The great thing about going to the East Coast, other than salty breezes that greet you on the coastal roads, is of course the abundance of fresh seafood. Otak-otak fat with fresh fish, daily caught squid dipped in batter then fried, superb keropok lekor and of course nasi dagang. True, having such a heavy breakfast might make you redundant for the rest of the day but given the languid pace, you can afford to indulge a little
Fragrant and riddled with fish chunks
2 km from the Kuala Ibai bridge,
Going through my Terengganu pictures the other day, I came across some nasi dagang snapshots. Mmm... lovely white glutinous rice with a splash of light curry usually made with tongkol (a local tuna) and some acar. I always preferred the Terengganu kind rice white instead of speckled brown like the Kelantanese version and not as rich. Plus the curry is sligtly spicier. In Chendering there's this famous nasi dagang run by the infamous 'Mak Ngah'.
This place achieved a bit of notoreity a few years back when someone complained that the old lady charged almost RM50 for her nasi dagang. She countered back saying that the punter wanted the expensive fish head and that he 'tapau' a large amount. Seems that a bit of a reputation is good for business. This nasi dagang place is always full. Come rubbing sleep from your eyes after 11am and there's nothing left.
Although a lot of locals say that the nasi dagang here is 'richer' than the simpler version you get at the market, I find Mak Ngah's very satisfying. Here you get rice on a banana leaf soaked with curry containing plenty of fish chunks and a whole boiled egg. This boiled egg is delicious because the curry has plenty of time to seep deep into it. Best thing about this place is that on the table are containers full of cili padi in vinegar. So this is how I like to eat my nasi dagang. Take a generous spoonful of chillies and mix it in with the rice. Inhale the wonderful fragrance of the rice, curry and vinegar. Then eat with abandon.
This place also serves simple meehoon if you would like to opt for something lighter. Most people though have a packet of meehoon first as an entree while waiting for the rice to arrive. Eventhough this place is always full and you have to jostle with strangers to eat here, there is a deliberate pace to this eatery. The matriarch- Mak Ngah I pressume sits on a special platform surrounded by her wares. She's almost a Yoda-like character, unsmiling, sage-like with nasi dagang wisdom and unrushed. This is her little throne where she lords over her children and cousins that scuttle about serving food and making drinks.
Only her and her alone is allowed to pack the meehoon and nasi dagang. She takes just the right amount of rice, curry and fish chunks, heap it on a banana leaf and hand it over to the servers. No matter how many people are queuing up, she works with an unhurried rhythm. Leaf, scoop rice, chunks, egg and curry gravy. It's worth coming here just to see her at work plus her nasi dagang is good. The curry is subtly fishy exploding in your mouth with each mouthful. The portion is just nice for a bracing breakfast and I guarantee if you make the effort to come here, you will have another 2 or 3.
There's also freshly fried keropok lekor here to munch on. And it's the honest truth that no matter how good the keropok is in KL, nothing beats eating it in Terengganu itself. I'll be going to Terengganu in a couple of days. I can taste that nasi dagang already.
Opens from 7am- 11am
Prices: Ranges between RM2.50- RM3.50 (depending on how much you scoff down)