Monday, September 16, 2013

Tale of two nasi lemak stalls

Nasi lemak is a quintessential meal for the Singaporean...be it for breakfast, or lunch or sometimes even for dinner...or for the addicted...all three meals for the day. Where does one find the best? I cover two famous stalls today...one located almost totally across the island from the other.

First off at Boon Lay...west of our tiny island...this stall was made very famous by Makansutra who gave it a Die, Die Must Try rating.

When I arrived on a Wednesday afternoon about 10mins before noon, there was already a long queue. Based on reputation, I ordered an extra chicken wing, and some sayur lodeh.

How did it taste? In a word, disappointing. The rice was sans fragrance, probably because it was overcooked, and devoid of any coconut aroma. The chicken was not crispy...it was very hard, and also overcooked...the meat within was dry and unappetizing. The ikan bilis was was also hard, but was not crispy, probably deep fried long ago, and had lost its crisp. The egg was also overcooked. Way over cooked, almost rubbery. Overcooked seemed to be the theme. The sayur lodeh too was bland. And the very highly rated sambal was only remarkable for its boringness. I could not even finish the meal. A very un-power nasi lemak.

Cross over the island to Changi...and the almost equally famous International Nasi Lemak. There have been many mumblings that this stall is now a shadow of its former self. Having eaten there frequently some 10 years ago, when my office was in Loyang, I can attest that they were certainly very, very good in those days. I understand the people running the stall are different from those days.

So how are they now? Also in a word, very good. The rice was light, fluffy, and very fragrant. The chicken wing was crispy outside, very tender and juicy within. The ikan bilis also very ungreasy crisp, as were the peanuts. The egg was not the runny type, but consistent with the way Malay stalls cook theirs...this was totally cooked, but not overcooked. The additional otak I added was the only slight disappointment. It tasted fine, but I think there was too much filler and not enough fish.

Certainly a very different story from Boon Lay...International fully redeemed itself, and was a tasty treat.

Thus goes the tale of two famous nasi lemak stall. I would not hesitate to recommend International, but not the other.

Boon Lay Power Nasi Lemak
Blk Blk 221B, Boon Lay Place
#01-106 Boon Lay Place Food Centre


International Muslim Food Nasi Lemak
Changi Village Hawker Centre
2 Changi Village Road #01-03

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