KUANTAN, Malaysia – Unlike some of the better known cities around Malaysia, the seaside town of Kuantan in Pahang isn’t particularly famous for its food scene, but if you’re ever travelling through this neck of the woods, you won’t want to miss some of these top food haunts.
The following establishments are popular with locals, serving some iconic Malaysian fare and as far as ambiance goes – are as Malaysian as it gets. So, whether you are staying at a luxury resort, a homestay or beach hut nearby, skip a trip to McDonald’s or that holler for room service and head out to these tried and true favourites that the locals swear by!
PAK SU SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
If you’re driving your way to Club Med or the Swiss Garden Hotel via Jalan Beserah, you won’t miss this Chinese seafood restaurant. Pak Su Seafood serves up a hearty lunch and dinner menu to locals and tourists, and have been doing so for decades. Faded portraits of the restaurant’s more famous patrons line the wall space above the live seafood tanks and you’ll find that Pak Su has served its delicacies to members of the Malaysian Royalty as well as former Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir; among other Malaysian dignitaries.
The Stuffed Crab Shells are a signature dish at Pak Su, and Kuantan in general, and a visit to the restaurant on any sunny day sees a pretty array of hollow crab shells drying in the sun.
While the stuffed crabs and seafood orders are a major feature of the Pak Su menu, be sure to make room for a round or two of fried rice or fried noodles as they serve up a very good version of these dishes at a decent price.
No.4/1417, Batu 6, Lot 922,
Kg. Bahagia Beserah,
26100 Kuantan, Pahang.
Phone: 609-544 8025
Mobile: 019-987 8403
Mobile: 017-989 6666
ALOR AKAR SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
Although slightly off the tourist track, you will not want to miss this popular restaurant. Locals flock to Alor Akar for the seafood and Chinese cuisine; and once you taste the food, you’ll understand why. The menu is extensive and features a host of Malaysian Chinese staples. Avoid the peak dinner hours if you can, and swing by after 8pm for a late dinner but a smaller crowd.
The restaurant is especially famed for its Beggar’s Chicken – a whole chicken broiled in herbs and cooked in the chicken’s own juices until the meat falls easily off the bone. Notably, this dish requires slow cooking and demands an advanced booking of at least a day, so call well ahead of your visit or you’ll be disappointed.
Now, do not leave Alor Akar without trying what might be roughly translated from Chinese as the Fruity Sauce Pork Ribs. It’s like sweet & sour pork, but ten times better and it’s possible that Alor Akar might be responsible for making the best and tastiest pork rib dish in Malaysia. Meaty, tender, and perfectly caramelised in a fruity plum-like sauce, this dish presents a big and tasty serving of juicy meat with barely any bone for an astonishingly low price. You’ll definitely be left wanting seconds.
The generous pile of prawns enveloped in a fluffy blanket of buttery, milky goodness is another dish that’s worth your time. Half the fun is eating your way through the fluffy buttermilk mass to unearth those juicy prawns.
A wholesome claypot filled with a variety of seasonal vegetables, tofu and meat in gravy feeds an entire family for only a few dollars. Prices at Alor Akar for this variety of food are well below the prices for similar fare in Kuala Lumpur.
Fans of the taro root will not regret their offering of a fried taro puff wall encasing your choice of meat. Ask your waiter for other meat options, but we chose more of that fruity pork rib because it truly is the bee’s knees of Alor Akar.
Lot 7695 & 7696, Jalan Kubang Buaya,
Off Jalan Beserah, 25300 Kuantan, Pahang.
Tel: 09-568 0720
Mobile: 016-952 7811
TERMINAL SATAY ZUL
The scale of the satay-grilling station at Terminal Satay Zul is a dead giveaway of the restaurant’s popularity.
Satay Zul operates several of these super-sized charcoal grills and churn out what must be thousands of satay sticks a night. The scale of operations here is certainly above and beyond the humble volume of most satay vendors in any other town in Malaysia.
Instead of taming the flames with a hand fan, Terminal Satay Zul relies on a series of electrical standing fans to beat the charcoal grill into submission in order to keep up with the magnitude of the restaurant’s orders.
Tables here fill up quickly, so order as soon as you arrive and worry about the seating later.
Unlike most satay vendors who tend to stick to chicken or beef, Terminal Satay Zul offers a full spectrum of meats – chicken, beef, mutton is available, as well as the rarer options of rabbit and venison. There is also a showing of tripe and chicken hearts, for the more adventurous.
Terminal Satay Zul
Jalan Teluk Sisek
Opening Hours: 6pm onwards
CENDOL AIR PUTIH
This unassuming little dessert pit stop will surprise you. Do not skip a snack here if you have a penchant for Asian sweets. This little hole-in-the-wall establishment has been serving its addictive shaved ice confections since 1978.
The basic cendol is the star of this tiny diner and you’ll find a bowl of this looks as unassuming as the humble decor, but don’t be deceived. This is a bowl of the silkiest cendol noodles in the most refreshing pool of coconut milk, gula melaka and crushed ice ever, and is simply the best cendol we have ever tasted. At a cost of barely USD1 per bowl, it’s superb value for money and you will adore more than one serving to get you through a hot, Malaysian afternoon.
For a savoury fix, Cendol Air Putih also sells local snacks such as curry puffs and baked sticky rice with fish sticks wrapped and grilled in banana leaf, to cut the sugar.