It’s Singapore’s birthday month and our nation has been abuzz with talk about a quintessentially local hawker delight — burgers! Nasi lemak burgers, that is. McDonald’s version sold out in two weeks, much to the disappointment of many. Join me in this episode of Gold 905’s feel good food guide, with two nasi lemak options: a hipster burger rendition and a sedap traditional one.
1. Try This: Nasi Lemak Burger, $7.50, HK St Old Chun Kee (Gluttons Bay Branch)
I was delighted to hear that my Makan Kaki KF Seetoh had persuaded the folks at HK St Old Chun Kee (Gluttons Bay branch) to bring back their Nasi Lemak Burger for the month of August. It sounded like an improvement on the fast food restaurant version, so I made it my mission to try it on the day it launched. This is one dirty, decadent and lemak creation! It features coconut rice blended with otah for extra umami and colour, which is then shaped into “buns” and fried till crunchy and brown on the outside, yet tender on the inside. These rice “buns” sandwich a breaded fish fillet, fried egg and a smear of sweet, mellow sambal scattered with crunchy ikan billis and peanuts. It’s delicious and boasts lots of punchy flavours and contrasting textures — definitely reminiscent of the taste and aroma of the original rice dish. But be warned you’ll probably find it hard to finish even one of these babies on your own — it’s pretty heavy on the gut despite its deceptively small size.
#01-15H Makansutra Gluttons Bay, 8 Raffles Ave, Esplanade Mall, S039802. Open daily 3pm – 1am.
2. Or That: Nasi Lemak Kukus, $4
Kukus means “steam” in Malay and this is the old-school method of cooking coconut rice. To save time these days, most nasi lemak restaurants just use a rice cooker to boil the grains. And this is what sets Nasi Lemak Kukus’ version — served in a charming old Selegie shophouse — apart from the rest. A lot of care is taken to steam its rice for a more al dente product that's permeated with the flavours of coconut and pandan. It’s so good, you can eat the rice on its own. Best of all, servings are unlimited! Help yourself to as much of it from the large steamer at the buffet-style counter, along with unlimited helpings of sambal. There are two types of the latter: a sweet and mild one and a “power” super spicy one. Another star item on the menu is the deep-fried chicken wing. Delicately seasoned with spices like turmeric that gives it its golden hue, it’s fried in small batches for maximum freshness and crispiness. Try the Nasi Lemak Kukus standard meal set, which gets you one chicken wing, an omelette, fried fish, a scoop of crunchy ikan bilis with peanuts and free-flow rice with sambal. It’s a satisfying, value-for-money meal. But you’ll find it hard to resist the many other dishes on display, like the super tasty deep-fried chicken skin and otah. Or the lemak sayur lodeh and rich, tender mutton rendang.
229 Selegie Rd, S188344. Tel: 8222-9517/ 9144-3764. Open daily except Sun. Mon – Saturday noon – 10.30pm.
Denise Tan hosts The Lunchtime Jukebox on Gold 905. Makan Kakis is her weekly on-air good food guide, where her panel of culinary personalities takes you on adventures in glorious gluttony. Tune in to Gold 905 for new episodes every Thursday, from 11am.