The Legendary Siew Pau
If you ever come across Seremban and leave without hearing, smelling or eating the siew pau, then you can't claimed to have been to Seremban. This famous flaky pastry bun with meat filling is a God-sent snack! The glorious smell wafting towards you as it bakes in the oven is simply heavenly! Now, the Seremban Siew Pau is available almost anywhere in the country, but the best buns still comes from Seremban and nowhere else. In fact, the siew pau business has gotten so big that it is now a multi-million dollar business. Anywhere you go in Seremban, you will definitely come across these siew pau, even in the local coffee shops. So that the Malays can enjoy these buns as well, there are now "halal" buns to suit all taste buds! (Halal is a Quranic term, which means permitted, lawful or legal. This means, food or drink must be prepared in a way that is fit for Muslims' consumption).
Aside from the famed Siew Pau, Seremban is also well known for its scrumptious Nasi Padang or Minangkabau dishes. This dish promises to tease your taste buds and heightened your gastronomical pleasures. It is rich in coconut cream and is always accompanied by a generous dose of cili padi (bird's eye chili). So, prepare yourself for a rich, creamy and spicy round of assault! So good and so spicy, you will find your ears wiggling to the sensation! Try some of the stewed fish in coconut gravy with additional sambal belacan! Mamma mia? you are in for the ride of your life!
Another popular dish is the lemang, which is basically glutinous rice cooked in bamboo. This is always present during the Hari Raya festival and although available in almost every state in the country, somehow, nothing beats those in the state of Negeri Sembilan. The accompanying rendang gravy that goes with the lemang also promises a lovely sensation! The best places to locate good food in Seremban are at the stalls. Forgo the comfort of your hotel and the air-conditioned restaurants. Nothing beats the great food you can find right down at the casual stalls. If you want to taste Nasi Padang, there are still a few places that can whip up a good serving anytime you crave for it. Check out Hardy Restaurant at Betaria Business Center or the Benteng at Ampangan. Aside from these places, it is actually becoming quite difficult finding good Nasi Padang these days!
One good place for food is at the Seremban Wet Market (Pasar Besar Seremban). Here, the Lam Mee or Beef Noodles is absolutely the best! The bowl of noodles comes with thick slices of stewed beef that is well mixed with a delicious soy sauce! To wash it all down, slurp down a cup of thick black coffee that is served in those old fashion porcelain cups.
Food aside, Seremban is mainly a quiet and laidback town. Over the years, many cities and townships have grown alongside Seremban, but the town has remained the same. Humble, yet not too old fashion. It has all the amenities needed to fulfill the most difficult visitor! And perhaps, this is the charming part about Seremban - to be near yet removed from the big city. It has quite a number of misfortunes in the past - for instance, it cannot challenge the bright lights of Kuala Lumpur neither does it have the historical charms of Malacca. And then, back in 1999, the poor state was hit by the Japanese Encephalitis (JE) epidemic (later known as Nipah Virus) causing it to lose lots of money in the tourism business and turning many carnivorous pork-eaters away. Its most famous beach, Port Dickson is losing its popularity as well, with many claiming the beach to be dirty and polluted. Some liken it to wadding in mud. Despite that, the town of Seremban still remains calm and calculated. And if you could make that extra effort to pay this town a visit, you could be in for a surprise.
For starters, the architectural and historical buildings of Seremban are pretty interesting structures. If you noticed carefully, the buildings are mainly constructed with lots of buffaloes in mind! Yes, you heard me right. Buffaloes. You can find the animals represented in the Negeri Sembilan architecture designs with the pointy rooftops resembling that of the buffalo's horns. Some of the architectural designs are borrowed from the Minangkabau communities from West Sumatra, a community who based their design on the hardworking buffaloes. The curved roof is also built in this manner to effectively drain the rainwater away from the roof and channel air for good circulation around the house. If you want to see some of these buildings, the best bet would be the State Assembly Building and the Cultural Center of Seremban. Several hotels also use this form of architecture.
There are several interesting places to visit while in Seremban. You can check out the Seremban Animal Park for one of the most bizarre attraction? for herein lies the bigger ostrich farm in East Asia. The animal farm is located just 15 minutes out of Seremban. These huge flightless birds are available for patting and riding, if you are up to it (a small fee is required). If you are an adventurous person, you might want to try these ostrich meat and its egg. Of course, you may also purchase the ostrich feathers. Now, this much I can tell you. There are not many places in Malaysia that will allow you to fulfill all your senses - touch, eat, smell, hear, see and even "wear" it!
If getting too close to such big birds is not your idea of fun, then run along to the Seremban Lake Gardens. Located just opposite the Seremban State Mosque, this is definitely one of the best features left behind during the British ruling in Malaya many years ago. The Seremban State Mosque, which by itself is a unique structure, is one of those rare mosques that do not use domes and minarets in its architectural outlook. However, the Lake Gardens is a beautiful place with two small man-made lakes that is surrounded by really old trees towering towards the skies. Word has it that the trees are about a hundred years old. Best of all, the gardens have maintained its serenity, peace and recreational objectives all these years and to date, still provide lots of pleasures for many people and generations to come. It is also a perfect place for romantic interludes for many couples in Seremban. You may want to try it too?
So, if you are ever around Kuala Lumpur and heading towards Malacca, you should not give Seremban the miss. Do drop by for a bite of the wonderful siew pau, if possible. Give those beef noodles a go. Who knows? You may never find one as good as this elsewhere.