There were so many Mamak restaurants in Alor Setar in the past with great food to be enjoyed. The older generations remember fondly of Kedai No. 36, the original Nasi Lemak Royal stall at the Royal Cinema building, Nasi Lemak Ali, Bunga Tanjong (Malay restaurant), the Mamak restaurant in front of Market Besar (Main Market) near Tun Mahathir's birthplace, Mee Abu and Rose Restaurant. The modernization or progress in Alor Setar in the 1980s saw these shops of the old either faded away or relocated. There are also some who maintained and became some sort of a legend, such as Mee Abu. Nasi Lemak Royal made a comeback in the late 1990s by opening a few branches. Nasi Lemak Ali remained where it has been for decades and became legendary as it is now frequented by customers coming even as far away from Singapore.
Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Rose Restaurant was reputed to have the best murtabak in town. However, in the mid-1980s, people claim that the taste and quality of the murtabak went down because the cook always makes the murtabak in bulk. I never knew whether this is true or not as I was not around in Alor Setar that much at the time.
The development of Alor Setar brought about changes in infrastructrure of the town and with more and more traffic and less parking area, Rose Restaurant became virtually inaccessible to people who drives around in town. With fast food franchises pulling the young crowd away, and with other stalls and eateries cropping up, Rose Restaurant seems to lose its glory.
We happened to walk by near Rose Restaurant a few days ago, and as that nostalgic feeling kicked in, I decided to go into the restaurant, with my wife and son as well. The place had changed so much. Gone is the air-conditioned 2nd floor, there were no mamaks. The owner is Indian Muslim, either 2nd or 3rd generation with a Malay wife and his staff are all Malays. Nasi Kandar is still there, along with the addition of Malay/Thai food and of course, the murtabak.
The price is quite reasonable for a murtabak that size and that good, which is at RM3.50. For those who seeks a good murtabak within Alor Setar town itself, I would recommend Rose Restaurant, located at Jalan Tengku Ibrahim, which is about 5 minutes walk from Pekan Rabu and 3 minutes walk from City Plaza. It is located directly accross Kedah Shopping Centre and next to RHB Bank. Check it out, it is the place where the taste stood out with history.
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