Nasi Lemak Kukus

What is THE quintessential Singaporean dish? Chicken rice? Bak Chor Mee? Laksa? Nasi Lemak?  Our unique location, pretty much in the middle of South East Asia, has meant we’re blessed with an abundance of food influences from around the region. This often begs the question of what is a truly Singaporean dish? I’m going to throw it out there and say that a truly Singaporean dish is one that has its origins in another land, possibly far away, but over the years locals have tweaked and tuned their cooking to develop unique flavours that are only found in Singapore.

Nasi Lemak is one of those dishes that undoubtedly has its solid routes in Malaysia, in fact, according to wikipedia Nasi Lemak is actually the national dish of Malaysia. Nasi Lemak itself is a simple dish of coconut rice with sambal and a number of accompaniments like fried anchovies, boiled egg, cucumber and peanuts. But that description doesn’t go nearly far enough to understanding just how good this truly simple dish can be. Or indeed just how good a stall selling Nasi Lemak can be.

Nasi Lemak Kukus perfectly epitomises the Singaporean way of taking the traditional and tweaking it with its own unique influence. The original location was in Upper Thomson but new MRT work meant a move to Selegie Road in December 2014. The space is the first pleasant surprise. The traditional shopfront is one of a few along this stretch that have fallen into some disrepair but maintain the wonderful characteristics of the best of Singaporean architecture. The winding staircase at the back is my favourite feature.

The kitchen is to the rear of the indoor section of the restaurant with open air windows that give good ventilation. Behind that is the outdoor seating area and possibly the most tranquil location in Singapore to eat a plate of Nasi Lemak. Another unique highlight is the graffiti tiles that customers are welcome to write their comments on.

The format of ordering is also unusual, you firstly grab a polystyrene plate and a banana leaf and help yourself to the rice. The rice is free flow and costs $1. I’m not a huge rice fan but man this rice is just delicious. The rice is steamed to cook it (rather than boiled) and once the rice is cooked the coconut milk and pandan leaf are added and it’s steamed a little more. The texture is so light and fluffy and the coconut is strong but not overpowering. It’s truly divine.

Next up choose your toppings. You can go for a standard chicken set, a fish set or choose from one of the homemade curries that are bubbling away on the stove. There are choices like prawn and potato curry, chicken rendang, beef rendang and egg curry. I have to mention the chicken in particular. I still haven’t brought Husband here but when he gets a bite of the ‘oh so crispy’ chicken he is going to be going back weekly for a fix. And the meat inside hasn’t dried out, it’s soft and succulent, and the subtle spicing of the chicken skin is absolutely addictive (the picture second from top gives you some idea as to the crispiness). A basic chicken set is $4.50. Of course you can add extras in and get to $6 quite easily but I’ve never walked out paying more than $6 and you can get a really filling and decent plateful of food.

There’s seating both indoors and outdoors and everyone cleans up after their meal. There are bins for the plates and food scraps and separate containers for cutlery. Everything is super well organised and clean and there are even sinks and taps for you to wash your hands after your meal. Note that Nasi Lemak Kukus is halal. They’re also a very community focussed shop. If you check out their Facebook page you’ll see posts about free meals for those down on their luck. What a nice thing to see in Singapore
Nasi Lemak Kukus
229 Selegie Road, Singapore
phone +65 8222 9517
Opening Hours: 12pm to 11pm. Closed Sundays

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Penilaianmu: MagBe