I had a craving for nasi lemak and decided to try out this place which is not in the usual malls. Located along a row of shops that serves quite a few types of Malaysian food, I decided that I would make another visit for the other foods that were found here.
The place says that its nasi lemak is steamed. One wonders why the emphasis on this when usually rice is steamed and even when it is coconut rice, it is also steamed, isn’t it? Not quite. Rice that is cooked in a rice cooker is boiled, not steamed. The rice here is steamed, not boiled. Hence, the emphasis on the word, ‘kukus’. This method of cooking is far more tedious but results in rice that is usually perfectly cooked and fragrant and this is evident in the taste of the rice.
The place is a coffeeshop, in the middle of a row of shops that range from food shops to car tyre repairs. There is a burger grill that fronts the shop and in a way, resembles a ‘Ramly burger’ kind of setting. Ramly burger is hawker-type burger in Malaysia, where burgers are grilled and sold with onions and sufficient dollops of chilli sauce. While that was food that I loved growing up, I do not seem to have the same fondness for it now. I find that the meat is too processed. I am sure that I have also been influenced greatly by western fastfood outlets which serve better meat in their beef patties, though not necessarily better taste, not that I patronize them that often. But anyway, I digress.
The place is not air-conditioned, which is fine. One helps himself or herself to the rice and food portions and pays accordingly. I ordered sweet and sour fish, the smallest drumstick which turned out to be rather large, otah and peanuts. I almost fainted when the total amounted to $7.70! I also ordered their homemade lime juice and there was so much sediment at the bottom of the glass that I was not sure if it was from the limes or something else. It did taste fine, however.
What I really liked was the rice, homemade otah and peanuts. Of the three, the otah was seriously good — you could taste the fish in it! The lime juice was fine too. I could have done without the other two dishes. Rice refill was free so if one loves coconut rice, that would have been a bargain. And yes, sufficient sambal sauces — both the sweet and spicy versions are available — to go with the rice!
What I did not like was the strong fan blowing in my face and food. That really ruined the meal for me as I like my rice hot or at least warm. With the fan blowing at me, whatever heat there was in the rice was blown away. There is very little ambience about this place. It is spartan with names scribbled and somewhat set in the cement walls in some parts of the walls and an odd picture or two hanging off the walls. The seats against the wall actually double up as storage for the extra ingredients that they need to store, which are properly sealed, and a good idea actually. I did wonder how they would be able to access the stuff when there are customers in the shop though they may do so prior to and after hours. But people come here for the food and not the decor and in some sense, it even has a ‘kampung’ — out of town — feel and one can forget that one is actually still in Singapore, which can be a good thing.
For those who are keen to check out this place, tally your total for your food BEFORE you load up your plate so you don’t get a shock when the cashier rings up the bill, and find a place that is not so near a fan!
Nasi Lemak Kukus, 908 Upper Thomson Road, Singapore. Tel: 82229517.