This is my second post on Mok Teh. To read the first post, click here.
As promised, my dad and I went back to Mok Teh after our usual morning walks to try more of what Mok Teh has to offer, especially the nasi dagang Terengganu.
Again, the restaurant is very clean compared to your average eateries. We were there at about 9am and there weren’t that many people yet.
We took the nasi dagang, laksam and nasi lemak ikan. We also took some kuihs.
SECTION I: MAIN COURSE
Nasi Dagang (RM3.50)
The nasi dagang comes wrapped in banana leaf. Inside you will find only rice and fish, so you’ll have to unwrap it and pour the kuah* yourself. The acar can also be found in mini plastic bags next to the kuah.
*Note: When I say kuah, I am referring to the liquid portion of a dish. There is no correct word in English for kuah. Gravy is usually thick and used sparingly. Sauce is more of an accompaniment. Therefore from now on I will continue using the word kuah because Malay dishes are more or less defined by types of kuah. For instance, curry is a type of kuah. So are rendang, kerutuk, kuzi, masak lemak etc.
This is how Mok Teh’s nasi dagang looks like in completion.
Rice covered in gulai ikan tongkol (tuna) with a side of acar.
The portion is small, I think about 100 grams of rice and a small portion of tuna. Great for people who can’t have a huge breakfast!
Verdict: In my opinion, the best dish Mok Teh has to offer. I take back my recommendation in my last post for the nasi minyak + ayam merah (please note on my last visit, I did not try the nasi dagang). Compared to the rest, the nasi minyak is more expensive (RM5.50) and the taste is nothing special. The nasi dagang on the other hand was good enough for me to finish.
I’m not that big a fan of nasi dagang. To finish it means it’s either good… or it doesn’t taste like nasi dagang :p Haha, why don’t you try and be the judge.
Since I’m not that reliable, I will let my dad do the reviewing.
According to him, the rice was good – Soft, lemak (rich – from the coconut milk) and savoury.
The kuah was so-so. My mom and dad are both accustomed to the Kelantanese** version of nasi dagang, so compared to that, Mok Teh’s nasi dagang tasted flat and quite bland. “It wasn’t bad,” he said. “Just average.”
**Note: Kelantan is a Malaysian state neighbouring Terengganu. Being neighbours, these two states share a lot of things in common – culture, food, words. But being neighbours, both the Kelantanese and Terengganuans also engage in sometimes bitter rivalry in almost everything. Really, neighbours only unite when faced with bigger rivals – namely Singapore or Indonesia. Don’t we just love picking fights with our neighbours?
Being raised by a Kelantanese mother, I very much have Kelantanese tendencies and preferences in my blood (despite being born in Selangor). In the spirit of fairness, I will strive to compare food within the same state. And as far as nasi dagang Terengganu goes, I think it’s pretty good… in my limited experience.
2. Laksam (RM3.50)
The dish comes wrapped in one huge plastic bag containing the laksam (the white rolled up thing – it’s made of rice flour, water and salt), sambal (fresh chillies beaten within an inch of their lives), ulam (a combination of thinly sliced fresh vegetables like cucumber, long beans, cabbage and some herbs) and of course the kuah, of which the main ingredients are coconut milk and fish.
Haiyah, so tired la putting notes here and there, but I have to. Again, laksam is a dish local to both Kelantan and Terengganu. When it comes to laksam, I’m very hard to please. The best laksam I’ve ever tasted in my life was a few years ago and I got it from a Ramadhan Bazaar. I’m still kicking myself for not getting the vendor’s phone number. To this day, I still dream about it.
My definition of a good laksam is simple, the ulam has to be fresh, and the make-it-or-break-it component is the kuah. It has to have enough santan (coconut milk) and must be generous with fish. The fish has to be boiled until it’s cooked, flaked (and de-boned) and mashed, mixed with other ingredients and cooked again on low heat to produce a thick, soft consistency, free of fish bones. It’s time consuming and not to mention expensive to make, since the price of fish in Malaysia has sky-rocketed in recent years. When I see cheap laksam, I don’t get my hopes up.
Verdict: Mok Teh’s laksam fell flat on its face. The gravy, on top of being watery, had an overwhelming taste of black pepper. It tasted like the chicken chop black pepper gravy I had at Cosy House in Great Eastern Mall. I will not buy the laksam again.
Proof of my feelings and my dad’s feelings combined (yes two people ate this dish):
3. Nasi Lemak Ikan (Price: RM3.50)
If you’re Malaysian, jump to verdict. This portion is for non-Malaysians.
Nasi lemak is a nationwide favourite, darling food of Malaysians of all backgrounds. If you ever come to Malaysia and can only try one dish, try nasi lemak.
Nasi means rice while lemak literally means fat, because the rice is (again) cooked with a generous amount of coconut milk. For calorie-conscious people, one helping of this heavenly fatty rice is equivalent to three portions of normal white rice. Just putting it out there.
Nasi lemak usually comes with boiled egg, fried anchovies, slices of fresh cucumber and the all important sambal (chilli also beaten and ground to death, although this time you fry them too).
Sometimes Malaysians feel like they are not fat enough, so on top of fat rice and fried anchovies and the oily sambal, they accompany it with different types of dish like chicken rendang, squid swimming in sambal or beef in soy sauce (this list is non-exhaustive).
Fish as an accompaniment is less typical but Terengganu food has fish in everything (being an east-coastal state), so it makes sense to have one in nasi lemak as well.
Phew, sorry for that long intro, but I do try to make this blog non-Malaysian friendly, so thank you for bearing with me 🙂
Verdict: The nasi lemak ikan gets thumbs up from my dad and I. The sambal passed the test for good flavour, which is really the one thing that can make or break a nasi lemak. Wasn’t too spicy (not that I mind spicy food), nice balance of saltiness and a just a tinge of sweetness. The rice just has to be soft and hot, which is difficult to mess up (although some people do mess it up. But not Mok Teh).
We totally cleaned out the nasi lemak.
Revised recommendations: In my last post, I recommended the nasi minyak + ayam merah. Cancel that. If you find yourself at Mok Teh, go for the nasi dagang and the nasi lemak ikan. The other food is also okay, but they are nothing special. I don’t recommend the laksam.
In the end, my dad bought two more packets of nasi dagang for my brother while my mom and I bought a packet of nasi lemak ikan each for ourselves.
SECTION II: KUIH
1. Kuih Serabe (Can’t remember the price, I think about RM2 per packet)
Also in my last post, I mentioned that the kuih serabe really missed the mark for me. I think it’s important to mention that perhaps this might be the way they have it in Terengganu. There was this elderly Malay couple sitting at a table next to mine and I saw the husband had several packets of kuih serabe on his table. When he was already settled, he dumped several packets on his plate and covered them in thick sauce.
I went over and asked them if they were from Terengganu. The wife said she’s from Terengganu, and that this is the way she liked the kuih. Not too sweet. While I was conversing with her, the husband took yet another packet of santan sauce and dumped it on the kuih.
There’s the white sauce, which is mainly coconut milk to give the rich flavour, and there’s the brown-coloured sauce to add the sweetness. The wife said you can eat the kuih with either of the sauce or both, if you so prefer.
2. Akok (RM2 per packet)
I think I’ve figured out what I dislike about this particular akok. I think it’s the sugar glazing on the outside. While people seldomly use gula merah (coconut sugar) anymore these days to make kuih because it’s expensive, akoks usually taste nice from the inside, if it makes sense. Meaning, the akok itself is supposed to be sufficiently sweet without the help of any glazing on the outside.
The glazing literally tasted like white sugar diluted in water and poured over the akok. If it’s not white sugar, then maybe some other form of syrup. Whatever it is, I dislike it because it tasted too strong and artificial.
3. Pulut Lepa (RM1.50 each)
My dad raved about the pulut lepa the last time we were here. Naturally, he decided to buy it again.
Unfortunately, the quality isn’t consistent. The pulut (glutinous rice) was not soft and quite dry. The fish flakes were also dry and tasteless. Fork out RM1.50 each at your own risk.
4. Temosa/Semosa (RM0.60 each) – Recommended
Temosa looks like karipap on the outside, but it’s much smaller in size and the inside contains fish floss or fish flakes. Karipap on the other hand contains cubed potatoes and if you’re lucky, some meat like minced chicken or minced beef.
My dad jumped with excitement when he saw temosa and better yet, it tastes really good! No arguments here. If you’re here, get it.
My dad even decided to buy two packets of the frozen version of Mok Teh’s temosa because he liked it so much. I think it’s partially cooked, so you’ll have to fry it again when you want to eat it.
From speaking to a number of people, I found out that the owner is actually an ex-MRSM*** student in Kuala Terengganu. A lot of the customers are fellow MRSM students and Terengganuans who go there to show support and because it suits their taste.
***Note: MRSM is a boarding school in Malaysia.
And that wraps up my review on Mok Teh’s food! 😀
More eateries to come, stay tuned!