Kuantan is the capital of the state of Pahang, facing the South China Sea on the east coast of Malaysia. Due to its close proximity to the sea, this growing city has got some pretty awesome seafood, as well as local fares. If you’re exploring this part of the country and have a day or two to spare; make sure you drop by Kuantan and try some of its food selections.
I was born in Kuantan, and lived in the city for most of my childhood; so I can’t have a travel blog and not write about my favorite things to eat in Kuantan! Most of the restaurants in this list have been around for a long long time and I have been frequenting them since I was young– somehow, the flavours of childhood always stick with you forever.
So here’s sharing my Top 10 favorite restaurants in Kuantan. These are places I must go to whenever I make a trip back because they remind me of ‘home’. They are the flavors I have grown to know and love… you know, it brings back that nostalgic feeling.
1) Curry Noodles at Hoi Yin Restaurant
This is one of the most popular places in Kuantan to have curry noodles— my childhood friends and I used to come here a lot back then. It’s at an ideal location too; right next to Kuantan’s main beach, Teluk Chempedak. The place gets packed during breakfast time, so go early or you may be disappointed– it runs out by 10-11am. The curry broth here is mildly spicy and creamy, but if you want that extra punch, add in some additional chili sambal sauce. Don’t worry if you can’t take the spice though, the restaurant also serves noodles in clear soup and soy sauce. The bowls of broth are filled with noodles (mee, meehoon or kuey teow), steamed chicken, tofu puffs, fish cakes, bean sprouts and cockles– and are available in small, large and jumbo sizes.
Location: No. 31, Jalan Teluk Cempedak, Kuantan.
Operatings Hours: 7am-2pm (or sold out), closed alternate Mondays.
2) Nasi Lemak at Kedai Kopi Ah Soon
This small kopitiam (coffee shop) is located in a housing area in Kubang Buaya, right next to the Kuantan Specialist Hospital. A favourite local joint, it is packed during breakfast and the star of the show is their homemade Nasi Lemak— with various choices of side dishes like curry chicken, fried chicken, squid, prawns and vegetables. The lady who runs the stall has been serving up plates of this national dish of coconut infused rice for more than 20 years. It usually gets sold out by 10am so make your way there as early as you can. The coffee shop though, is opened until lunch time… and the Curry Noodles are pretty awesome too. This is my favorite place to have Nasi Lemak in Kuantan (or anywhere else). I never miss a visit every time I’m home.
Location: Lorong Kubang Buaya 21, off Jalan Kubang Buaya, Kuantan.
Operating Hours: 7.30am-12pm (or sold out), daily.
3) New Capitol Chicken Rice
This Chicken Rice shop, located in the centre of Kuantan town is a local institution. I am a huge fan of chicken rice and have been frequenting this restaurant with my parents since I was a child… and have seen the restaurant passed down from father to son. The quality of chicken rice here has remained the same throughout the years; and it’s a special local recipe you won’t find anywhere else. The lightly roasted chicken is soft, tender and flavorful. Try the curry wild boar too, it’s delicious. The shop itself though, is located beneath an old run down hotel, and does need an overhaul after all these years. Cleanliness could be better maintained too.
Location: 59, Jalan Bukit Ubi, Kuantan.
Opening Hours: 8am-3pm, daily with unfixed closed days.
4) Terminal Satay Zul
This satay station has been around for more than 40 years and offers the best satay (meat skewers) in town; and a variety too– chicken, beef, mutton, rabbit, deer and ox tripe. The seasoned meat is soft, tender and the meat portion per stick is pretty generous; it goes well with the delicious peanut sauce. The restaurant also serves a pretty commendable dish of nasi lemak amongst other local food like nasi dagang, mee bakso, fried noodles/rice and fried quail. The service though, can be really slow… so bring a bagful of patience especially when it’s packed. The restaurant is now a chain, with one or two other branches in the centre of Kuantan town.
Location: No. A 2600, Jalan Alor Akar, Kuantan.
Operating Hours: 6pm-12.30am, closed alternate Mondays.
5) Alor Akar Seafood
You can’t go to Kuantan and not have at least one seafood meal! There are tons of really good seafood restaurants in Kuantan, but the most popular place (where everyone seems to go to) is Alor Akar Seafood. The restaurant is always packed during dinner time, so my family’s strategy whenever we want to eat at this restaurant is to either head there just as they open, or after 9pm. Unfortunately, if you arrive late, their star dishes would probably be sold out. Some of the specialties are spicy sweet sour tilapia fish, herbal beggar chicken, spicy pineapple crabs, pork and fruits in yam cake and hot pot tofu. Oh, and don’t forget to order their homemade sugarcane juice, or chrysanthemum ginseng tea. I love those.
Location: Lot 7695 & 7696, Jalan Kubang Buaya, Kuantan.
Operating Hours: 6pm-12am, daily.
6) Ana Ikan Bakar Petai
If there is one dish that Kuantan is famous for, it is the ikan bakar, or barbecued fish. Just across the Kuantan River from the centre of Kuantan town is the village of Tanjung Lumpur— and it is here that almost all the ikan bakar stalls are. The most famous one is Ana Ikan Bakar Patin, located just off the main stretch of the road. From just a small stall, they have now expanded to two huge restaurants with ample parking space. People come from all over Malaysia to sample their ikan bakar petai (stink beans)– the fish is wrapped in banana leaf and the topping is sweet and mildly spicy, with black sauce and a homemade sour chili paste as condiments. Patrons are given the option to choose their own fish, and other seafood (like squid, prawns, crabs, shellfish); and determine the way they like it cooked. There is a large signboard in front of the restaurant to help you decide.
Location: Kampung Tanjung Lumpur, Kuantan.
Operating Hours: 5.30pm-12am, daily.
7) Nasi Lemak at Zaman Restaurant
Everyone I know seems to agree that this restaurant along the road from Kuantan town to Gambang (that leads to the East Coast Highway) serves the best nasi lemak bungkus (coconut infused rice wrapped in banana leaf) in town. Whether you are leaving Kuantan, or arriving in Kuantan in the morning, Zaman Restaurant is a must stop; and the place can get extremely packed. The restaurant is self-service– packets of nasi lemak are either left on the counter or on the tables, you just have to take one (or as many as you like) and dig in. The rice is rich with coconut milk and the generous amount of sambal is sweet, spicy and extremely flavourful. Don’t forget to get some of their delicious fried chicken as well. The restaurant also serves other dishes like roti canai, mee jawa and mee soto.
Location: Lot 1-3811, KM14 Jalan Gambang, Kuantan.
Opening Times: 6am-2pm, daily.
8) Mustafa Cendol and Rojak
There are two famous Cendol places to go to in Kuantan; one in town (Cendol Air Putih), and one on the way to the beach. My personal favorite place is the latter (its closer to my house), Mustafa Cendol. It’s been around ever since I was a young girl, and my dad used to bring me here at least once a week. This cendol place started out as a simple booth along the road but is now a restaurant serving local food as well. Other than its variety of cendol, you can opt for other ice desserts like ABC (Air Batu Campur – shaved ice topped with liquid sugar, syrup and condensed milk). Try their Rojak (a traditional fruit and vegetable dish with sweet and spicy peanut sauce), it’s delicious.
Location: Jalan Teluk Sisek, Kuantan (next to the Shell petrol station).
Operating Times: 11.30am-7pm, daily.
9) Keropok Lekor at Pak Soh Corner
Most states along the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia are famed for their keropok lekor (fried fish cakes), with visitors buying tons and tons of packets (of raw keropok) home. The keropok lekor in Pahang is slightly different to those in the northern states of Terengganu and Kelantan— the variety here is sliced and individually kneaded with flour before frying; giving it an extremely crispy outer layer, while remaining soft and fluffy inside. One of the more popular keropok lekor stalls in Kuantan is Pak Soh Corner, located about 15 minutes from Kuantan town, on the coastal road of Jalan Beserah heading towards the north. The stall also sells the local specialty, sata, which is coconut infused fish cakes roasted in banana leaf; as well as otak-otak (grilled fish cake), fried popiah (spring rolls), pisang goreng (fried bananas) and other Malay desserts. They make perfect tea time snacks.
Location: Cherating Tanjung Tengah, Sungai Karang (Balok).
Operating Hours: About 12pm-6pm, daily.
10) Yong Tau Fu at Jess Cafe
This restaurant is the only one on the list that was not yet around during my childhood days in Kuantan. I am including Jess Cafe because I frequent it quite often during my visits back home these days. A friend recommended it to me a couple years back, and I absolutely love their yong tau fu (bean curd and fish cakes stuffed with fish paste) and curry noodles. The yong tau fu is generously stuffed; and the curry noodle broth is thick, sweet and mildly spicy, with curry chicken and tofu puffs. The restaurant also serves the noodles in clear broth or dark sauce. If you’re not in the mood for noodles, they do have other meal selections like rice with stir fried chicken and pork dishes that are absolutely delicious too.
Location: No. A15, Jalan Seri Kuantan 80, Kuantan.
Operating Hours: 9am-6pm, daily, closed Mondays.
After all these years having left Kuantan, I am sure there are other new great places to eat popping up all over the city. So if you have any suggestions on how I can get to know my hometown a little better through its food; let me know by commenting below!