Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The East Coast Chronicles: Kemaman

I used to go to the East Coast a lot during my days in advertising. Some of our best clients were in Kuantan, Cherating and Kemaman.

In Kemaman, things sure have changed since. Small towns got bigger. Narrow roads got wider. Roadside stalls got demolished. The fishing village is vanishing, the makciks that used to sell keropok lekor are now fewer in numbers.

There was a small roadside stall in those days along Pantai Geliga, run by all the females of a family. They sold the best satar I've ever tasted.

Satar is mainly made up of fish, coconut, shallots, chillies and ginger, mixed to a paste and wrapped in coconut leaf, then grilled over low fire. The best ones are the savoury ones (so many people make it too sweet), and this particular stall at Pantai Geliga is rather famous, even in those days. Apparently they were among the first ones to sell satar. Today, they are even listed in the Tourism Terengganu website!

When I went there recently, it just wasn't the same anymore. It used to be a place where you could hang out with good food, pleasant company and scenic views. Now, the beach road is no longer there, replaced by a big and busy road. The patrons of the stall are mostly locals from around the area, and the overall ambience just isn't as friendly and laid-back as in the old days.

The place was jam-packed with people, and we couldn't get a table. In the end, we just ordered some to take-away. Despite the unwelcoming changes, one thing still remained the same...the satar was still damn good!

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