Out of focus…

My girl was watching TV that morning and there was a food show featuring the so-called best nasi lemak in the country. Some local chefs and celebrities were asked to name their favourites and the reason for their choices.

I was quite put off by how out of focus they were when I saw how they picked one over the other because of the fried chicken or the sambal sotong and so on and so forth. Wait a minute! Are they comparing the nasi lemak or the side dishes? It sure wasn’t the battle of the fried chicken or the sambal sotong or whatever – they were asked to pick the best nasi lemak, not what comes by the side.

Shouldn’t they be talking about the rice? How perfectly it was cooked – not dry and hard, not too soft and soggy and how one can still see the individual grains, how rich it is in santan (coconut milk), making it truly deserving of the name, nasi lemak…and how fragrant it is with the lovely scent of the pandan leaves.

There was this one time when I was staying at the Cititel, Penang, buffet breakfast inclusive and no, I never bothered to try the nasi lemak until one morning, when I was helping myself to the condiments for the porridge, somebody opened the huge cauldron at the nasi lemak section right beside me and the fragrance that came out of it simply swept me off my feet – I had nasi lemak every morning after that for the rest of my stay there.

In 2013, I had a similar experience here but the guy disappeared for a long time. When he came back in 2017, his nasi lemak was still very good but lately, it had been going downhill all the way. The guy kept complaining about the increasing prices of coconut and santan – I told him to just increase the prices, no need to shortchange the customers on the taste but it had fallen on deaf ears. That is why I don’t bother to drop by and eat or buy home to enjoy that frequently anymore these days.

Perhaps another thing that they must talk about as well would be the sambal. That special sambal that goes with a plate of nasi lemak is in a class of its own – it has its own taste, a little bit salty and a little bit sweet and of course, some may prefer it more spicy than others. It does not matter if there is sotong (squid) or kerang (cockles) or petai (stink beans) in the sambal but that unmistakable nasi lemak sambal taste must be there.

Well, it so happened that I had a plate of nasi lemak

…from this stall…

here that morning.

I heard that it is very popular among the locals so for a while now I had been wanting to give it a try. However, I was always too early, around 7.00 a.m. and the rice was not ready yet. That morning, I happened to be there after 8 so yes, the nasi lemak was available. I promptly placed my order and sat down at a table, waiting to be served.

When it came, I tried the rice first. No, it was not lemak and had none of the fragrance I was hoping to find. The sambal was salty, not sweet – not quite like what a nasi lemak sambal should taste like but no, I would not write it off completely – it was all right…in a way.

The daging masak hitam (black cooked beef)…

…was very nice – you can order this to be served with your nasi lemak here for RM8.00. They did tell me how much a “normal” plate would cost but I was not paying much attention. LOL!!! Needless to say, when you eat the rice with this, it will taste nice – even plain steamed rice will taste nice when eaten with this daging masak hitam so of course, this cannot be the deciding factor when one is choosing the best nasi lemak in one’s opinion.

The egg was perfectly done, fried the traditional way in a wok…

…with the yolk still runny and they were very generous with the kacang (peanuts). Unfortunately, there was no sign of any fried ikan bilis (dried anchovies), just some bits of salted fish…

Perhaps it is now way too expensive so they have decided to do away with it here.

Yes, I did enjoy my order that morning but if I were asked to name the best nasi lemak in town, I’m afraid it would not make it into my list but to give credit where credit is due, I would say it was nicer than the one I had here a few days earlier.

In the meantime, the search continues…

SIN KIAW CAFE (2.291287, 111.826611) is located along Ramin Way, the first shop on your right as you turn in from Jalan Kampung Nyabor, right behind the petrol station located at the bend.