For the best Malay food in the world, come to Kota Bharu, Kelantan. Nowhere can one find such finesse in Malay-style cooking which oftentimes comes to perfection. One of Kelantanese cuisine’s jewel in the crown is the Ayam Percik, impossibly fragrant and delicious barbecued chicken, continually basted with a subtly-spiced coconut crème-galangal-chilli-spice gravy during the open-grilling process.
And the best-known place in Kota Bharu for this? Yati Ayam Percik, of course. I first tasted Yati back in the late-60s/early-70s - then located near Kota Bharu’s central market. These days, Yati has its own restaurant - part air-conditioned, and part al fresco at Jalan Long Yunos, on the eastern fringe of the town.
Ayam Percik is traditionally grilled over open flames, then served oftentimes paired with Nasi Kerabu (rice with toasted, grated coconut & chopped herbs), a whol bulb of pickled garlic (a Kelantan specialty), salted duck’s egg and solok lada (steamed green chillis stuffed with grated coconut-minced fish).
Yati also offers Gulai Kawah (“Crater Curry”) - mutton curry cooked in a huge crater-like vessel. It’s tasty but a wee bit too salty for my taste. And like almost all Kelantanese-Malay cuisine, it’s not chilli-hot as the Kelantanese taste-buds eschew hot flavours.
We also ordered a curried beef, Daging Kerutuk, but it didn’t make that much of an impression after the stratospheric flavour heights of the Ayam Percik.
Yati Ayam Percik
847, Jalan Long Yunus
15200 Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Malaysia
Tel: +60 9-747 9867
Operating hours: 12 midnight to 10.30pm daily.