KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 — When you are at Rumah Makan Nasi Kampung in Cheras, you won't find a Michelin inspector poking around the spread of Malay dishes. Instead, this place is strictly for locals only.

Just like its name, they specialise in food that reflects the cooking in a Malay kampung.

Come on a Sunday for lunch and you will see an almost frightening seated and in a queue for food.

Just keep calm and grab a table. If there are no empty tables, consider sharing a table. Or do the Malaysian thing and stalk those who look like they're about to finish their food and leave the place.

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As the spread of about 50 dishes are laid out like a buffet line, there was a queue starting from when you scoop rice onto your plate.

Queues like that frighten me since I need to curate what I want on my plate properly. My FOMO (fear of missing out) is heightened since I have no idea what else is down the line.

Hence my plate always has an unreasonable proportion of proteins versus vegetables.

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Once you get the plate ready with your mountain of rice, you will be greeted with two gigantic woks filled with the gulai kawah (RM10 for a portion). Since all you see is gulai, one needs to "fish" inside for the goodies.

You will either get tender beef or chunks of mutton with potatoes.

Fish in the large woks for 'gulai kawah' where you discover beef or mutton with potatoes (left). Success is a bowl of tender beef and soft potatoes with your 'gulai kawah'
Fish in the large woks for 'gulai kawah' where you discover beef or mutton with potatoes (left). Success is a bowl of tender beef and soft potatoes with your 'gulai kawah'

Some prefer drenching their rice with the gulai. If you're fastidious in keeping your rice pristine and untouched by gravy, just ladle it into a separate bowl.

The curry is mildly spicy, which I prefer since I'm not a fan of a burned tongue. Despite its thin consistency, the flavours are fragrant, making it a good pairing with your plate of rice.

As the crowd continues to come and go, you will spot some trays on the counter are empty. The kitchen will cook up fresh items to replace those dishes that finish.

Depending on what time you get there, just find an empty table or share with others
Depending on what time you get there, just find an empty table or share with others

If you're lucky to see that when you're queueing, grab those items as it's piping hot from the kitchen. That is how I scored a freshly fried ayam goreng. I was rewarded with juicy meat and crispy skin.

Like a computer game, once you pass the gulai kawah, you get to the level where there are various deep fried items like fried fish and chicken. Some come with an appetising topping of chopped chillies and sliced onions.

Deep fried tilapia fish gets a flavour boost with an appetising chopped chillies and onions topping
Deep fried tilapia fish gets a flavour boost with an appetising chopped chillies and onions topping

Then, the next level unlocks various types of gulai with fish, chicken and beef. You can even indulge in crabs too. The gulai comes in various hues.

You can spot the masak lemak one with its bright sunshine yellow colour. A popular item is the siput sedut masak lemak. It wasn't available that time I was there but there was an egg version.

As you go down the line, there's an assortment of grilled fish wrapped in banana leaves. Select from various kerabu and all sorts of vegetables. You can see bitter gourd, eggplant and my all time favourite pajeri nenas.

Grilled fish wrapped in banana leaves and various 'kerabu' can be found here
Grilled fish wrapped in banana leaves and various 'kerabu' can be found here

Balance out all those tempting proteins with the assortment of 'ulam' with vegetables and herbs
Balance out all those tempting proteins with the assortment of 'ulam' with vegetables and herbs

At the end of the line, there's ulam with an assortment of fresh vegetables and herbs. There's also small pots filled with various sauces. Just spoon what you like on the food you select to enhance the taste whether it's budu or tempoyak. Hidden in a corner, there's even cucur at the end of line.

I spied chicken rice in a separate stall too. The desserts are in a separate area, where you scoop up your choice of pengat or bubur. There's also pre-packed mango with glutinous rice and fresh-cut fruits in cups.

Dessert is a choice of 'pengat' or 'bubur' that you scoop yourself
Dessert is a choice of 'pengat' or 'bubur' that you scoop yourself

Lunch for two people was RM30 with two drinks. I was greedy, filling my plate with all sorts of things. There was gulai kawah, fried chicken, fish, paru goreng, tempe and various vegetables. I wouldn't say prices here are the cheapest in town but the variety makes up for it.

Generally every item was well cooked with a simpler, homestyle taste. The food is also not overly spicy.

My plate is filled with proteins that I cannot resist like 'gulai ikan', 'paru goreng', fried chicken. There's also 'pajeri nenas', eggplant and 'tempe' too (left). Hidden in a corner was this tempting 'cucur' with a sauce (right)
My plate is filled with proteins that I cannot resist like 'gulai ikan', 'paru goreng', fried chicken. There's also 'pajeri nenas', eggplant and 'tempe' too (left). Hidden in a corner was this tempting 'cucur' with a sauce (right)

Drinks can take some time to arrive though as the kitchen is flooded with orders.

As they open in the morning, they offer roti canai. After 4.30pm, they switch to cooked food upon order.

The place is hidden from the road but Waze will get you there. It's right opposite the Brigade Headquarters Central Mosque PGA.

Find this place just off the road and next to a row of flats in Cheras
Find this place just off the road and next to a row of flats in Cheras

As the eatery is next to a row of flats, there is limited parking space. Since people eat and go quickly, cars are constantly moving out so patience is needed as they manoeuver out of the place.

In fact, we parked further up at the shophouses and walked a little to the place, rather than join the crowd of cars fighting for a spot.

Rumah Makan Nasi Kampung, Lot 7815, Taman Masria, 7 1/2 Miles Jalan Cheras, Cheras. Open daily: 8.30am to 12am. Tel:012-3913074. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/p/Rumah-Makan-Nasi-Kampung-Cheras-100063775013180/

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