This week, our foodie friend and cook-performer in Singapore Festival of the Arts’ forthcoming O.P.E.N. KITCHENS, Asha Adnan, introduces us to a retro restaurant that’s a throwback to the 70s/ 80s. Mukmin Restaurant features several established stalls serving up really delicious home comforts. Case in point, Kacang Pool, which Asha describes as a Malay take on hummus. Asha loves the texture and taste of this dish, which comes with chopped green chillies, red onion and a fried egg on top. Better yet, you can ask for a runny centre (Asha recommends you do) and sop up all the eggy, kacang goodness with the toasted French bread served on the side!
If you’re early enough and lucky enough to be there on Fridays, be sure to get in line to grab the freshly fried Goreng Pisang (batter-fried banana) – sweet, savoury and so irresistible – BEFORE 2pm. They sell out really quickly, a testament to how good they are! And don’t forget to ask for the crumbs – you know, those crunchy bits of excess batter? Other must-tries at Mukmin include their Lontong Goreng, Mee Soto & Laksa. It’s really a restaurant that has everything tasty under one roof!
TASTE: MUKMIN RESTAURANT
Block 129 Bedok North Street 2, #01-26, Singapore 460129
Open Daily: 7am – 10pm
This week, what a special treat! Fresh off the presses of eating guide Makansutra 2017, our Guru of Gluttony KF Seetoh reveals a recent gem of a discovery. This is a place recommended by a friend who also introduced him to the famed JB Ah Meng, so you better believe this is gonna be good!
Definitely a bit of a secret, off-the-beaten-track place, you’d never guess this simple, average, neighbourhood mama shop/ convenience/ provision shop/ minimart would be dishing out yummy old-fashioned local breakfast delights on a daily basis. You know the kind of convenience store in the void deck of your flat? This is what we’re talking about! And early every morning, you’ll see a rack full of hot, home-cooked packets of Nasi Lemak for sale at this Pasir Ris void deck. The food is prepared by someone who lives nearby and brought in fresh daily. The lemak is not too heavy, rice lightly fragranced with coconut and a little salt, so it doesn’t overpower the delicious fried fish (Ikan Kuning). This old-school delight also includes a little packet of ikan billis & kacang, as well as a fried egg on the side with a slice of cucumber for fresh crunch. Seriously, get there early to get it hot and when you unwrap the banana leaf, the smell of the Nasi Lemak will transport you! So good, so simple, so unadulterated.
But that’s not all, grab a packet of their Nasi Sambal Goreng and some Mee Siam too. In particular, Seetoh loved the latter. The Mee Siam isn’t much to look at, sitting in its plastic container, but he swears the moment he took that first bite with a squeeze of lime, he had a “Ratatouille” moment. 😀 You know in the movie where the food reviewer gets swept back to a moment in his past and has the most sublime taste experience (actually, watch it here – it’s such an evocative scene!)? Same experience for Seetoh – it took him right back to his SJI days, in his white shirt and shorts, tie double-pinned so nobody could flick it, standing on the field waiting to play football with his friends before heading across to the sarabat stall for Mee Siam.The flavour of the Pasir Ris Mee Siam gave him those memories and more! Its a distinctively nostalgic taste that he’s been searching for that he hasn’t been able to find till now.
Now you know why it’s sold out usually by 10.30am and people in cars line up to swing by and pick up breakfast on the way into the city for work! So if you’re hankering after a taste of the past, you’ve got to try these home-cooked delights (apparently, the minimart gets their supply from a lady who lives in the area and has her own home kitchen catering business). Read more about it on page 156 of Makansutra 2017, or online here.
Since this was published, we have returned a couple of times and discovered that the supplier of the nasi lemak to this minimart has changed and it is no longer the same one described by Seetoh. If you happen to go for the nasi lemak now, be warned, it’s gonna be a generic packet mass-produced by a factory that supplies many places.
There’s been crazy-enthusiastic response to this week’s makan recommendation – thanks for sharing it on your FB and telling your friends! But we did get a call from the lady who runs the mini mart because of the sheer number of people turning up for the home-cooked breakfast delights. She’s completely overwhelmed, so go easy on her, ok?
Just to clarify, she caters the food to sell, she does not prepare it herself!
Also, the food we mention in this post may not always be available, so visit at your own peril! Try your luck, you may get the Nasi Lemak or some other form of packet rice.
Seetoh was lucky enough to get a taste of all 3, but apparently, the Mee Siam may not be available currently.
TASTE: Pasir Ris Mini Mart
Block 773 Pasir Ris St 71, #01-380
Hot food available daily 7.30am-12noon (but usually sells out by 10.30am!)
Want to listen to this week’s episode? Click here!
SEE: After much persuasion, our Makan Kaki Juwanda Hassim (The Fabulous Baker Boy) finally revealed his favourite stall for Lontong & Nasi Sambal Goreng. But I had to really dig it out of him! You know when there’s that one place you love and prefer to keep to yourself because it’s just so good? This is it for Juwanda. Never have I heard such passion, pride and devotion to these traditional Malay dishes – Juwanda’s love for the food served at this stall in ABC Brickworks Food Centre is unparalleled. Here’s why: The lady who cooks and serves does it just like Mum – no holds barred, with the same love, care, attention to detail and best of all, with a big smile.
Let’s start with her Lontong – you can have it as Lontong Kering, which is dry, or with the gravy. Definitely go with the gravy version because you don’t want to miss out on its full-on flavour- all the better to soak into the tender, home-made lontong (rice cakes). It’s just the right consistency – thick, rich, redolent with spices with that perfect balance of Serai, Ginger, and all the the other ingredients. Together with veggies, heaps and heaps of Serunding (spicy fried coconut) and the sambal which has been cooked slowly for hours over a fire, this dish is absolutely irresistible. Juwanda wonders why Lotong isn’t a Malay National dish! It’s so good, that in his words, “it makes you want to cry, because you long for these flavours, because you don’t find it very often anymore.”
Next, move on to the Nasi Sambal Goreng. First and foremost, the rice is of really high quality. Be sure to order it either with sambal sotong (squid) or ayam goreng (fried chicken). Again, both have full-on flavour and are completely delicious. It’s these dishes he feels are more than worth preserving and documenting and it’s these dishes that make him so very proud of his Malay cuisine. So hurry, get in line and grab your Lontong & Nasi Sambal Goreng to-go or eat there! You’ll find Nusa & Tara in the 3rd section (halal) of ABC Market, at the end, just opposite the Kueh Moi stall.
Nusa & Tara
ABC Brickworks Food Centre
Blk 6 Jalan Bukit Merah
Open: 5.30am – 1.30pm