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An overnight stopover in Kuantan uncovers delicious kampung fare.

KUANTAN is relatively alien to me when it comes to food, except for a few regular eating places such as Hoi Yin Curry Mee and Ana Ikan Bakar Petai. However, Rif (the fiancé) and I decided to stop for a night in Pahang’s capital after a good beach vacation at Perhentian Island.

The next day, we tried the much-talked-about Cendol Air Putih, also known as the Kuantan Cendol. Since it’s a small shop along the main road, you will need to keep an eye out for it.

Rif ordered the cendol pulut (RM1.80) while I got greedy and ordered the cendol campur pulut (RM2). Turned out, my greed served me no good. My order was nothing to shout about – the mixture of ais kacang ingredients didn’t do justice to the cendol strips. Rif’s tasted much better.

The cendol strips had a mild salty flavour which enhanced the richness and sweetness of the coconut milk and palm sugar mixture. One of Rif’s friends had the cendol kacang (RM1.70) and it was also tasty due to the well-marinated beans. While this isn’t the best cendol I’ve eaten, it is, however, one of the good ones around.

We also tried the karipap, pulut ikan and temosa (50 sen each) . These were just average in my books. It’s best to just stick to the cendol.

I heard of another cendol place in Kuantan called Mustafa, but since we were pressed for time, I shall leave it for my next visit to the city.

Cendol Air Putih (open Tuesday to Sunday, noon to 5.30pm): B-260E, Jalan Air Putih 25300, Kuantan (GPS coordinates: N03 49.579, E103 20.178).

Next, we had lunch at Restoran Zaman, reputed to serve the best nasi lemak in Kuantan. It’s advisable to get there in the morning (the restaurant opens at 6am), as the rice sells out fast. According to Rif, it serves pretty good mee jawa and mee soto, but both were sold out by lunchtime that day.

1AD103E0D61E4C9E8401BD8E84ED7AD0Tender, slightly chewy innards in the kari perutwon over even the writer who isn’t usually a fan of such ingredients.

For RM1.70 per small packet, I found the nasi lemak expensive. Heck, I already complain when I have to pay RM1.30 for a packet of nasi lemak in Kuala Lumpur.

But in all fairness, the nasi lemak was delicious. Plenty of coconut milk was used in preparing the rice, resulting in its delicious creaminess. Apart from being “lemak”, the rice had a fragrant aroma from the addition of lemongrass in the cooking process.

The sambal packed a wallop of flavour. Cooked using cili giling, it was spicy and sweet with a lingering aftertaste. Even the banana leaf wrap played an important role; it imparted a nice fragrance to the nasi lemak. Good stuff! I would have eaten two packets, but decided against it as I wanted to try the nasi campur.

I piled my plate of white rice with some ayam masak merah (RM3 per piece), kari perut (RM1.50) and sayur masak lemak (RM1.50). As someone who isn’t a fan of innards, I found the perut delicious – tender, slightly chewy and nicely flavoured by the curry gravy. It went really well with white rice.

Don’t underestimate the colour of the curry; it was rather spicy. I found the chicken a tad too sweet for my liking and didn’t care much for the sayur masak lemak.

Restoran Zaman: Batu 9, Jalan Gambang, Kuantan (GPS coordinates: N03 45.738, E103 12.820).

F3269F2D179A423EADEFEC4211405F88The deliciously creamy nasi lemak was an excellent foil for the spicy sambal.

After lunch, we stopped to buy some keropok lekor and keropok ikan from the stalls along Jaya Gading. If you’re too lazy to fry the keropok lekor, just get the freshly fried ones, like I did.

At the end of this trip, I found a few more food places in Kuantan which I plan to try. So this isn’t the end of my makan spree there. If you have more food recommendations in Kuantan, do share them with me!

Jaya Gading Stalls: 25150 Kuantan (GPS coordinates: N03 45.874, E103 12.790).

Tiong Sue Lynn enjoys going on food trips with her fiance and friends – the more the merrier, in fact, so she can sample more food! Follow her food adventures on her blog at bangsarbabe.blogspot.com or catch her updates on Twitter @/bangsarbabe.

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