Babas and Nyonyas, stop me if you know this one: What do you get when you cross a herb salad with rice? Any true-blue Peranakan will tell you the answer is nasi ulam. The combination of aromatic Asian herbs, rice and, sometimes, seafood, is what makes nasi ulam such a wonderful, cool dish for our Southeast Asian climate.
Found all over southern Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and here in Singapore, recipes for nasi ulam differ from location to location, family to family, but this Peranakan version was recommended to me by KF Seetoh, the founder of renowned food guide Makansutra.
Chendol Melaka at Soy Eu Tua Coffeeshop along Upper East Coast Road is run by the irrepressible Daisy Tan and her husband Colin Yam. Once the regional director of a shipping firm, this self-confessed “200 per cent” bibik is now wholly dedicated to preserving her Peranakan culture through her culinary delights, like delicious chendol, kueh-kueh and her signature dish, nasi ulam.
TASTE:Chendol Melaka is located at Soy Eu Tua Coffeeshop, 15 Upper East Coast Road, Singapore 455207.
It’s open 10am-5pm (Tuesdays to Fridays) and 9am-5pm (Saturdays and Sundays). Closed Mondays.
To “reserve” your nasi ulam, call Colin Yam at 9777 6471.
As a Southeast Asian staple, there are few things as comforting and versatile as rice. From biryani to economical “point-point” rice and nasi padang, as well as nasi goreng or yangzhou chao fan, I thought I was familiar with them all, until my Gold 905 Makan Kaki, batik fashion designer Oniatta Effendi, told me about two rice dishes I’d never heard of before.
The avid home cook and self-confessed rice-mad “nasi girl” said when she wanted something a little more extraordinary, she indulges in her favourite nasi jenganan and nasi rawon. Nasi what? A casual poll among friends and colleagues confirmed that these Javanese dishes are, indeed, little-known. Feeling slightly vindicated for my ignorance, I hurried over to Bedok Corner for a little rice re-education.
TASTE: Nasi Jenganan is only available on Sundays, Nasi Rawon available daily. SATAY SOLO
Stall 9, Bedok Corner Food Centre (opp. Bedok Army Camp)
1 Bedok Rd, S(469572)
Open: Tues – Sunday 7am – 10pm (Closed Mondays)
Tel: +65 97110116
Taufik fills us in on what else is in store this month for Chix Hot Chicken & also shares where likes to go for his favourite steak and Nasi Padang! Scroll down for descriptions, pictures and locations!
These sliders are arguably one of the BEST things on the menu! Huge, juicy pieces of boneless chicken, coated with a super crispy batter, sandwiched between two small, pillowy buns and slathered in their house-made tangy pink mayo. You can order the chicken in the level of spice you prefer and it packs a powerful flavour punch. So, so good!
Masterchef Singapore Guest Judge & Executive Chef of Alma by Juan Amador, Chef Haikal Johari used to work in Bangkok full time – his returns to Singapore occurred once in a while and only for a couple of days, so the one thing he craved was always Nasi Lemak. In particular, the popular Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak at Adam Road would fill his mind on the plane all the way home. Those in the know will recognise this stall for its illustrious patrons, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and even the Sultan of Brunei! Also, you can’t miss Selera Rasa’s uniquely-named sets inspired by the card game of Poker, like the Royal Flush & Full House!
Greetings, Makan Kakis! This week, we welcome a new foodie friend to our rolling panel of culinary personalities and she is someone you might remember from her Maxwell Market, Wok & Barrel or Ujong days – she is Mod-Sin Chef Shen Tan, who’s also Culinary Directory & creator of bespoke gastronomic experiences with Gastrogig.
She’s currently serving up a menu of her “greatest hit” dishes at Revolution Coffee over at Infinite Studios – in particular, her fantastic Nasi Lemak with decadent toppings! Do scroll all the way down for more.
In the mean time though, we’re talking about her first foray into cooking, childhood culinary memories, Grandma’s cooking, her approach to food, what her perfect meal would be (hint: it’s spiky, pungent and absolutely fruitiluscious!) and where this Nasi Lemak aficionado goes for her own Nasi Lemak fix (promise, it’s not her own kitchen – haha).
Click for Part 1 – we talk about her own Nasi Lemak and taking that leap from Events Management to Cooking.
Click for Part 2 – Chef Shen’s memories of Grandma’s cooking, her food philosophy & what her perfect meal would be.
Click for Part 3 – the Friends of Mitzo collaboration!
Ok, so we’ve established that Chef Shen is well-known for her Nasi Lemak and it’s no surprise she likes to eat Nasi Lemak too, but not necessarily her own! That’s because when it comes to Nasi Lemak, everyone has a different style, so there’s no real need for comparison. When the mood strikes for a super-comforting Nasi Lemak meal strikes, Chef Shen heads to one of her favourite places in Tanglin Halt. Located in a charming, retro coffeeshop, Maria’s Corner is a quaint little stall run by a cute Makcik, where you get rustic, good old home-style cooking. It’s so good, she sells out very out very quickly. You get a heap of her fragrant coconut rice, then you choose from the array of delicious dishes to pair with your rice. Chef Shen particularly likes these:
Urap – spicy wing bean salad with grated, toasted coconut with lime & beansprouts, all tossed with Tempeh chips.
Paru (beef lung)
Sambal Telur (egg)
Sambal Goreng – spicy-fried tau kwa, tempeh and veggies
Dollop Sambal Belachan all over and you have a satisfying, truly tasty meal!
TASTE: Maria’s Corner Nasi Lemak
Guan Kim Coffeeshop
47 Tanglin Halt Rd, Singapore 141047
Only open for breakfast & lunch, or till she sells out
CHEF SHEN’S NASI LEMAK
In the picture above, you see twice-steamed coconut rice that’s been seasoned with 8 different herbs and ingredients, crunchy Ikan Billis, fried egg and a sinfully crisp deep-fried pork chop. The 2 types of chilli takes thing over the top – one is fresh and tangy, the other is a super-umami coffee sambal! Also must try: her rich beef rendang! Also available, deep-fried chicken chop and chicken rendang.
Get Chef Shen’s Nasi Lemak here: REVOLUTION COFFEE
21 Media Circle, #01-03A, Singapore 138562
Tel: +65 67772110
Open Daily: 9am -6pm
Hello Makan Kakis! In recent weeks, our nation and its netizens have been all abuzz with opinions about MacDonald’s NASI LEMAK BURGERS, which, to the disappointment of many, sold out in 2 weeks. Personally, I think a nasi lemak burger should at least contain nasi (rice) so come with me as we follow the coconut-fragranced trail of one other worthy nasi lemak burger, that could fill that empty space left by said fast food restaurant! But if it’s the un-burgered, original form of Nasi Lemak you prefer though, then I have another recommendation for the purists.
Click the on the picture above to WATCH this latest video episode of Gold 905’s feel good food guide, in which I recommend two Nasi Lemak options – one hipster burger, one hearty tradition – on offer.
Click here to LISTEN to our aromatic on-air episode!
TRY THIS: With National Day on the horizon, a little tasty competition seems to have emerged amongst several makan places which have come up with their own versions of the new-fangled Nasi Lemak Burger. From the fray emerged one that stood out – in description, that is. I was delighted to hear that my Makan Guru KF Seetoh had persuaded the folks at HK St Old Chun Kee (Gluttons Bay branch) to bring back their Nasi Lemak Burger all this month of August. It sounded like an improvement on the fast food restaurant version, so I made it my mission to try it the very day it launched.
Caution: Sensory overload! Make no mistake, this is one dirty, decadent, minyak and lemak creation, featuring coconut rice mixed with otah (for extra umami and colour), shaped into “buns” using a ring form, then wok-fried till crispy and toasty brown on the outside, tender and fluffy on the inside.
These rice “buns” sandwich a breaded fish fillet, fried egg and a mellow-sweet smear of sambal scattered with crunchy ikan billis and peanuts. This Nasi Lemak Burger is delicious and definitely gives you all the taste and aroma of the rice dish. This is a novel re-imagining of a Singapore classic, with lots of punchy flavours and contrasting textures, but be warned though, you’ll probably find it hard to finish even one on your own.
It may be small in size, but this $7.50 Nasi Lemak Burger is hefty on your tastebuds and stomach. Bring a friend to share, or a takeaway container. If you’re looking for a uniquely Singaporean dish to feast on this National Day, you could do much worse than enjoying alfresco dining by Marina Bay, soaking in the views as you soak up the greasy goodness of the Nasi Lemak Burger here.
TASTE: HK St Old Chun Kee (Gluttons Bay Branch)
Makansutra Gluttons Bay
8 Raffles Avenue, #01-15H,
Esplanade Mall, Singapore 039802.
Open Daily 3pm – 1am.
OR THAT: If you’re thinking why go to the trouble of turning Nasi Lemak into burgers when you can have it the old-fashioned, traditional way, then you’ve got to try Nasi Lemak Kukus.
Kukus literally means “Steam” in Malay and this is the really old school, traditional way to cook the coconut rice. To save time and effort these days, most Nasi Lemak restaurants will just use a rice cooker to boil the rice and cook it. But steaming is what sets Nasi Lemak Kukus apart from others. A lot of care is taken to steam the rice, which means you get a more springy product, with a light coconut fragrance that permeates each and every grain. What you don’t get is an overpoweringly coconutty, sticky mush. This one has great texture that’s firm to the bite and beautifully flavoured with coconut milk, pandan leaves and salt. Honestly, it’s so good, you can eat the rice all on its own. Best of all, servings are unlimited!
Help yourself to as much of it from the large steamer they have set up at the buffet-style counter, along with the unlimited helpings of sambal tumis. Nasi Lemak Kukus has two types – a sweet and mild one and then there’s the “power” one – super spicy, but with just a touch of sweet to balance out the fire.
All-you-can-eat rice and sambal aside, another star item on their menu is the deep-fried chicken wing. Delicately seasoned with spices like turmeric that gives it its golden yellow hue, these are fried in small batches for maximum freshness and crispiness.
As an introduction to what’s on offer, try the Nasi Lemak Kukus standard meal set, which gets you unlimited rice and sambal, along with 1 chicken wing, 1 piece of egg omelet, 1 whole ikan kuning and a scoop of crunchy ikan billis and peanut mix. For just $4, this is one satisfying, value-for-money meal.
But with so many other dishes on display, you’ll be hard-pressed to resist naughty tidbits like the super-tasty deep-fried chicken skin and otah-otah.
You can also get other add-ons from their special pots bubbling away on burners, including lip-smackingly lemak sayur lodeh…
…savoury-sweet beef paru (lung) and the rich, tender mutton rendang.
Depending on your mood, wash down your hearty meal with a strong and sweet Vietnamese drip coffee, or a freshly squeezed home-made calamansi lime drink.
Nasi Lemak Kukus is a great stop for a quick lunch at its sun-drenched premises, but also pretty special at night in their courtyard complete with twinkling lights, hanging wall creepers and a gorgeous distressed spiral staircase.
What you get here is unpretentious quality food, friendly staff and a relaxed self-serve atmosphere in a charming old Selegie shophouse, its interiors charmingly adorned with the colourful scribbles and artwork of customers (a lot of who are Lasalle students). TASTE: Nasi Lemak Kukus
229 Selegie Road, Singapore 188344
Open Monday – Saturday 12pm – 10.30pm. Closed Sunday.
Tel: 8222-9517/ 91443764
SEE: Oniatta Effendi, our gregarious foodie friend, gets even more animated when she talks about Nasi Padang because she is, as we have previously discovered, a self-confessed “Nasi Girl” – she has to have rice with every meal, including breakfast! As early as 7am, Oniatta can be found up and ready for a steaming hot plate of Nasi Padang from her favourite place in Singapore. Warong Pariaman has a very special place in her heart because this is where she met her husband Nizam and its also her favourite because of the nostalgia factor – shes been eating there with her family since she was a young child.
Warong Nasi Pariaman has its beginning back in 1948 as a family-run corner coffeeshop at Kandahar Street. For the uninitaited, Nasi Padang hails from West Sumatra in Indonesdia and Pariaman is the name of a city there. Essentially, you get hot, fluffy white rice that is paired with a variety of dishes, sides and condiments. If you enjoy rich flavours of coconut, chilli, lime, lemongrass and lengkuas (galangal), then you’ll love Nasi Padang!
Oniatta recommends their signature dish of Ayam Bakar (see above: barbequed chicken in a mild coconut-spiced gravy). She calls this one of their “hard core” dishes, along with Rendang Daging (beef (simmered in chilli, spices and coconut milk), Ikan Bakar (charcoal-grilled fish marinated in tamarind sauce, slathered in a sweet black soya sauce with fresh onion, green chilli and lime) and Sambal Goreng (fried long beans, beancurd & tempeh), but you’ll probably have to wait till about 10am for these to be ready for eating!
But early-riser Oniatta has simple tastes, when she gets there at 7.30/8am she is very satisfied with their delicious Ayam Gulai as well as Sotong.
If you’re wondering, Gulai is a rich and spicy Indonesian curry-like sauce paired with poultry, beef, mutton, offal, & seafood, as well as fruits and vegetables unripe jackfruit & cassava leaves. Gulai is packed with spices like coriander, black pepper, galangal, ginger, chilli pepper, shallot, garlic, fennel, lemongrass, cinnamon, caraway and turmeric (which gives it its vivid, deep yellow colour), all of which are ground into a paste and cooked in coconut milk with the meats, seafood or veggies. Piled on a heaping plate of hot rice, washed down with a bracing cup of teh, this is a breakfast that hits the spot for her!
Breakfast not your thing? No worries! Warong Pariaman is open all day for lunch and dinner too. With such a wide and varied menu, youll be spoilt for choice from one of Singapores oldest Nasi Padang institutions! TASTE: WARONG PARIAMAN
736/738 North Bridge Road Singapore 198704 (Behind Sultan Mosque)
Open Daily: 7:30am – 8:00pm
Tel:+65 62922374 / +65 62925958