One of my favourite places to eat Nasi Lemak is in a quaint little restaurant in Jalan Imbi in Kuala Lumpur, curiously called Sakura. Sounding more like a karaoke bar than a family restaurant, this place has been in operation for a long time...decades.
The rumour is that the chef of Sakura left and started her own place...known as Madam Kwan's...I suppose that's her name, she too gained great fame...especially that the restaurant is halal...important in Malaysia, where a large Muslim community exists. And located strategically in the high end shopping malls...KLCC, Mid-Valley Megamall, et al.
I heard the chef of Madam Kwan's has now left...the circle of life...and is now opened a new restaurant in Singapore's Paragon. Known simply as Grandma's it promises to serve the same wonderful food as Madam Kwan's.
A very similar menu is presented...with the chef's speciality of Nasi Lemak (also a speciality in Sakura and subsequently in Mdm Kwan's) and Nasi Bojari (never knew its existance in Sakura, but a favourite in Mdm Kwan's), chendol, otah.
I ordered the Nasi Bojari. I am not sure what is the providence of nasi bojari, but all internet searches for it end up pointing to Madam Kwan's...which leads me to believe it was invented there. The only reference taking it further than M. Kwan's, actually quotes her, and is found in a New Straits Times article which states: "Nasi Bojari is from Indonesia where the rice is meant for royalty, and is layered red, yellow and white. "We can’t do it here," said Madam Kwan. So she did the next best thing — frying the rice with bits of chicken, garlic and dried prawns and lightly tinging the rice with red, and yellow from turmeric. "It’s rice for royalty," said Kwan, which is why the Indonesians who come to dine have not had it before. There little bursts of flavours in the rice from the ingredients in it."
The chicken thigh is very large, as it was in KL...the skin looked taut and crispy, and the insides look tender and juicy. A small serving of beef rendang accompanies, and yellowish-reddish-white hemisphere of fragrant rice is the main attraction. Half a hard boiled egg also adorns with a condiment which looked like sambal onions. The chicken was indeed juicy, tender and the skin very crispy. The beef was also tender...but from long, slow cooking instead of a superior cut rendering the sinews still visible but very tender. Excellent dish.
We also had the Nasi Lemak.
Very fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk so that it is creamy, rich and luxurious in the mouth. The condiments are a serving of super rich chicken curry, some sambal cuttlefish and sambal onions with ikan bilis. Shred the chicken, and mix the rice, chicken, cuttlefish and onions till homogeneous...add in more sambal belachan. And enjoy. Shiok.
We also ordered some sambal potato leaves...
This was quite regular...the potato leaves were a bit on the old side...but cooked till tender and the sambal was very good.
They are also famous for otah otah...so we had one
The style of the otah was the one wrapped in banana leaf, and barbecued. It was rather tasty...flaky almost, but moist and juicy inside...nearly crisp outside...and there were small bits of fish within. A smoky aroma permeates as it was probably barbecued on a charcoal fire. Nice.
Overall a nice restaurant with good, tasty food...and nice service. Convenient location right in the middle of Orchard Road. A tad pricey for local food, but in my opinion well worth the money.
290 Orchard Road #B1-42/43
The Paragon Singapore
Tel: +65 6737 7931
11:30am – 3pm
6 – 10:30pm daily