Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Fabulous Fasting Treats in Kelantan

The holy month of Ramadan is a much awaited month in the Muslim calendar. For 30 days Muslims all over the world will be fasting prior to our biggest religious celebration of the year, the Eid ul Fitr, celebrated at the beginning of the month of Syawal.

Apart from the nationwide Ramadan bazaars selling almost all kinds of local delicacies, hotels and resorts all over Malaysia too are not about to miss the month long food festival. The culture, flavor, colour and aroma of Malay cuisine comes to life during this period, enjoyed and savoured not only by the local Muslims, but are joined by the other races from different religious backgrounds as well, and in some cases, by the tourists also.

Can you resist these?
I was one of the lucky media members invited by Kelantan’s Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MOTAC) office for their recently concluded Kelantan’s Citrarasa Ramadan in which 4 hotels and resorts took part. They were Tok Aman Bali Beach Resort in Bachok, Renaissance Hotel, Holiday Villa Hotel and Suites and Perdana Hotel, all in Kota Bharu, the capital city of Kelantan.

The sparse swimming pool at the resort's centre compound is a favourite with the kids. 
The tranquil Tok Aman Bali Beach Resort at dusk.
 We were met at the Sultan Ismail Petra Airport in Kota Bharu by Mr. Rusdi, our experienced and highly knowledgeable tour guide and wasted no time to proceed to Tok Aman Bali Beach Resort in Tumpat about 45 minutes drive from the airport. We passed by quaint fishing villages along the way and reached the beautiful resort just in time for the launch of their Ramadan buffet promotion. Titled ‘Citarasa Aneka Warung Pilihan’, the resort management cleverly utilized their sparse open air dining area to their advantage by adopting the kiosk concept where about a dozen kiosks, each with their own cook, ready to serve their respective freshly prepared specialties to the guests. A group of about twenty children from a nearby orphanage was also invited and were presented with gifts by the hotel management.

Satar and grilled corn being sold alongside the trunk road to Tok Aman Bali.
The next morning, we set off to Kota Bharu. It’s too bad we couldn’t spend more time at the resort as it offers a lot of fun activities like kayaking, paddle boating, cycling and looking for cockles. On our way out, we stopped by the roadside along the beach near the resort for a quick bite at the traditional ‘satar’ (grilled fish paste wrapped in banana leaf). 

Renaissance hotel, our next destination, is a familiar place to most of us visiting Kelantan. One of the two 5 star hotels in Kelantan, the Marriot International managed hotel is very conveniently adjoined to a shopping mall, which offers everything from a snacks to pre-paid top up to a branded shirt, all within a short 2 minute walk. Izudin Merican, the General Manager and Mimi, the Communications Manager were there to welcome us with a soothing cocktail drink.

The various Kerabu variants.
Kerabu and more Kerabu.....
Mouth watering papayas, pineapples and watermelons.
‘Citarasa Kenangan Lama’ (Taste of the Olden Days) was the theme of the Ramadan buffet offerings of Renaissance Hotel for this year. ‘Kerabu’, a popular local delicacy, took centrestage at Renaissance as a dozen variants of kerabu were offered. Kerabu is a combination of vegetables or edible leaves and grated coconut with some fish or meat added to make it complete, but most importantly, they have to have a special sauce called ‘budu’ added to them to qualify the dishes as kerabu.

Aidil Afizie and Izudin Merican with Datuk Paduka Tan, the owner of the Renaissance Hotel.
After a good night’s stay at the plush hotel, we made our way up north to Rantau Panjang Duty Free Zone for a shopping excursion (more about that later). By late afternoon, we adjourned to the Holiday Villa Hotel & Suites for another Ramadan buffet preview. The hotel is a just a stone’s throw away from the famous Wakaf Che Yeh, the biggest and most popular bargain bazaar in Malaysia, where businesses thrive until the wee hours in the morning.

Good food at very affordable price.
The irresistable Lasagne Pulao Lamb Mamak!
A.M. Shaufi, the Resident Manager was there to greet us with a red carpet upon arrival. After a short kompang performance from a local school quartet, Mr Aidil Afizie, the Director of MOTAC Kelantan, officiated the launch by hitting the drum. We savoured the buffet themed ‘Iftar Warisan Timur’ (East Coast Heritage Iftar) that featured an array of the Malaysian East Coast’s specialties like Nasi Dagang, Nasi Ulam, Nasi Kerabu Ayam Percik and many others. I was particularly attracted to this big rice pot with a mouth-watering briyani-like rice in it and was later told by the chef that this was their signature dish for this year – ‘Lasagne Pulao Lamb Mamak’. Ok, whatever they named it didn't really matter. It simply tasted awesome!

The majestic Perdana Hotel
From one hotel to another, we eventually reached the host for our final night at Kota Bharu, The Perdana Hotel. This hotel is by far the grandest and most established hotel in the city. Recently upgraded with massive renovation works, the new management did a great job in upkeeping the interior, with carefully selected paintings and artpieces decorating the walls. Nik Adura, the hotel’s Marketing Communications Manager led the room inspection tour and wowed us with the plush 113 square metres Presidential Suite, now this was a real ‘suite’. Do check out The Jade, the elegant Thai-Chinese restaurant or savour the Fusion-Mediterranean fare at Eleven, the chic rooftop restaurant.

Guests can watch live telecasts of the World Cup football at Rebab Cafe.
The hotel’s Ramadan buffet preview was scheduled at dinnertime. Aidil Afizie was once again called to officiate the launch, followed by a ‘marhaban’ (religious song) performed by a group of schoolchildren, while we were busy at it. Cow brain curry and Eel Soup were the two recommended specialties at the buffet. However, the unassuming fried Char Kuey Teow seemed to be the favourite, with the cook being kept busy throughout the evening. And talking about variety, there were a wide choice of 16 different specialty drinks, from sweet sour ‘air asam jawa’ (Tamarind drink) to the nutritious ‘soya cincau’ (black jelly in soybean drink). You name it, they have it.

Fried Char Kuey Teow, the all time favourite.
Our fun three day trip of eat and sleep (literally) to Kelantan was really a fulfilling one. For those of you who couldn’t think of where to go during this month of Ramadan, try Kelantan. There are lots of interesting places and activities to do, plus spoil yourself with the endless choice of glorious foods for Iftar at the selected hotels and resorts. 

My special thanks to MOTAC Kelantan and all the four hotels and resorts.

For more inquiries on the Ramadan buffets, please contact:

1. Tok Aman Bali Beach Resort. 09-691 8899.
2. Renaissance Kota Bharu Hotel. 09-746 2233.
3. Holiday Villa Hotel & Suites. 09-747 4004.
4. Hotel Perdana. 09- 745 8888. 


  1. It was indeed and honor to have you as our guests at Hotel Perdana Kota Bharu.
    Do visit us again soon!

    Nik Adura

    1. Looking forward to your next invite Nik Adura :)

  2. Yes, Kelantan always have good foods.

    1. Yes Stuwie. Kelantan is synonymous with good food... & very hospitable people too :)


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