The rustic virtues of Kelantanese food are greatly underrepresented in KL – there are some solid options in Kampung Baru, a new-ish nasi Kak Wok stall in Shah Alam, and a scatter of barely-knowns far and between. So it’s exciting to come across a place like Kesom. It’s the type of restaurant that has the potential to properly acquaint Kelantanese fare to the KL masses, to make it accessible.
Kesom is located in the depths of Aman Suria – a suburb I don’t often find myself rushing to for a meal – and attached to blast-from-the-past boutique Blöok. Co-owner and Kelantan native Susan Lim runs the boutique with her partner Edana, while Kesom is an expression of their love for the food of their mother state. The space is set like a Malaysian café in a mall – generic, but with bonus trays of food displayed zhap fan-style.
Susan is quick to run through the items on the menu; it’s only been five minutes and the display of great hospitality has me reassured. I order the signature nasi dagang with gulai ‘Raja Berangkat’, acar, boiled egg, sambal ikan, sambal belacan and keropok. The nasi – brown wild grains – isn’t the rich, sticky type, and instead takes on the role of blank canvas for the gulai, which in turn thrives on the sweetness of pineapple and the fattiness of kerisik and santan.
The best thing you’ll eat at Kesom is the nasi kerabu. If you’ve never found a decent version in KL, I predict days of sunshine ahead of you. It was Susan’s knack for this dish that prompted the pair of owners to chalk up the concept of Kesom. She steams basmati rice in individual portions together with fresh bunga talang for a pretty shade of cornflower blue. The rice is dressed like a queen with acar, salted egg, shallots, kerisik, serunding ikan, ulam, four-angled beans and sambal belacan. What could easily be a collision of textures is a balanced tease of sourness, sweetness and crunch from each component. The fish floss in particular is outstanding, and its mild coarseness is a tiny surprise in every other bite. I order a piece of ayam goreng rempah on the side, but really, it’s unnecessary next to a salad this tasty.
For good measure, I pick a plate of sambal petai from the open tray at the counter, and once again, it scores a home run. The vegetable is firm and mildly bitter, the tiny shrimps are little morsels of sweetness, and the thick paste that holds the two is good enough with plain steamed rice alone. Meanwhile, the chicken curry, into which I annoyingly dip my leftover keropok, is surprisingly tangy and mild, great for those who flee from heat. Susan says the curry powder is sourced from Kelantan, as is the very spirit of Kesom.
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|Opening hours:||Mon-Thu, 10am-5pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-9pm; Sun, 10am-3pm|