Five Nasi Lemak Places to Try
Considered as comfort food by many Malaysians, nasi lemak has evolved from 50 sen a pack into an iconic dish heaped with spiced fried chicken, beef rendang and sambal sotong. Su Aziz hunts down places around Penang offering some satisfying, if not indulgent ones.
Johnny’s Nasi Lemak, Pulau Tikus
Quite a few Penangites living around Tanjung Tokong, Tanjung Bungah and George Town areas seem to wax lyrical about the nasi lemak in this place in Pulau Tikus. A newbie had even gone there three times since he failed the first two times to score a packet when arriving there after 10am. That’s right, don’t bother trying if it’s after 10am to 10.30am. Johnny opens at 8.30am and is sold out in a couple of hours after. Nestled within Jin Hoe Kopitiam on Jalan Burma, his nasi lemak is not accompanied by the usual sambal but with his rendition of sambal belacan instead. Yes, you read it right. The result is mind-blowing. A packet costs RM3.50 and around RM1 for each additional ‘trappings’. Johnny is closed on Sunday.
An indulgent choice is the RM25 breakfast of nasi lemak, fresh juice and coffee at Muntri Mews on Lebuh Muntri. There’s a generous amount of accompaniments such as egg, sambal, chicken rendang, ikan bilis, peanuts and of course, coconut flavoured rice which is beautifully arranged on a large plate. A plus point is the elegant café ambience of Muntri Mews that will up the nasi lemak breakfast to a lovely, lengthy tete-a-tete session.
Sri Weld Food Court, Lebuh Pantai
Located at the very front of the food court, the mounds of banana leaf-wrapped nasi lemak will tempt even before you park the car. At RM1.50 a packet, you have three choices of either fried chicken, hard-boiled egg or fish. A warning though: one packet is never enough with this one. The stall is open as early as 8.30am right up to 4pm and is closed on Sunday. The food court itself is across from the Whiteaway building on Lebuh Pantai. There’s parking right beside the food court (RM1.50 for the first two hours and RM1 for every subsequent hour).
Jalan Tanjung Tokong
Right before the traffic lights at the big cross-junction that leads into Jalan Bagan Jermal, Jalan Kelawei or Gurney Drive, on the left-hand side, is a small nasi lemak stall manned by a Malay lady. You can choose to make your nasi lemak packet a deluxe one or a basic one with sambal, ikan bilis, peanuts and hard-boiled egg. The deluxe can consist of proteins such as fish, beef rendang, fried chicken and the like. A basic packet will not cost you more than RM2 and with either fish or chicken, it will be between RM3.50 and RM5. She’s there on weekdays only, and be mindful of where you park. Get onto as much road’s shoulder as you can because this is a busy road that’s so close to the traffic lights. You don’t want to annoy other drivers, giving the nice nasi lemak makcik a bad rep.
Nasi Lemak Cilibilis, Gurney Drive Hawker Centre
This one sells nasi lemak from 5pm onwards except Sunday. Furthermore, its nasi lemak kukus (steamed with fragrant coconut milk and pandan leaves) results in puffy, more delicious flavoured rice but a tedious process compared to the boiled version. What you must try is their crispy-skinned deep fried chicken fried on the spot. It’s terrific to eat on its own but even better with a spoonful of nasi lemak and sambal. To suit the many visitors who go there to sample local fare, the sambal is not nearly spicy enough and has a touch of sweetness to it. A plate of nasi lemak here costs between RM2 and RM4.50.