Kota Bharu, A Food Haven Spot
After going on a few trips to Kota Bharu and posting quite a number of food photos on Instagram and Facebook, I decided to compile a list of restaurants and food spots which I have personally tried, to share with everyone as I’ve had questions about them after the trip. It is quite easy to see why Kelantan has such good taste in their food as the cooking is still as authentic as how their mothers or grandmothers used to cook them. Most of these places have been around for quite some time while there are one or two new restaurants that is included in the list. Hope you enjoy it and do try out the street food and local delights if you’re ever in Kota Bharu.
(1) Kopitiam Kita
The restaurant name is so friendly that you feel as though the place does belong to you and everyone else. This place is well known to the locals for its’ roti titab, which is toasted bread that comes with a dollop of kaya and an egg. Personally I’ve never tasted anything like it but I loved it nevertheless. Besides that, it is the only restaurant which houses all the popular dishes available Kelantan. The concept is indeed clever because it makes it easier for them to maintain the restaurant as they only needed to prepare drinks and roti menu for breakfast while the rest can be taken for the shelf and eaten right away. From the wall of fame, you can see that many celebrities and politicians have also made their way to Kopitiam Kita for their food menu.
Address: Kopitiam Kita, 4357- A, Taman Desa Jaya, Jalan Pengkalan Chepa, Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Business Hours: 730am – 1pm daily
(2) Nasi Berlauk Pokok Kekuk @ Cherry
If you happen to drive around Kota Bharu you may not realize this Kedai Makan as it is shaded by a sturdy Cherry tree or Pokok Kekuk as known by the locals. I had a slight culture shock when Bart told me that we’re having rice for breakfast at 8am. How could anyone be eating heavy rice with different dishes in the morning I had asked. The locals are accustomed to this as having breakfast in the morning gives them more energy to do laborious work just like their ancestors did before them. With a menu that includes gulai ayam, gulai daging, ikan kembung/ikan selar masak masam, fried chicken and others, it’s understandable why locals flock here before their they go off for their daily routine.
Address: Kedai Makan Pokok Ceri @ Kekuk, Jalan Yaakobiah, Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Business Hours: 8am – 430pm daily
(3) Kak Na Mee Celup
We came upon this place by chance, after buying souvenirs in Rantau Panjang area which was located close to the Malaysia-Thailand border. Just opposite the Khay Boon primary school sits this Kedai Makan (Restaurant) serving mee celup which is meehoon drenched with hot chicken or beef soup, lime, bean sprouts and side condiments of your liking such as sugar, chilies or soy sauce. It’s a simple and cheap (RM2.50 a bowl) dish that could fill you in between meals. However in this case it was our lunch because we had taken such a heavy breakfast earlier. Order that with a cold teh ais (iced milk tea) and you would feel content until you’ve covered the next activity of the day.
Address: Kak Na Mee Celup, Jalan SRJK Khay Boon, Rantau Panjang, Kelantan
Business Hours: 8am – 430pm daily
(4) Restoran Hover
I didn’t think that ‘Nasi Padang’ can be found in Kota Bharu but here we were in Restoran Hover which was famous for its’ dishes which were plenty for us to choose from. As soon as we sat down, a waiter comes over with stacked dishes on his arm, putting them down one by one in front of us. Our table was full with dishes such as ayam kampung, gulai ayam, hati & limpa goreng, beef curry, beansprouts, sambal brinjal as well as the delicious green chilies. We only touched the ones that we wanted and the rest we left it untouched as the bill will cover only for the ones we ate. It was hard to resist most of them but given the fact that the bill might end up being expensive (if we were to eat everything), we would rather choose. In the end, the bill came close to RM50 for two people for 7 dishes. If you’re hungry and bringing along a family, this could be one of the places to try out when in Kota Bharu.
Address: Restoran Hover, 1963-A, Jalan Dato Pati, Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Business Hours: 1230pm – 330pm daily
(5) Nasi Sup Tepi Bomba
The weather in Kota Bharu can get really hot in the afternoon and one of the ways to cool down our temperature is by eating the iced cold Air Batu Campur, also known as ABC for short. What is ABC to the locals, is colourful shaved ice to the tourists. Actually this restaurant is known for its’ Nasi Sup (rice in soup) and other menus such as rojak mee, rojak jawa and laksa Penang. The ABC was the dessert and we chose the ABC with green cendol as this was my favourite. The surprise ingredient in this ABC was the biji sagu (the pinkish round jelly balls) which made the dessert taste naturally sweet. Pair this with cold coconut drink and you would definitely simmer down by the time you finish. The ABC and iced coconut costs only RM2 each, which is a really reasonable price compared to the city.
Address: Nasi Sup Tepi Bomba, Jalan Pekeliling, Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Business Hours: NA (but it’s open in the morning til afternoon.)
(6) Warung Pak Mat Pulau Pisang
If you mention teh tarik madu, the locals will quickly direct you to Warung Pak Mat Pulau Pisang which is located at the Medan Ikan Bakar spot near Pantai Cahaya Bulan (PCB). What is teh tarik madu you ask? The name is as interesting as the drink because instead of using condensed or evaporated milk with the teh tarik drink, Pak Mat uses madu (honey) for natural sweetness to the drink. This results in the drink being so bubbly that it overflows over the glass, aiming its way down to the table (but not quite). It can get very busy during the weekends and we had to wait for 30 minutes for our drinks to arrive. Luckily we ordered the food first from the counter and decided on the soup gearbox campur, ikan senangin masak kuning, and daging masak kunyit with white rice. The soup was a bit spicy but overall all the lauk (dishes) for the nasi berlauk was really good. All in all, the brunch costs us RM44 for 3 people which is reasonable for a mid range restaurant.
Address: Warung Pak Mat Pulau Pisang, Medan Ikan Bakar Kedai Buloh, Jalan Kuala Besar, Kota Bharu, Kelantan (near to Pantai Cahaya Bulan or PCB).
Business Hours: Opens morning til lunch time, closes on Tuesdays.
(7) Captain T Restaurant
Our friend, Jaja came upon this by chance when she was dropping off her friend at the bus station one night. Out of curiosity, she drove behind Tesco and found the Captain T Restaurant with two parked boats by the Kelantan riverside. We dropped by and together walked into the boat for a tour. The boat we were on had three split levels and you could even dine in the Captain’s room on the top most floor. Around the boat was a pond with white benches and fishing rod station for customers to try their luck in fishing. We didn’t see any fishes in there that night though, probably they were asleep *shrugs*. Seats were decorated along the deck and around the boat so that you could get a glimpse of another boat on the river. Private dinners and functions are often held here in this boat, with the crew walking back and forth from the main boat when serving food. The restaurant serves packaged seafood dinner which starts at a minimum RM300 to RM700 for 10pax. Yes it’s not cheap and from the local reviews heard here, the food could have been better. We had ordered the banana split which was served in a boat shaped plate and we noticed that other customers had ordered from the ice cream menu too. Ice cream always taste good anywhere, if you ask me so that was a good bonus. Overall, you could drop by for the ambiance and ice cream as it closes at midnight, everyday.
Address: Captain T Restaurant, PT 247, Seksyen 17, Jalan Jambatan Yahya Petra, Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Business Hours: Opens daily; 4pm – 12am
(8) Restoran Selera Cik Siti
We wanted to try out one of the local chain restaurants when we saw this restaurant while heading back home. Restoran Selera Cik Siti reminded me of Old Town Cafe or Pak Li Kopitiam chain except that this restaurant served Malaysian as well as Western food to its’ customers. The menu was pretty extensive and I had trouble deciding on what to eat. There was laksam, different types of fried rice and chicken chop. In the end, I went with Nasi Goreng Kelate while Bart decided on Nasi Goreng Cik Siti which costs RM15 each. Despite the cost, the food portion for Nasi Goreng Kelate was quite big as it came with keropok, fried egg, chicken and sambal belacan. The Nasi Goreng Cik Siti on the other hand came with tempura chicken, spicy beef, soup and fried egg which was equally delicious. Perhaps the next round, we’ll try the chicken chop and add that in the review too.
Address: Restoran Selera Cik Siti, Taman Kenangan (Jalan Abdul Kadir Adabi), Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Business Hours: Opens daily; 5pm – 1am
(9) Warung Nasi Air & Air Kelapa Cherang
In front of the Restoran Selera Cik Siti sits a stall under a shady tree, a popular spot for the locals to have nasi air for lunch. I know at another local hot spot called Nasi Air Mak Su Nab is well known here but according to the locals, this is also a good option to consider when spotting food in Kota Bharu. Opened for lunch on-wards, it is easy to spot the stall from the main road as there’s a tall pile of used coconut shells beside it. Now the nasi air consists of rice (instead of noodles) in clear chicken broth, ikan bilis, bawang goreng, peanuts and a squash of limau for the zesty flavour. This dish is reminiscent of the one we ate in Bangkok, which I truly miss. A bowl of nasi air goes for RM2.50 while the iced coconut drink costs RM1 each. If your tummy is still not full, you could always order another bowl to go.
Address: Warung Nasi Air & Air Kelapa Cherang, Taman Kenangan (Jalan Abdul Kadir Adabi), Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Business Hours: Opens daily; 11am – 3pm
(10) Restoran Nasi Ulam Cikgu
I rarely eat ulam whenever I have rice for lunch but recently it has become a new habit as vegetables are known to be good for the body and skin. This restaurant serves a spread of ulam or vegetables which you can eat with your rice and other dishes available, at an affordable price. I went nuts with the four angled bean vegetables and together with that we ordered the ikan singgang, ikan bakar and budu (a fermented fish sauce) that is popular among the Kelantanese. It can get crowded during lunch hours but there’s still plenty of seats as the restaurant is well prepared with the visitors coming into the Crafts Village area. When we got our bill we were surprised to see the amount which was RM16 for the three of us because what we ordered was quite a lot. So if you happen to go sightseeing in the town area, do drop by this restaurant for lunch with the locals.
Address: Restoran Nasi Ulam Cikgu, Jalan Hilir Kota, Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Business Hours: Opens daily (except Fridays); 11am – 5pm
Other recent stories of Kelantan can be found here:
Have you ever tried any of the restaurants mentioned above? What other restaurants have you spotted in Kota Bharu?
About Yafieda Jamil
Yafieda Jamil (fienuts) is a travel blogger from Kuala Lumpur and now makes a living in The Kingdom of Wonder (Cambodia). Her blog, The Travel Chameleon is about the journey of a Malaysian girl who loves a good road trip and blending in with the locals wherever she goes. When she’s not on the road, she's at the beach with her sunglasses and flip flops, instagramming the world.