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Eat Like A Perlis Local
The next time you find yourself up north in Malaysia’s smallest state, give these food spots a go!
Anjung Keli is famous for their selection of traditional dishes, locally called masakan kampung. Even on a hot day, the place is packed with locals, soaking their fingers in the various types of gulai, and fresh, crunchy plates of ulam. The specialty here is the various styles of cooking ikan keli; sambal, gulai, goreng, bakar and lemak. Even the sambals are deliciously fresh and come in many flavours: durian, belimbing, pelam, biasa, tomato, kicap, hijau, pudina and air asam.
Ikan bakar restaurants are a dime a dozen all over Kuala Perlis, owing to the abundance of fresh produce coming in everyday from the sea. Api-api a clear favourite with the locals, a small unassuming restaurant by the river mouth, a distance away from the bustle of the jetty. Only the freshest catch of the day is served here. Fish is grilled over charcoal and coconut husks for an aromatic, sweet and smoky flavour. The sotong celup tepung is a must-try; thick, juicy slices of squid smothered under a thin, crispy layer of batter. The stillness of the mangrove forest and the gentle flowing river really adds a whole lot of atmosphere to the dining experience. Just make sure you get the table that overlooks the river.
The humble capati is a curious favourite with the locals in Perlis, even more popular than the ubiquitous roti canai. A normal chapati is of course flat and soft but this one in Beseri is something else. Instead of the usual flat bread, here it is rolled extra thin (which is no easy feat) and cooked over a hot pan until it puffs up like a balloon. You have a choice of three types of gravy: beef curry, chicken curry and sardine. Kak Salma, the owner, personally prepares the curries to ensure consistency. This is the type of simple, fuss-free dish that’s perfect for breakfast or a late afternoon meal.
The menu at Kak Su is deceivingly simple, serving nothing but laksa; normal RM4, special (extra everything) RM5, pulut udang RM0.50 and spera RM0.50. ‘Normal’ is a simple serving of chewy laksa in a bowl of delicious fish broth, topped with shredded cucumber and half an egg. The smooth, flavourful gravy goes very well with the pulut udang.
Unlike most stalls which use pre-made laksa noodles from the supermarket, Kak Su’s laksa noodles are made at the restaurant itself. The shop itself started in 2002 but the family has been making laksa since the ‘70s, back in the kampung. Until today, only one person is allowed to make the noodles and gravy respectively. This is to ensure consistency in taste and quality which is something the owners are extremely particular of.
Daging Bakar Special
Juicy slices of smoked beef over a plate of nasi minyak. Every dish is served with air asam kerisik, black pepper sauce, Thai sauce and a free refill of rice and drink. The meat is tender, with a nice layer of fat, making it juicy and supple to chew on. The nasi kuning is cooked with turmeric and a variety of herbs and spices, making it very distinct and flavourful, not unlike the nasi briyani.
Starting out as a home business, selling the dish to customers who contact her by Facebook and phone, Kak Nisa only opened the small warung recently. She is very particular about the type of meat used, opting to import it from Australia and only using the choicest parts.
Step foot into Padang Besar and it’s hard to tell where Malaysia ends and where Thailand begins. Most of the signboards are written in both Rumi and Thai script, and the traders speak both languages. The influence of Thai culture is most apparent in the traders arcade (Arked Niaga) where one can find an assortment of dried food, fruits, biscuits, clothes, and best of all, stalls serving some very unique dishes.
Pulut ayam is a small serving of soft glutinous rice with freshly fried onions and a piece of fried chicken. The chicken is fried only when you order the dish so it arrives on the table sizzling hot and crispy. If you’re up for dessert then try the equally amazing pulut mangga, where the same glutinous rice comes accompanied with coconut milk and slices of warm mango.
Bihun Sup & Sup Daging (Siam)
Two familiar dishes are given a very different Thai twist by the folks in Padang Besar. The bihun sup and beef noodles, both done in the Siamese style, are to die for.
The broth in both these dishes are clear and very smooth but dangerously spicy. Without a thick layer of oil that is usually found in similar soups around the country, the taste of fresh herbs and chilli really shines through, making it really easy to drink, even after finishing the noodles. Both dishes come with a generous portion of meat and makes for a very satisfying meal.
Tom Yam Kelapa
The Thais love their coconuts, which is the real star of this dish. The tom yam kelapa is a unique dish where coconut water is mixed into the tom yam broth and then served in the coconut itself. The broth is made chunky with strips of coconut flesh, prawns, squid and chicken. The sweet coconut water adds a very nice body to the already sour and spicy tom yam. Interestingly, the tom yam here is made lighter and smoother than how it is served in other parts of the country.
Even If you’ve never been a fan of tom yam, this dish comes very highly recommended. Price is steeper at RM18 to RM20 but well worth it. If the spiciness is a little bit too much, cool down with either a cup of coconut shake or a bowl of coconut ice cream.
Find these eating spots in Perlis:
Address: Jalan Padang Behor, Behor Pulai, 01000 Kangar Perlis
Tel: 04-976 5368
Api-api Ikan Bakar
Address: Jalan Behor Temak
Tel: 012-480 1173 / 019-4920 799
Business Hours: 5.30pm – 11.30pm, Tuesdays – Sundays; closed on Mondays
Address: 967, Jalan Kaki Bukit, Kampung Darat, 01000 Kangar, Perlis, Malaysia
Business Hours: 7am – 12pm and 4pm – 10pm, Tuesdays – Sundays; closed on Mondays
Kak Su - Laksa Beras Asli
Address: 97, Medan Niaga Kuala Perlis, Jalan Siakap 1, 02000, Kuala Perlis, Malaysia
Tel: 012-550 0365
Northalgia Hooney Daging Bakar
Address: Depan Tangki Air
Tel: 017-502 1902
Business Hours: 9.30am – 7pm, Tuesdays – Sundays; closed on Mondays
Arked Niaga (Pulut Ayam, Bihun Sup, Sup Daging, Tom Yam Kelapa)
Address: 7, Padang Besar, 02100 Padang Besar, Perlis, Malaysia
By Mahen Bala
Photos by Mahen Bala
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