I had an opportunity recently in April 2014 to visit Alor Setar for a one-off music performance with Mary Jackson at a private function. Alor Setar is the capital city of Kedah, a state bordering Penang and also neighbouring Thailand. Every town has it’s food specialty and Alor Setar is renown for it’s Malay and Indian Muslim foods. Here are some ‘makan’ places I have tried during my visit there. I will update more about Alor Setar from time to time if I have the chance to visit there again.
Restoran Mee Abu
First pit stop when we reached Alor Setar was to look for the renown mamak mee goreng shop called Restoran Mee Abu. This place is reputed to be a favourite among local celebrities and politicians.
I overheard a guy ordering 10 murtabaks to go and I decided to try it out. Murtabak is pan fried bread, similar to the prata (or roti canai in Malaysia) but local version is filled with spiced mince beef or chicken. I must say that this murtabak was one of the best I have tasted in a long time! The bread dough was soft and not too oily, with generous portion of minced meat and the spice wasn’t overwhelming. Definitely going to order this again next time! 9/10.
Ah yes… the main reason we came here. To try the famous mee goreng (fried noodles). As some of my friends already know, I am not a big fan of ‘Mamak’ or Indian Muslim foods. So in order to get me to try this mee goreng, I must already know that this place is a big hit or it’s a strong recommendation from my friends. My verdict…well my friends were right. This mee goreng is really tasty. I must note that they also add charcoal wood into the fire while frying the noodles. Next time, I’m gonna try ‘kway teow goreng’ (rice noodles) instead, which I’d prefer than the usual yellow noodles. 9/10
We also ordered the ‘Mamak Rojak’, also known as ‘Pasembor’ in Penang. Nice one too but the gravy is a little too sweet for me. 6/10
The Murtabak and Mamak Rojak cooking station…
One of the cooks pan frying the Murtabak….
Restoran Mee Abu,
Alor Setar, Kedah.
Nasi Royale (Nasi Kandar)
The next following day before leaving Alor Setar, we decided to go food hunt another popular place… Nasi Lemak Royale. Although called ‘Nasi Lemak’ it’s a Nasi Kandar shop. Nasi Kandar originates from Penang, which is a rice meal where one chooses the dishes (mostly curry or chilli dishes) to put onto the rice. The rice served at Kuala Lumpur’s Nasi Kandar is normally plain white rice, but in the north like Penang and Alor Setar, you can get oily or lightly spiced rice.
With the high praises I heard from friends about this place, I’m a bit surprised to find this place quite unassuming. It’s actually located at a former chinese coffee shop called Kim Bee Chew. The actual signage is small, and you would have missed it if you don’t look carefully. We only found the place after we parked the car and took a short walk around the surrounding shoplots.
I’m excited to see this place still uses the traditional rice pot. In the old days, the original Nasi Kandar hawkers would use a ‘kandar’ pole (hence the name) to hoist on their shoulder two huge containers of rice pots (which looked like this one here) and walk the streets to sell their rice with an assortment of curry dishes.
Mary choosing her dishes for her rice…
Whoa! …here’s what I took for my hearty meal. This place serves oily rice which is yellowish in color. I had ‘sambal sotong’ (chilli cuttlefish), ‘daging kicap’ (beef in dark sweet curry) and also ‘ayam masak merah” (friend chicken with chilli sambal). I also told the guy to put every curry gravy on my rice, hence the messy look. Verdict…It was awesome! The mixture of curries in the rice made the meal great. 9/10
We were pretty lucky that we reached here about noon. Moments later, the patrons had to queue up to order. And the best part…the food finishes at 1.25pm! As we sip our last bit of tea at 2pm, the workers already cleaned up the stall and ready to close the shop! Another memorable food experience that I would like to go there again. 🙂
Nasi Lemak Royale (nasi Kandar)
Kim Bee Chiew Coffee Shop,
Jalan Tunku Ibrahim,
Alor Setar, Kedah.