This story about the best food in Kuantan is written by one of our contributors, Cerra. Some parts of the article may have been edited for length and clarity.
When it comes to food-hunting, Penang, Melaka, and Ipoh are often some of the most popular destinations of choice. Prior to my Kuantan trip, I really had no idea what’s popular there and my knowledge of the place was extremely limited. It wasn’t until I was assigned the role of “Gastronomical Adventure Planner” for the trip that I eventually found out other things Kuantan has to offer; apart from their famous patin tempoyak and seafood galore.
It all began when my friends and I came across Hyatt Regency's incredible reopening deals with a rate of RM 500 nett for a 2-nights' stay, inclusive of free breakfast a few months ago. The deal seemed too good to skip and considering that none of us had actually explored Kuantan, we all agreed to give it a go and find out what it has to offer. After much discussion, the seven of us agreed to make this trip a “free & easy” one and decided to focus on what us Malaysians do best: eat and be merry!
Our light, free and easy itinerary for the Kuantan trip:
- Dapur Mama Original Nasi Kukus
- Lena Cafe by Kayuwoods
- Mail Ikan Bakar
We embarked on our journey around 9 AM and after a few stops along the way, reached Kuantan around 2 PM. Ravenous with hunger, we immediately made a beeline towards Dapur Mama Original Nasi Kukus in Bandar Indera Mahkota.
- Sara Thai Kitchen
- Kopi & Teh
Dapur Mama Original Nasi Kukus
I read that their Nasi Kukus is one of the most popular dishes people often seek and that Kuantan natives simply swear by it. The restaurant is self-service, which means you’re required to place your order at the counter and pick your order up yourself when it’s ready. The Nasi Kukus comes with different types of sides that you get to pick. I decided to go with the classic fried chicken as my choice.
I was so glad that I picked this one because their fried chicken was utterly crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The chicken was still piping hot when I tucked into my meal, much to my delight. Their curry sauce was unexpectedly sweet and their sambal belacan packed just enough heat for me to enjoy the meal without reaching for my drink in between bites. After our tummies were filled, we finally headed for the hotel to check in.
P.S. Visiting Kuantan? Make sure you check out these hidden gems!
Hyatt Regency Kuantan
Not too far from the public Teluk Cempedak beach is Hyatt Regency Kuantan, one of the popular holiday destinations for local and international tourists alike. The sprawling resort overlooks the glittering waters of South China Sea and has its own private beach access for the hotel guests. The resort also has two pool areas to cater to a large number of guests. What makes this resort even better is its strategic location and how it’s quite near to most of the popular dining spots in Kuantan; one of it being Lila Wadi Restaurant.
The hotel lobby was quite crowded when we checked in around 3+ in the afternoon. Only the guys’ room was ready when we checked in, so we decided to kill some time at a cafe to wait until our room was ready.
P.S. Check out these 6 Kuantan beachfront resorts you'd love!
Lena Cafe by Kayuwoods
The cafe is still brand-new and opened its doors to the public on 3 March 2020. Primarily known for its lush greenery decor with rustic elements, the cafe offers a fusion of Western food with a touch of local flavours. The cafe opens at 1 PM and closes at 11 PM, and operates from Tuesday to Sunday. It is advised to make a reservation prior to coming here to avoid disappointment, as the cafe can get quite packed, especially on the weekends. The cafe also hosts live band performances on weekend nights.
The cafe was empty when my friends and I first stepped into it, but it wasn’t empty for long as more customers began milling in and was full in less than an hour. We managed to grab the opportunity of snapping some photos of the cafe’s pretty decor while it was still empty.
Unfortunately for us, the cafe had some water disruption on the day before my friends and I visited the cafe and as a result, a lot of items on their menu weren’t available. We eventually settled for some of their pastries. Out of the three different pastries I tried, I definitely recommend their cream cheese croissant.
My friends and I hung out for another hour or so, so that we could be assured that the rooms for the girls would finally be ready by the time we returned to the hotel to freshen up. I honestly would like to go back and try their main dishes if I get the chance to.
P.S. Don't forget to check out these 10 hipster cafes in Kuantan!
Mail Ikan Bakar
After getting some rest and all freshened up, we went out again at night to look for dinner. We initially wanted to check out Ana Ikan Bakar Petai, but upon seeing the massive crowd and line snaking all the way to the main road, we decided to check out the other, equally popular ikan bakar joint in Kuantan: Mail Ikan Bakar.
The place was quite packed with people but fortunately, we didn’t have to queue to get in. We also managed to immediately score a table after we completed the compulsory scan and temperature taking.
The food was amazing and price-wise, it wasn’t too bad. For seven people, the bill amounted to approximately RM 150+, and this included the different types of seafood dishes we ordered. The best part was definitely their service; as they were pretty quick in delivering the food to our table, even when the place was teeming with people. Safe to say that my friends and I returned to the hotel that night with our happy tummies and satisfied faces.
P.S. You'll love these 12 awesome Kuantan eateries near beaches!
Since the main purpose of our trip was mainly to relax and all about being free and easy, we decided to spend half our day just kicking it back at the hotel and lazing around the pool while we soaked up the tropical sun. It was also the perfect time for us to check out the private beach and have a splashing good time. But first, no day is complete without a proper breakfast.
This Kuantan road trip was my second trip during RMCO and I was eager to check out the hotel breakfast to find out what their buffet looked like and how they’re served. I was intrigued to find out that their buffet is personally served by the hotel’s kitchen staff. The food will be scooped onto your plate by the staff before the plate is handed to you. This is to ensure that the utensils remain hygienic and don’t get unnecessarily contaminated. A great move by the hotel, I’d say!
Their breakfast spread was nothing short of amazing and their food was absolutely delicious. I personally recommend their fried noodles, simply because they’re delicious but mainly because I loved how the noodles left no waxy aftertaste. Once we were done fueling up, it was time to get changed into swim clothes and hit the pool!
We were so thankful for the lovely weather we had that day. The sky was a deep shade of azure and the ocean sparkled against the bright, blazing sun. It was the perfect weather for a dip inside the pool. My friends and I spent a couple of hours at the pool before continuing our splashing good time by the beach.
There was nothing more calming than listening to the waves crashing against the shore. The waves were quite big; enough to wrestle my petite friend–who was standing–to the ground. Being at the private beach meant lesser people around and this further added the sense of serenity to the picturesque beach.
We stayed at the beach for another hour before deciding that it was time to retire to our rooms to rest. We managed to get our power naps in for another couple of hours before heading out to have our late lunch. I quite like laid-back trips such as this one from time to time; without having to constantly rush from one place to another.
Sara Thai Kitchen
It was only natural that our tummies became all rumbly again, especially when the last meal we had for the day was around 9 AM. By the time we reached this Thai restaurant, it was already around 4 PM. Sara Thai Kitchen, as the name suggests, serves primarily Thai cuisine with a price range close to upper-middle range. The restaurant has two branches; one in Jalan Gambut and the other in Balok. We visited the Jalan Gambut branch for our late lunch.
Since we had already feasted on seafood the night before, we decided to go for chicken and beef-based dishes for our lunch. Their food wasn’t too bad, but I was quite disappointed that their breaded prawns were cold and quite hard. I was under the impression that they would be prepared fresh upon order, but sadly, that was not the case.
Luckily, their other dishes fared better than the breaded prawns, especially their Kam Heong Chicken and Beef in Chilli Paste. We were so hungry, we ate our food in utter silence and polished our plates clean not for long.
After night fell, we decided to check out one last place before we called it a night and headed back to the hotel: Kopi & Teh.
Kopi & Teh
Kopi & Teh was surprisingly quite near to our hotel, approximately 15 minutes away by car. It seemed like the perfect place for us to end the night too, since most of us were starting to look rather knackered. We were the third group of patrons when we entered the cafe that night and I especially loved the quiet ambience of the cafe.
This place is particularly famous for its “Kopi Terbalik” or upside-down coffee. There’s a special method of drinking it and you have to start by blowing into the cup through the straw provided in order to release the coffee fluid. Once the coffee fluid flowed into the saucer, that’s your cue to sip the coffee.
Apart from its upside-down coffee, the place is also known for their local dishes, such as Nasi Ayam Geprek and Roti Bun Bakar. We settled for some light bites instead because it was starting to get late and we wanted something lighter.
I really enjoyed the toasted buns. I loved how they were slightly charred around the edges for that bit of crisp and had warm, fluffy texture in the middle. The slightly salted butter blended so well with their kaya spread and it was such a delight to have towards the end of the night.
Like all things we have come to know, everything must have an end. The moment we polished our plates and glasses at Kopi & Teh clean that night, it also marked the end of our Kuantan trip, as we had to depart early the next day to head home. It was short but sweet, and I knew it left all of us wanting more. I would love to check out other places that I have yet to visit when I get the chance.
Find more of Cerra's travel adventures on her Instagram @cerraazizi
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