Monday, August 23, 2010

Sinar Pagi: rays of delicious hope

Sinar Pagi is a quintessential Malay makan joint. Food served with rice, Padang style, except in Singapore, they don't lay all the dishes out on your table and you pick and eat those you like, and pay for only what you eat. Here you choose the dishes from a serving station, and they serve you what you choose.

I had been eating here for a while...and in an earlier period when my office was just around the corner in Battery Road, I used to walk down with my Australian colleague Drew for a taste of what he called "best barbi chook in the world!". High praise indeed, and I tend to agree with him

Come at the right time...we had it figured back then to be about 1145am to about 1215 is the best time to arrive...earlier, and the ayam pangang (BBQ chicken) is not yet ready...later, and not only do you get chicken which is not immediately hot off the barbi, the queues are long.

The chicken is tender it just falls off the bone. The charcoal fire imparts an unmistakable smoky aroma, a characteristic charring and crisping of the edges of the skin...and the burnt fat makes this dish irresistable. Combined with the smooth, rich, luxurious sauce...almost heaven.

This time, with Kin, we also ordered the beef rendang

The beef rendang is the typical Malay kampung style. No attempt is taken to procure a finer cut of meat. The cut was probably rump...a typically tough, sinewy cut. But the spices infused the muscle fibres, the slow rendang cooking tears down the tough fibres into a managable, though still chewy meat. There is a charm, and indeed a nice taste to eating the slightly tough, almost no marbled meat. The thick, rich, sauce providing ample support to make this an excellent, delicious dish.

We also had the Tahu Telur

A typical Balinese dish...tofu, coated with egg, deep fried, and heaped on it...a load of juliened vegetables - carrots, cucumber, and a sweet, spicy black sauce fortified with crushed peanuts. My reference for a good Tahu Telor was served by the now defunct Sanur in Centerpoint. Crisp egg exterior, moist, soft and fragrant tofu inside, and a wonderful sauce. Sinar Pagi's version is just as good, but different. The crispy egg exterior is there. But the tofu used is the harder, firmer variety, giving it more bite, but also very fragrant. The sauce is thick, sweet, and the peanuts were freshly roasted and crushed...still crunchy. Nice dish.

I like this style of Nasi Padang. Another favourite place for this style of cuisine is at Warong M. Nasir at Killeney Road...but Warong is decidedly more upmarket, and for e.g. the beef used in their rendang is a better cut...more marbled, less sinewy, more tender...melts in your mouth. Both have their good points, and both are just as delicious.

p.s. sinar in Malay means shine...pagi means morning...hence the play of words rays of delicious hope in today's title.

Sinar Pagi Nasi Padang
13 Circular Road
6536 5302
Mon-Thu 9am-10.30pm;
Fri 9am-11pm;
Sat noon-2am.
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