Kota Bharu’s atmospheric central market, now known as Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah, is one of the quintessential must-visits for any sojourner to Kota Bharu:
One of my fave spots at Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah, besides its colourful “kueh” (traditional Malay cakes & sweetmeats) section on the ground floor, is the cooked food section on the 2nd floor of the market. There, one can find almost any type of Malay savoury hawker dishes known to mankind. My destination there is usually Maheran - the laksa purveyor who offers the Kelantanese-style laksa lemak: noodles smothered with a pale, off-white coconut milk-rich fish gravy, chockfull of minced fish-meat and rendered slightly sourish with the use of tamarind pieces.
Kelantan laksa is totally different from its more famous counterparts like Penang assam laksa, Singapore curry laksa or Sarawak laksa. It also happened to be my favourite laksa above all.
There are two types of rice noodles used for Kelantanese laksa:
Laksa (pronounced “lak-saw”) which uses the coarse rice noodles also used in Penang or Singapore versions of laksa. The noodles will be topped with finely-chopped cucumber, onions, torch ginger, pineapple and lettuce leaves, then covered with the rich, fish gravy.
Laksam (pronounced “lak-seh”), where thick, fat rolls of rice noodles, similar to Chinese “cheung fun” is used. But the texture is the only difference as the same condiments and garnishes are used. In both cases, a dollop of sambal belacan is also provided to add the extra spike of flavours and a bit of chilli heat.
2nd floor, Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah
15000 Kota Bharu, Kelantan