Eating Non-Stop from Kuala Selangor to Sabak Bernam
From 11 until 14 June 2015, Gaya Travel Magazine teamed up with the Selangor State Planning Unit in organising a programme called Eat.Travel.Write Selangor Culinary Adventure 2015, which was essentially a gastronomic exploration trail to promote the local and traditional culinary offerings that can be found along the Kuala Selangor-Sekinchan-Sabak Bernam stretch, besides experiencing selected attractions and accommodations along the way. 25 local and international media representatives participated in this four-day-and-three-night programme, which is held in conjunction with Visit Selangor Year 2015. The programme was launched by YB Puan Gan Pei Nei, the Assistant State Executive Councillor for Tourism, Environment, Green Technology and Consumer Affairs.
(Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 10.4 Issue.)
Bukit Melawati or Melawati Hill was Selangor’s administrative centre and stronghold of the Selangor Sultanate back in the late 18th and early 19th century. Visitors normally go to the top of the hill to admire the panoramic view of the Selangor coastline. To get to the top of the hill, there is a tram that plies the route, charging RM5 per person per ride. Once arrived on top of the hill, we witnessed relics of the past, including the protective walls of the fort, the palace ground, a lighthouse, royal graves, seven stone walls, a flat stone used to behead offenders back then, a 100-step ladder, a poisonous well and several cannons pointing towards the north of the Selangor River.
Bukit Melawati is also home to the silver-leafed monkeys and long-tailed macaques, which visitors can feed by purchasing peanuts from the vendors around the area. We sat close to the monkeys and fed them but it is highly advisable for visitors to maintain their distance just in case the monkeys become violent at the sight of food. These creatures could also be aggressive when provoked or teased.
Getting there: Bukit Melawati, Jalan Raja Lumu, 45000 Kuala Selangor, Selangor, Malaysia
Coordinate: 3.341020N, 101.248819E
The Kabin, Pantai Remis
One of the reasons why Kuala Selangor is increasing in popularity as a getaway is not just due to its seaside location and local food, but also interesting places to stay. One such place is The Kabin, which consists of 18 accommodation units, including the café cum reception area, made from recycled shipping containers and converted into hospitable cabins. The Kabin offers guests the chance to stay at an accommodation that has been innovatively and chicly designed. Since the interior of each cabin is compact, they are perfect for travellers who travel light. Each cabin is named after an international container port – guests who prefer to jump into the pool right away from their very cabins can choose to stay at Rotterdam, Durban, Santos and Balboa. The Kabin also comes with a standard-sized pool that is popular among guests, including a cosy café. The Kabin also rents out barbeque sets for guests to use, as well as bicycles to explore the surrounding area.
|The Kabin, Lot 2984 Jalan Jati, Pantai Remis, 45800 Jeram, Kuala Selangor, Malaysia.|
|Coordinate: 3.195 N, 101.307 E
Phone: +6017 678 3825
Cooking with the Oyster Master @ the Kabin
After a quick rest, the participants of Eat.Travel.Write Selangor Culinary Adventure 2015 took part in a cooking competition held by The Kabin’s pool side. Chef Afiq Abdullah – the owner of De Serai Café & Catering cum the Oyster Master due to his expertise in making oyster dishes – led the evening by refereeing a cooking competition. As such, all participants were given cooking utensils, recipes and TurfHunt app (similar to Waze) to hunt oysters. Everyone excitedly ran in groups of three to hunt for oysters and quickly returned to the pool to start cooking. The challenge was in cracking open the oyster because we needed to find the “opening” spot to scoop the flesh out – some groups whacked the oysters on the floor instead. All groups demonstrated their creativity and competitive spirit. In the end, after Chef Afiq tasted all groups’ oyster dish, he declared that the group called ‘Tuan Tuan and Puan Puan’ as the winner. Overall, it was an exciting game and the participants learned the valuable lesson on how to prepare delicious oyster dish.
The little bug that flicker
Late in the evening, we were ferried over to Kampung Kuantan to observe fireflies (kelip-kelip). Several manually-powered boats – each sits four persons – brought us closer to the only insects in the world that can produce its own light. The ticket price for a 20-minute ride along the stretch of river and back is RM53 per person. Thousands of fireflies can be seen directly from the boat and the view was, needless to say, enchanting. Photographers were warned not to use the flash at it would scare the fireflies away. Some took the photos of the fireflies using bokeh effect; others tried to capture them as real as they could using camera features that accommodate low light; but everybody was definitely in awe and wonder. Observing these fireflies is definitely a must when travellers are in Kuala Selangor.
Getting there: Kampung Kelip-Kelip, Batang Berjuntai, Selangor, Malaysia
Coordinate: 3.388203N, 101.415178E
Rempeyek Master @ Sekinchan
It takes approximately an hour and a half by bus to Homestay Sungai Sireh in Sekinchan from Kuala Selangor. When we arrived at this popular homestay, we were served with many types of traditional homemade kuih (bit-sized snacks) such as fried tapioca, banana fritters, fried sukun (breadfruit), fried keladi (taro), pecal (mixed vegetable salad with savoury sauce) along with catfish cooked with chili sauce and white gravy. For beverage, we had rucuh, a concoction made from sirap bandung (pink shingle syrup) with steamed tapioca immersed in it! It was weird when we first tasted it but become better after a few sips, similar to a fizzy drink. We were warned that too much of rucuh could get us drunk. After enjoying the refreshments, we took a long tram, similar to the tram we took at Bukit Melawati, to tour the area and enjoy the kampung scenery.
It was raining by the time we arrived at a traditional house, where the participants took the rempeyek challenge. First, the participants were shown how to make rempeyek, which looked easy but in actual fact it was quite difficult to mix and stir when frying it in boiling oil. The international participants claimed that they could never compete with Malaysians but in the end, even Malaysians ruin the taste of rempeyek because of over-frying or lacking in cooking skills! Some of the participants assisted the locals in making Kuih Puteri Mandi while others were frying rempeyek. The participants later were treated to coconut jelly and Kuih Puteri Mandi (lumps of glutinous jelly immersed in coconut milk and palm sugar) by the hosts.
The House of Ah Ma
For those who fancy kuih kapit (crispy Chinese wafers), they would never want to leave this place. Kuih kapit is also called Love Letters. In the olden days, it was a way for lovers to communicate and they believed that by consuming the message in the form of kuih kapit, the lovers’ words would go down to the heart. At House of Ah Ma, it felt like we were taken back in time due to the nostalgic displays and products.
House of Ah Ma is divided into two parts: the outer area is where customers wait for their orders from the kueh kapit makers; and the inner area where plenty of classic decorations consisting rattan chairs, vintage bags and handful of chocolates and candies from the 90s can be found. Many Eat.Travel.Write Selangor Culinary Adventure 2015 participants grew up with these candies, thus bought them since they are hardly found in Kuala Lumpur. Customised cotton candy is also one of the popular products that ca be bought here. Their shapes vary and we even managed to get the ones that looked like ducks.
Besides kueh kapit, House of Ah Ma offers classic buggy service at the cost of RM5 per person. We took the buggy and rode along the paddy fields that glittered like gold, indicating that the paddy was ready to be harvested. The buggy proceeded to a temple and rice factory where travellers can learn about rice planting and harvesting. There are also plenty of food vendors at the rice factory selling snacks and dried seafood.
Getting there: Lot 10376, Jalan Tali air 5, Kampong Sekinchan, 45400 Sekinchan, Selangor, Malaysia.
Coordinate: 3.518267N, 101.096808E
Phone number: +6012 389 9888
#EatTravelWrite Favourite Dinner
Restoran Sekinchan Ikan Bakar
It was a pleasure to dine at Restoran Sekinchan Ikan Bakar, Pulau Redang. The food was excellent, we had grilled stingray, buttermilk prawn and squid, grilled fish, mixed vegetables, chicken cooked with spices and grilled scallops. Restoran Sekinchan Ikan Bakar specialises in serving fresh seafood plus and prepare them according to customers’ request. Be sure to visit the patin nursery and watch them becoming frenzy when being fed.
Getting there: 2, Jalan Puteri 1/8, Bandar Puteri, 47100 Puchong, Selangor, Malaysia
Coordinate: 3.025155N, 101.619516E
Phone: +6016 919 3424
#EatTravelWrite Favourite Breakfast
Homestay Haji Dorani
During the programme, the participants experienced living like a local when staying at at Haji Dorani Homestay in Sabak Bernam. The houses, which looked traditional, comprise living room, toilet and beds. Some of the houses even have pantries. Homestay Haji Dorani offers packages that include accommodation, breakfast, lunch and activities. Lucky for us, there was a harvest festival being held and we managed to join the fun! The festival started with breakfast consisting of the iconic nasi lemak and tapioca-based desserts made by the locals who are mostly Javanese descent.
Getting there: PT 1, Kampung Haji Dorani, Sungai Panjang, 45300, Sungai Besar, Selangor
Coordinate: 3.665085N, 101.015992E
Phone: +6013 607 7025
Mini Scavenger Hunt, Harvest Festival
After breakfast, we participated in traditional games competing with the locals such as eel-fishing, making traditional rokok (cigarette), making orang-orang (scarecrow), mengoca ikan (catching fish in the mud using hands) and making traditional trumpets using coconut leaves. The participants from Spain, Canada, Philippines and the United States were the most enthusiastic participants among all of us – they tried all of them! Making the traditional cigar and trumpet were not easy and we lost to the locals but we were quite formidable when it came to eel-fishing and mengoca ikan. Eel fishing was the most challenging since we only had logs found somewhere near the paddy field to be used as rods with chicken skin used as bait while the locals brought their modern fishing rods and fancy baits. We were pleasantly surprised to find that at least one of the programme participants successfully caught the eel. These activities gave room for all participants to bond with the locals and one another, which was amazing.
Nasi Ambeng Master @ Sabak Bernam
Nasi ambeng is a significant Javanese dish served during special occasions. In Sabak Bernam, Nasi Ambeng is normally peddled on early Friday morning, sold out by 11:00 a.m. Nasi Ambeng is made up of plain rice and other side dishes such as chicken cooked in sweet soy sauce, serunding daging (beef floss), sambal goreng tempe (stir fried compacted soy with chili), fried noodles and rempeyek. It is usually served in a huge platter to be shared with four persons or more. When we arrived, the dishes have already been cooked beforehand so we had the chance to help out by placing the rice along with the respective side dishes onto the platter. Watching the international participants assisting in serving the Nasi Ambeng was fun – they really enjoyed putting the different dishes in the huge platters and eventually eat them together.
#EatTravelWrite Favorite Lunch
Restoran Lembah Bernam
The journey then continued to Restoran Lembah Bernam. We were told that porcupines and deer will be cooked specially for us! The sweet tantalizing taste of porcupines here made the long journey worth it, even customers from other states are willing to come here to eat them! The savory porcupines and deer were matched with ikan masin (dried salted fish), ulam (traditional Malay salad), buttermilk tiger prawns, ikan baung (some sort of catfish species) curry and different kind of beverages of coconut, fresh oranges and sugarcanes. The set for lunch starts at RM35 per head (based on the menu) and some of us even brought back the dishes in small packages!
Getting there: Jalan Main Canal, Tali Air 9, Sekincan, Pasir Panjang, Selangor, Malaysia
Coordinate: 3.573153N, 101.116558E
Phone: +60 17 285 8603
#EatTravelWrite Selangor Signature Dish
Before the programme ended and the participants depart fom Sabak Bernam, we dropped by at the restaurant that serves fusion cuisine belonging to Chef Afiq the oyster master located on Redang Beach. He shared with us two new recipes he invented after drawing inspiration from the Eat.Travel.Write Selangor Culinary Adventure 2015 and after a lengthy conversation with one of the international participants who is also a famous travel video blogger, Brian Cox. He created a dish made from clear tom yam seafood soup topped with bread croissants called The Beautilicious Pie, which is a combination of east and west that gives multi-flavour experience all at once. Another unique dish we tasted was the deep-fried dory fish cooked with halibut roe and vegetables. Chef Afiq still has not named the dish and plans to run a competition for participants to come up with the best name. We washed down our food with a special refreshing beverage called tekukur swing made from mixed colourful jellies, vanilla, mint, soda, lemon juice and coconut. The drink was inspired by the Tekukur Island that can be seen in front of the restaurant. The meal we had at Chef Afiq’s restaurant ended the Eat.Travel.Write Selangor Culinary Adventure 2015 on a high note.
Where to stay: A+ Boutique Hotel
Located in Sekinchan, this quaint hotel is strategically located, besides being close to several eateries that foodies will enjoy. A+ boutique Hotel rooms come with high speed Wi-Fi, single-bed or twin sharing beds and spacious bathroom. The hotel also sports artsy and adorable murals on the rooftop of A+ Garden. The 3D murals are the hotel’s main attraction besides the Hello Kitty themed room.
Getting there: No 6 Jalan Perdana 2, Pekan Sekinchan, 45400 Sekinchan, Selangor, Malaysia
Coordinate: 3.507055N, 101.101245E
Phone: +603 3241 5555