When a TikTok user from a neighbouring country lamented about the too-small amount of sambal chilli served with her plate of nasi lemak here in Singapore, netizens were divided in their opinion. Some – Singaporeans included – agreed with her, while others argued that the eatery should not be used as a yardstick, as there were plenty of other nasi lemak eateries on the island that were more generous with their sambal.
Whether you’re a sambal fiend or think that the condiment is unimportant to the dish, there’s no arguing that we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to the varieties of nasi lemak you can find in Singapore. Traditionalists will go for the banana-leaf wrapped coconut rice that comes with fried anchovies, a fried fish, sliced cucumbers and sambal chilli, while those after modern intepretations would be drawn to the new-fangled side dishes and toppings that include choices like salted egg chicken, or even lobster.
From hawker stalls that have since expanded to chain stores across the island, to chic upmarket restaurants, here are six places to savour your plate of coconut rice – with or without sambal.
Wang Nasi Lemak Kukus by Heavenly Wang
Known for their traditional toasts, soft-boiled eggs, and local coffee they have been serving since 1953, did you know that Heavenly Wang Singapore also does nasi lemak sets? Their basic nasi lemak set includes a hard-boiled egg, sambal, fried chicken wings and otah, and a choice of three flavoured rice types – nasi kuning (tumeric rice), nasi kerabu (butterfly pea flower rice), and nasi ulam (rice with herbs).
Additionally, the brand also serves modern plates of nasi lemak where the chicken is cooked differently. The Ayam Lemak Set features a tender curry chicken leg and coconut rice, the Ayam Goreng Kremes Set features a crispy, spice-marinated chicken leg and herb rice, while the Ayam Bakar set has a grilled chicken leg drizzled with kecap manis sauce and served with tumeric rice.
SAFRA members enjoy 10% off a la carte purchases, and 5% more bonus value when they top up their WANG Loyalty Card. For more info, go to safra.sg/amenities-offerings/heavenly-wang
Heavenly Wang is at SAFRA Mt Faber and SAFRA Punggol
Ponggol Nasi Lemak
Established in 1979, this family business started by delivering traditional pre-packed nasi lemak to hawker centres and distributors around Singapore. Today, the brand comprises four speciality stores in Kovan, Tanjong Katong, Jalan Besar, and Capitol Piazza. Additional dishes not commonly found at other nasi lemak stores include handmade fish cake, cuttlefish balls, homemade achar in special sauce, spicy shrimp floss, curry vegetables, sauteed lady’s fingers, and stir-fried brinjal. Don’t miss getting a portion of the ngoh hiang, a deep-fried meat roll in beancurd skin.
Various locations at Jalan Besar, Upper Serangoon Road, Tanjong Katong Road and Capitol Piazza
This ubiquitous kiosk in shopping centres was founded in 2015, when one of the founders of Kiosks Collective – a loyal customer of the Adam Road Nasi Lemak by Selera Rasa – reached out to award-winning store owner Abdul Malik Hassan. The partnership has since grown to 43 outlets islandwide. All of Crave’s nasi lemak sets include a fried egg, bergedil (fried potato patty) ikan bilis, fragrant basmati rice, a dollop of sambal chilli, cucumber slices, and a protein. Choices include chicken otah meatloaf, fish fillet, chicken wing, chicken cutlet, and sambal cuttlefish. There are also seasonal specials including stewed beef curry, balado selar fish, and chicken karaage.
Various locations including Junction 8, Parkway Parade, Paya Lebar Square and Tiong Bahru Plaza
Boon Lay Power Nasi Lemak
Arguably the most popular store at Boon Lay Food Village with snaking queues at mealtimes, this supper gem opens until the wee hours of the morning. They keep their menu relatively simple. All sets come with the regular trimmings – cucumber slices, peanuts, ikan bilis, a fried egg and robust sambal – and a choice of protein such as chicken wing, fish, and otah. There’s even paru (fried beef lungs) on the menu, something not commonly found elsewhere, while optional add-ons include sambal sotong, bergedil and beef rendang.
Various locations at Boon Lay Place Food Village, Novena Square 2 and Causeway Point
The Coconut Club
The Coconut Club burst onto the local food scene in 2016, making headlines with their $12.80 plate of nasi lemak at its Ann Siang Hill outlet. The eatery has now evolved from a place that specialises in nasi lemak, to a three-storey shophouse in Beach Road under The Lo & Behold Group serving communal local and regional dishes.
Recommendations include the Gohu Ikan, a raw tuna salad commonly found in East Indonesia; Percik Kambing, marinated Australian lamb short ribs grilled over charcoal; and the indulgent Ketam Masak Lemak Cili Api, or crab curry. Save dessert space for the acclaimed chendol and nonya kueh, or level up your experience with cocktails like pandan-infused The Coconut Club Mai Tai, or the sweet-smoky Pineapple Old Fashioned made with Scotch whisky and Laphroaig 10.
269 Beach Road, Singapore 199546
Located in Golden Mile Food Centre, this hawker stall reinvents the classic dish by giving it its own hipster spin. One of their most popular dishes is the Nasi Lemak Chicken Cutlet with Salted Egg Sauce, comprising basmati rice, ikan bilis, peanuts, a salad of quail eggs and greens, and a crispy fried chicken cutlet slathered in salted egg yolk sauce. Other fancier – and pricier – proteins at Adimann’s include crab, fish (specifically salmon and pomfret), and lobster. The Muslim-owned stall also sells fried rice dishes, as well as chicken rice dishes with various sauces – sambal, salted egg yolk, or black pepper.
505 Beach Road Golden Mile Food Centre, B1-12, Singapore 199583
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