A gem of a ‘nasi kandar’ restaurant in Kampung Melayu

Nasi kandar Kampung Melayu is known for its delicious squid and flavourful curries. – Pictures by K.E. Ooi
Nasi kandar Kampung Melayu is known for its delicious squid and flavourful curries. – Pictures by K.E. Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, Aug 6 — Back in the 1970s, a small stall selling simple nasi kandar fare was set up in front of a coffee shop in Kampung Melayu.

Back then, the owner, Abdul Razak, who had arrived from Sri Lanka, had learnt the recipes for the curries from a friend.

Today, the stall has taken over the coffee shop and since it was always generally called the Kampung Melayu Nasi Kandar, it has retained the name.

The best way to enjoy a plate of nasi kandar is to load up on the gravy
The best way to enjoy a plate of nasi kandar is to load up on the gravy

Now, Abdul Razak’s son, Nasir, 60, has taken over the business and his wife Zainab Mohd Eusoff helps manage the coffee shop.

“This used to be a Chinese coffee shop and my father-in-law used to have a small stall in front... there was another stall selling mee goreng too,” Zainab said.

Several years back, they decided to buy over the coffee shop and turn it into a nasi kandar restaurant.

As they open only for breakfast and lunch, the restaurant is always packed and there is always a long queue of people waiting to choose their nasi kandar fixings.

The Kampung Melayu nasi kandar
The Kampung Melayu nasi kandar

“In all these 40 years, I am proud to say that we have maintained our quality to be as similar as my father-in-law’s recipes,” Zainab said.

She said they do not use manufactured curry pastes as all ingredients are made from scratch to be able to maintain the quality.

“We grind our own curry paste and use quality spices,” she said.

One of the popular dishes...daging masak merah
One of the popular dishes...daging masak merah

The other ingredients such as squid, beef and chicken are procured from the same local suppliers.

“We make sure our squid is fresh and our supplier is always able to meet our orders even if suddenly we have to cater an event.

“The beef is also ordered from a local supplier and from local farms because we don’t want to sell imported beef which is not as fresh,” she said.

The different pots of curries and dishes at the nasi kandar Kampung Melayu
The different pots of curries and dishes at the nasi kandar Kampung Melayu

The restaurant has over 15 different types of dishes including chicken, squid, fish, beef and vegetables.

“Our bestsellers are our daging masak merah, ayam ros and sotong,” she said.

About five years ago, the restaurant opened a branch at a food court in Farlim to serve dinner.

“All dishes are cooked by my sister-in-law so it’s the same quality, just that we open here for breakfast and lunch and at the astaka, the stall is open for dinner,” she said.

The Kampung Melayu nasi kandar also has a roti canai stall
The Kampung Melayu nasi kandar also has a roti canai stall

Though the restaurant is mostly known by the locals, a growing number of visitors from other states have come to know the place. However, Zainab said they don’t have any intention to expand and open more branches elsewhere.

“It is hard enough to maintain the quality of our food for this and our night branch so let’s keep it at this for now,” she said.

Nasi Kandar Kampung Melayu

Block A1-29-31, Kampung Melayu, Air Itam, Penang

Tel: 019-575 5877 (Nasir),

012-583 9771 (Zainab)

Time: 6am-1pm

Cawangan Farlim

Desa Mawar Food (Court 3288)

Tel: 012-468 3081 (Latiff)

Time: 4.30pm-10pm

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