KUALA LUMMPUR, Nov 14 — Naming the best nasi lemak can be a touchy subject. Considered the national dish of the country, every Malaysian and even non-Malaysian has an opinion on where the most delicious one can be found.
Undeniably, deciding on the best very much depends on personal preference, though there are a few standouts in the Klang Valley.
If you don’t already know, some are conveniently a stroll away from LRT/MRT stops!
There are two “legendary” ones in Kampung Baru — Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa and Nasi Lemak Wanjor — and they’re both located on Jalan Raja Muda Musa, a mere 80 metres from the LRT station. Personally, I prefer the latter though both are at best average.
But the plus point is that Kampung Baru provides an atmospheric feel of village life right in downtown KL.
It’s the perfect place, in fact, for your tourist friends since it has a thriving local food scene and the weekend night market can be an exhilarating experience. There is a good mix of Thai and Chinese restaurants in Kampung Baru though undeniably, Malay food is king here.
The basics for Nasi Lemak Wanjor is fluffy rice, which is sufficiently aromatic, served with roasted peanuts and anchovies. The sambal, like many others, is on the sweet side. While the beef rendang and paru (cow’s lung) are recommended, I personally love the fried tempeh.
The nasi lemak in both places are available from morning to lunch with breaks before continuing for dinner.
Meanwhile, nasi lemak and most of your local comfort food including Nyonya laksa, mee goreng, fried kuey teow and even kuih are available the whole day and in air conditioned comfort at Ali Muthu and Ah Hock (AMAH), just a skip away from the Pasar Seni LRT.
A bonus for this modern kopitiam would be the interior which evokes a nostalgic sentiment with its paint-chipped walls and retro furnishings. Its nasi lemak has always been compared with another famous one within the Klang Valley but I’m a fan of AMAH’s version.
The rice is light, the sambal has just the right balance of sweet and savoury and the fried chicken crispy and juicy; there is little to fault really!
When the cravings for a good Chinese style nasi lemak with thick chicken curry hits, I head to Ho Li Chow.
This non-halal outlet offers homely and comfort food of yesterday. The health-conscious will be happy to know that there is no MSG added. There are many delicious options on the menu, but for the sake of this article I’ll stick to the nasi lemak which comes with chicken curry or beef Notedendeng. I love options.
Elsewhere, Nasi Lemak Bumbung at Seapark is a legend for PJ “night owls”. The standard order is rice, fried egg bulls-eye style, fried chicken and sweet Notesambal with the standard condiments of cucumber, peanuts and anchovies.
As the crowd here is constant, you can be assured of piping hot chicken 90 per cent of the time. Heavy on spices, the skin is crispy while the flesh remains juicy. A tip — break the runny yolk and mix into the hot rice with a bit of Notesambal. This combination yields creamy, sweet spicy rice, essentially doubling the satisfaction of eating nasi lemak!
The location is another “pull factor”. Imagine buckets of fried chicken uniquely delivered from a “sunken” kitchen and dining while sitting in the alley (which is surprisingly clean) under the sky. Thus, the name bumbung (roof) though there’s no roof over your head at all!
A legendary nasi lemak brand recently expanded to include selling via a food truck and by some stroke of luck, it started doing business daily in my neighbourhood.
I wasted no time to get reacquainted with Nasi Lemak Tanglin and went away happy with its famous bouncy, tender sambal sotong. Though pricey, I was hard pressed to think of another nasi lemak with such good squid dish!
Then there is Warung Sinarnor, whose spicy sambal had me hooked eight years ago. The love affair has lasted till today.
This shop is run by three generations of women who have been steaming their nasi lemak using wood fire for over four decades.
The rice grains stay whole and fluffy and carry a delectable santan aroma. As expected, there is a whole repertoire of dishes to go with your order, but I’m happy enough with eggs and the sambal. It is just that good.
So, there we have it, a few easy-to-access-via-public-transport nasi lemak.
1. Nasi Lemak Wanjor/Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa
Jalan Raja Muda Musa, Kampung Baru, 50300 Kuala Lumpur.
LRT/MRT: Kampung Baru
Distance: 80-100 metres
Operating hours: 6.30am-noon, 4pm-1am
2. Bumbung Nasi Lemak Seapark
Jalan 21/11B, Sea Park, 46300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
LRT/MRT: Taman Paramount
Distance: 300 metres
Operating hours: Daily: 6pm-3am, closed on Fri.
3. Ho Li Chow
Distance: 250 metres
Operating hours: 8.30am-3.30pm, 7-11pm. Closed on Mondays.
4. Warong Sinarnor Nasi Lemak Kukus
Jalan 2/89C, Chan Sow Lin, 55200 Kuala Lumpur.
LRT/MRT: Chan Sow Lin
Distance: 600 metres
Operating hours: Daily from 7am to noon
5. Ali Muthu and Ah Hock
Distance: 200 metres
Operating hours: Mon-Sat, 8am-6pm.
6. Nasi Lemak Tanglin TTDI
Jalan Tun Mohd Fuad 3,
Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur.
Distance: 200 metres
Operating hours: 7am-noon.