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.

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

9 thoughts on “Out of focus…”

  1. It has been a long time since you start searching for a nice plate of nasi lemak that live up to your standard. Sadly, till this day the search is still on going. I am not into nasi lemak much but the nasi lemak with daging masak hitam looks really good. The other day I bought a tub of Liza’s masak hitam paste. Yet to cook.

    I’ve not cooked masak hitam at home for a long time now as the ladies are not fond of it. Last time, it was so hard to buy Lisa’s masak hitam as according to one lady at one of the Malay food shops, everyone used it – so convenient, no need to cook from scratch. Dunno if it is still as nice or not.
    Yes, so far, the nasi lemak that I’ve had has been disappointing – even the very nice one is not so nice anymore as time passes by. This one in today’s post is Chinese-owned…and the not-so-nice one I tried the other day too, the one at the or chian place. There is another one, also Chinese-owned – I shall go and try that one soon.

  2. Yes, I have searching high and low for Liza’s masak hitam paste for a long time. I thought they didn’t make them anymore so I give up hope. The other I went to the Supermarket where I used to do my grocery shopping and chance upon them. So quickly grab a tub. Yet to cook… 😊😊

    Yes, here too! I wonder why the major shops and supermarkets do not stock up on Lisa’s products…especially the very popular masak hitam. Eventually, I found a small shop here, crowded with all kinds of stuff, that sells them but there may be all the rest and the masak hitam is unavailable, no stock! Good luck with yours – hope it is still as nice as before.

  3. Yes, nasi lemak is my favourite breakfast. I also like to try the nasi lemak section when I stay in local hotels.

    Hope you found your prefect nasi lemak. Here, also the same. Some rice is nice and fragrant, but others are so so. Other is sambal is good but rice is hard and tasteless. Etc. Not to mention the not so crispy anchovies and peanuts. I haven’t been buying nasi lemak bungkus for quite sometime now. Weekdays, eat at home, and on weekends, follow hubby’s preference.

    Last time, when the nasi lemak at Bandong Walk was so good, I would not have any second thoughts. Every time I wanted to enjoy nasi lemak, I would go straight there for theirs. These days. I find it quite mediocre, some are pretty much like that too – it does not stand out anymore. That is why I am going round trying all the rest – who knows I may find another really good one here that is truly worth enjoying!

  4. I don’t know since when fried chicken become a standard must have side dish in nasi lemak.
    I do enjoy it if they use spicy batter to deep fry the chicken.
    But like I said before, the rice and sambal are the most important items.

    I had some Indonesian nasi lemak just some weeks ago, it was horrible. Should try the real ones in Indonesia next time. Nasi Padang is my all time favourite Indonesian food.

    1. That is nasi uduk, the Indonesian nasi lemak.
      They took it off their menu at that Indian/Indonesian restaurant that we frequent here
      because they said they had to cook the rice ahead of time
      and if nobody ordered it that day, they had to throw it all away. Very wasteful.
      I love nasi padang, enjoyed it so much when I was in Singapore, 1973 – my favourite was at Rendezvous, Bras Basah Road.

      These days, they have a whole lot of choices to go with their nasi lemak,
      20-30 dishes, so many you will not know which to choose.
      There is a very popular one in KL, everyone says it is the best
      and I asked some people who went there and they said, no, the rice is not lemak
      but the dishes are simply out of this world, so very nice.
      Totally out of focus – I would not qualify it is THE BEST nasi lemak then!!!

  5. I used to enjoy nasi lemak a lot but now I am cutting down on nasi lemak especially for breakfast. Everything is expensive now. Sighhhh…

    I just found one that is quite nice and inexpensive. Blogpost on that coming up real soon!

  6. I agree with you – the rice must be the highlight then comes the sambal. All other accompaniments are secondary and to be judged as a separate category as you suggested. These days you can even have sausage with nasi lemak LOL!

    You should watch Joanne Kam Po Po making fun of nasi lemak in Singapore – there’s sausage, fish fillet and so on all arranged so neatly – typical Singapore style, so disciplined. LOL!!!

  7. Ha, ha, yes! They should have picked you to name your faves. That is a list I would follow.

    Indeed they should. Honestly, did they know what they were talking about?

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at sibutuapui@yahoo.com

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