Wednesday, December 7, 2011

If You're In PJ Area...Where To Go For Nasi Lemak...

By Calvin Wong
Dec 7, 2011
Difficult as it may be to get Malaysians to agree on things, nasi lemak as a national food has a pretty good consensus rate. If you’re ever in the PJ area and have a craving for the good stuff, here are three places to check out:
WHERE: Heritage Village, Aman Suria ( Next to 6-10 Grill)
WHAT: Nasi lemak ayam rendang
VERDICT: First things first: the ayam rendang is amazing. Tender and juicy; flavourful… but not overly spicy. The same can be said of the sambal, given the tendency of some places to overwhelm with spiciness. The rice, sambal, and chicken layer perfectly over each other into a mouth-watering bite.
Despite not being very hungry, it was really hard to eat slowly, leading to the experience being over much too soon. The individual flavours combine slowly instead of sledgehammering their way to the top of the tongue’s attention. There was a great subtleness to the whole meal, which was slightly spoiled by our choice of dessert: Barley and gingko. Probably best to just leave it at the nasi next time.
WHERE: Sea Park Nasi Lemak ( Next to the Maybank, opposite the 7-11)
WHAT: Nasi lemak ayam goreng
 This nondescript place doesn’t have an official name as far as we can tell, but the crowds serve as recommendation by themselves. They only do two foods: Nasi lemak ayam goreng, and Indo mee. The Indo mee is pretty standard, but the nasi lemak is exceptional, especially considering the price point.
The fried egg is a perfect touch, with the yolk still runny. The fried chicken is greasy and delicious. The sambal is light on spice and really only serves to be part of the whole.
That’s the thing about this place. Each individual component by itself is just okay, but combined on your spoon the gestalt is really something special. Nothing overbalances anything else, and each mouthful is just TASTY. It’s really satisfying in that way that street food can be.
Service is instantaneous, and the place has its own sense of charm. Well worth a visit.
WHERE: Village Park, PJ Uptown ( Facing the Alliance Bank)
WHAT: Nasi lemak rendang
VERDICT: This place is extremely happening. We went at lunch time and there was a short wait to get a table, and even then we were squeezed in next to other people. There’s a strict no-laptop policy to prevent dawdling. You definitely feel like there’s a churn and you’re part of it; get in, eat, leave.
However, once the food arrives you get exactly why so many people were willing to brave the afternoon rain and the parking nightmare that is PJ Uptown.
The upside of high turnover is the food is served fresh. Steaming, aromatic, amazing. I keep talking about how the elements of nasi lemak must mesh; rice, sambal, side, but here it’s all pretty much perfect. The fact that the food is served to you hot makes a big difference, creating a rich, warm mouthful that coalesces into an amazing strata of flavours. Stopping to take notes was a serious, serious struggle.
They’re closed by sevenish so this is strictly an afternoon place. If you can get past all the hassle, it’s well worth the trip and was the best of the three places visited.


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