Nasi Lemak is a Malaysian recipe through and through, despite what many other parties have declared otherwise (ahem, Indonesia).
Some naysayers have declared that Nasi Lemak originated from their country while others postulate that the dish is an amalgamation of their own beloved rice dish. Regardless, we’re pretty sure that the traditionally Malay (as in “Malay” from the word Malaysia, duh) dish is 100% from the Malayan nation.
If you somehow do not know what Nasi Lemak is, it’s pretty simple. In the Malay language, nasi translates to rice whereas lemak means fat. Put them together, and you’ve got a rough idea of what Nasi Lemak is all about.
Imagine fluffy fragrant rice cooked with a healthy portion of coconut milk (santan), which is also where the lemak portion of the dish comes from. And depending on its origins, this fragrant rice is also sometimes cooked with a few fresh pandan leaves for added flavour. Each plate (or banana leaves, as sold by many of the street vendors in KL) of Nasi Lemak is normally served with a few sides. Namely, deep-fried anchovies, a handful of toasted peanuts, a whole hardboiled egg, cucumber slices, and a generous dollop of sambal chilli — a homemade sweet and spicy condiment.
For the best of the best, look no further than the metropolis city of Kuala Lumpur where you may sample some of the finest renditions of the popular Malaysian dish and up your Nasi Lemak game.
Village Park Restaurant
While not exactly found within the city centre, Village Park’s Nasi Lemak is one dish you’ll gladly travel for. And while it is also well documented that this Chinese-Muslim family-run operation serves one of the best Nasi Lemak in town (according to the locals), we thought we’d echo the same sentiment anyway, for those who are unaware of this very famous restaurant.
Found in Damansara Utama, Village Park’s signature dish is, well, their Nasi Lemak — a savoury rendition of the Terengganu-style coconut-milk-tinged rice. Paired with hot and spicy sambal, as well as crispy fried chicken, it’s easy to see why this particular version of the Malaysian dish is well-received by the locals.
And if you pay attention to your surroundings, you’ll notice that the restaurant is not only frequented by the locals, but also by tourists from all over the world. Most impressively, the restaurant has even played host to a list of celebrities and even top-level politicians including Malaysia’s past and present Prime Ministers. Goes to show that a plate of delicious Nasi Lemak can be savoured as a food lover regardless of your status.
Nasi Lemak Goreng Chef Fauzey
For something a little outside of the mould, head over to this spot in Petaling Jaya which serves Nasi Lemak with a unique twist. As its name implies, Nasi Lemak Goreng Chef Fauzey is a food truck that serves a wok-fried version of the celebrated cuisine.
Instead of the regular steamed/cooked coconut milk rice, the food truck does a 180 and stir-fries the satan rice along with their homemade sambal sauce over a blazing hot wok. The result? A delectable (and spicy!) plate of fried rice style Nasi Lemak packed with that awesome “wok hei” flavour, paired with a serving of crispy fried chicken and topped with slices of cucumbers and a hardboiled egg. Oh, and have we mentioned that the extra dose of sambal, in addition to the already spicy fried rice, makes for a hot and tongue-numbing affair? But of course, spicy food lovers will definitely enjoy this version of Nasi Lemak.
If you’re milder in the spiciness department, there are other options available here including Nasi Lemak Kukus which also makes for a pretty decent meal.
Ann Nasi Lemak
As a multi-cultural nation, it comes as no surprise that there are multiple variations of the traditional Nasi Lemak dish to cater to the palates of its various communities. Chief among them is a non-halal twist on Nasi Lemak.
You read that right. Non-halal Nasi Lemak is coming up as the latest craze in the local Nasi Lemak scene (other than adapting the iconic dish’s flavour into other mediums). In this case, Ann Nasi Lemak at ICC Pudu is where you want to be to sample this mouth-watering dish.
What makes this particular dish unique is that the Chinese-influenced Nasi Lemak is drizzled with a heaping dose of pork skin curry, which coincidentally (or not) is one of their top sellers and signature dish. Paired with a side of either squid or clam sambal, the dish also comes with an optional serving of fried chicken, shrimp, minced pork, or fried petai. And while this Nasi Lemak is on the pricier side, the generous portions and delicious side dishes more than makes it worthwhile. Ann Nasi Lemak starts serving pretty early, so make sure to get there early to avoid the crowd, especially on weekends!