Eating Out: In Kuala Terengganu

Two weeks in Kuala Terengganu was really enjoyable. I visited a lot of interesting places and met lots of wonderful people. I also had the chances to sample a lot of Terengganu foods.

Pak Chik Changgeh mentioned about a restaurant in Rusila named Kedai Lempeng that serves ‘ttupak sutong’ everyday (Please refer to ‘TTupak Sutong’). We went there on the first day they started their business after their Eid break. I like the place and the owners are very friendly and polite. We tried their ‘ikang and sutong celuk ttepong’ (please refer to Cicoh – part 2), ‘ttupak sutong’ (please refer to ‘Ttupak Sutong’) ‘lepeng nyor’ (lempeng), ‘rojok ceranang’ (a type of Terengganu salad), ‘rojok kateh’ and ‘keropok lekor’.

The fish and squid were fresh and tasty; and so were their ‘ikang singgang’ and ‘budu’ (please refer to ‘ikang Singgang’). The ‘rojok kateh’ was also tasty  but the ‘ttupak sutong’ was rather “cero“. The ‘kuoh’ or the curry soup of the ‘ttupak sutong’ was not thick enough (too watery) and did not have either that wonderful flavour nor the lovely aroma of a tasty ‘ttupak sutong’. Anyway the ‘air nira’ and the young coconut drink which were both mixed with ice-cream were really tasty. And so were the lempeng or “coconut pancake” as my siblings called them. Actually that was the first time I tried the ‘lepeng nyor’!

The next day I ate ‘lempeng’ at another stall close to the Primula Hotel known as ‘Keda Atak Nipoh’ (Nipah Roof Stall). We prefered their ‘lempeng’ compared to the ones served at Kedai Lempeng. The people who run this stall were very nice and friendly. They also sell delicious Terengganu style ‘nasi lemak’.

Another place that sells delicious ‘nasi lemak’ was a stall in Jalan Kampung Kolam which was run by Mak Cik Ani and her husband. Mak Cik Ani used to work for Alam Akademik, a bookstore  that belongs to my grandmother. Mak Cik Ani’s ‘nasi minyak’ was delicious too.

We also had our ‘nasi minyak’ at a very popular ‘nasi minyak’ and ‘roti canai’ stall opposite the Sekolah Kebangsaan Ladang. When we reached there, the stall was almost full but we managed to get our seats. We waited for ages but nobody came to take our order and when we called the staff, she just looked at us rudely and ignored us!

The worst part of their bad service was there were customers who just came in could get their ‘nasi minyak’ almost at once while others had to wait for ages to order their breakfast! Infact another customer who was seated next to us just walked out of the place after telling us that he was already tired of waiting for his ‘nasi minyak’. At last we got our ‘nasi minyak’; but the ‘roti canai’ never came. Another customer said that being so popular, the  stall owner do not care if their customers walked out or gave up on them ‘cos more will come for their ‘nasi minyak’ and ‘roti canai’. And that reminds me of the rude lady at the sales counter of the very popular keropok lekor place in Bukit Tok Beng! (please refer to ‘Two Weeks in Kuala Terengganu’)

Ikang Singgang

I love ‘ikang singgang’ or ikan singgang in standard speak; and I guess so do most of Terengganu folks that I know. The singgang soup or ‘kuah singgang’ is so tasty that mum has to cook extra rice whenever she cooks the dish.

In our family ‘ikang singgang’ should be accompanied by ‘ikang panggang’ (grilled fish), a good quality ‘budu’ (a special sauce from Terengganu), ‘ppoyok’ or tempoyak (fermented durian), ‘lada jarung’ (bird’s eye chili) and ‘ulang’ or ulam (Malaysian salad) especially ‘pucuk jambu golok’ or pucuk gajus in standard speak (cashew shoots).

‘Ikang singgang’ is a simple dish – mum would boil some asam, galangal, turmeric and garlic in a pot of water. Next, she’ll add some fish and soon we’ll be sniffing the mouth watering aroma of tasty boiling ‘ikang sinnggang’ that sends us running to the kitchen asking how much longer we have to wait for our lunch. ‘Ikang singgang’ can be eaten hot or cold and some even prefer overnight ‘ikang singgang’. One can just add the ‘ikang singgang’ to their rice but both of my grandfathers prefer to first mix some ‘ppoyok’ and crush some green chilies in the ‘kuah’ (soup) before eating. Some, like nenek (my grandmother) prefers fresh durian instead of ‘ppoyok’.

According to mum, the right choice of fish and the freshness of the fish plays an important role in producing a good ‘kuah singgang’. The most popular fish for this dish is

ikang aye’ or ikan tongkol. There are 3 types of ‘ikang aye’ but the tastiest is the ‘ikang aye itang’. Infact ‘ikang aye itang’ is the prime choice in most of Terengganu fish dishes.

Next is how to prepare ‘budu’. First one has to buy a good quality ‘budu’. We can buy ‘budu’ easily but a good ‘budu’ is hard to get even in Terengganu. Squeeze a bit of lime juice and add a bit of ‘kuah singgang’, mix in some ‘ppoyok’, crush in some ‘lada jarung’ and garnish the ‘budu’ with some shallots and lemon grass. And do not forget the ‘pucuk jambu golok’ or cashew shoots.

A friend of dad (whose wife is not from Terengganu) used to complain that only Terengganu women can cook authentic ‘ikang singgang’ and he always misses his ‘kuah ikang singgang’ in KL. A not so tasty ‘kuah ikang singgang’ tastes ‘cero’. My conclusion is it is not that easy to cook a good ‘kuah ikang singgang’ after all!