. The favourite among favourites, nasi kerbau opened up proceedings; a dish consisting of eye-catching, vibrant and fragrant blue rice, a salad of bean sprouts, cucumbers, selon leaves, pennywort, Vietnamese mint, ginger flowers, cabbage, salted egg, fish crackers, grated coconut and fish sauce; served with ayam percik bulun, or charcoal grilled chicken drizzled with creamy coconut sauce. A cornucopia of flavours that tickle the senses, this staple was swiftly polished up by the entire party…the plates hardly needed a rinse!

Nasi Kerbau served with Ayam Percik Buluh
The array that followed included daging paha kerutuk – prime cut beef slow cooked in coconut sauce; kerabu pucuk paku – traditional malay salad of fern shoots, lime juice, onion slices and grated coconut; ikan siakap asam lintang – bursting with contrasting flavours, a piquant dish that stands as a Kelantan trademark, comprising steamed sea bass doused in a yellow sauce of onions, chilli, and pineapple; sambal udang petai – bitter or stink beans stir fried in a hot chilli sauce; gulai kawah – a set with rice, beef gulai (simmered in a giant wok for hours), ulam and toasted baguette; and finally telur dadar – Malay omelette, fluffy in texture and the perfect way to round out the main course.

Daging Paha Kerutuk
Ikan Siakap Asam Lintang Gulai Kawah with Toasted Baguette
A thorough introduction of the dishes was given by Restaurant Manager Amanda, who not only explained the ingredients contained in each, but tacked on a brief bit of history as well.

Amanda explaining each dish as it arrived
The stunning meal came to an end with a pair of desserts; pisang bakar sira or grilled bananas cooked in syrup and dressed with coconut milk – a perfect combination of banana and santan; and Kelantanese classics of jala emas, buah tanjong, akok and tahi itik, dishes that heavily use duck egg as the essential ingredient, utilising the egg white and yolk in a variety of ways. The end effect is an irresistible and ravishingly sweet dish.
Pisang Bakar Sira Jala Emas, Buah Tanjong, Akok and Tahi Itik
As Encik Sabri, enthusiastically pointed out, “the set of dishes that has been presented today is a discovery as far as I’m concerned…a lot of people are talking about things they have not even heard of before, let alone tasted, so it’s really gratifying to hear that culinary horizons have been broadened tonight”. The journey to the north east served to enlighten more than a few guests on the evening.

Encik Sabri, Chairman of Kelantan Delights, speaking at the end of the dinner
Tan Sri Michael was overwhelmed with the delights that flowed out of the kitchen, each one as delicious as the next. When pushed on a favourite course, it was the laksam that came out on top, an unusual variation on the standard laksa, and simply heavenly.
Tuan Syed, MD of Landrover (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, the Official Car Sponsor of MIGF, said of the dinner "...we had something special, in the sense that we were served traditional malay food in a western way. I thoroughly enjoyed the Laksam which has always held a special place in my heart, and Chef Muslim has all but mastered it." As one of the Festival's principal sponsors, he feels MIGF provides a great platform for both locals and visitors to sample the plethora of premium dining restaurants in the city.

Tuan Syed, MD of Landrover (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, was delighted with the meal
Before the evening came to a close, Tunku Iskandar spoke on behalf of all the guests when he professed his pleasure at seeing the array of local fare offered over the course of the evening, the presentation of which was highly creative and matched only by the sheer amount of flavour in each. His only regret, he mused, was that he ate far too much since he decided to finish everything on every plate. Tunku ended his speech with an enthusiastic “Kelantan Boleh” to which there were cheers all around.

Tunku Iskandar's closing speech as the restaurant team looks on
The full Festival menu is priced at RM99++ per person while a lighter version is available for RM49++. Patrons can enjoy special offers, from complimentary door gifts, to beverage discounts, to group booking discounts and birthday offers plus more. For further information, visit the Kelantag Delights page at 

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