Kafe Bawang Merah
Time Out says
One of the longest-running restaurants in the quiet neighbourhood of SS12, Bawang Merah always, always sports a healthy lunch crowd. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
It may seem a little chaotic – people navigating the cramped space (commence a slew of ‘excuse me-s’), restaurant staff trying to deliver trays of drinks, a queue for the nasi campur that’s getting longer by the minute. But calmly join the queue and pick from the spread through the glass case; the friendly kakak will scoop the lauk for you. Wait patiently for your turn to pay at the end of the queue, try to secure a table (somewhat impossible at the height of lunch hour), then dig right in.
We’ve visited a fair few nasi campur joints in the city both in and out of Kampung Baru, and while most are excellent, there’s always one or two lauk that doesn’t quite hit the spot. However, three visits in to Bawang Merah, we weren’t disappointed yet. The daging masak hitam was tender to the last bite, vegetables in the acar jelatah were fresh, and the rice was fragrant with a good, fluffy texture. Found on nearly every table at lunchtime, the lontong – thick, milky broth, generous portions of tempeh and vegetables and topped with a dollop of sweet sambal – was fantastic too.
While seating can be somewhat disorganised, the service is fast and friendly. And the best thing about Bawang Merah (at least to us) is the fact that it serves kuih, and superior versions of that. Upon our first visit, the kuih shelf was almost emptied; so we resolved to return for another try. A strategically timed second visit did the trick – the wooden cabinet was fully stocked with a variety of kampung kuih when we arrived. The kuih talam, kuih keria, kuih gula hangus, apam kecil and onde-onde were some of the best we’ve had. There’s also kuih rengas – pandan pulut covered with lightly salted desiccated coconut, served with a rich, smoky gula Melaka syrup. Tip: come before lunch or around 2.30pm for fresh refills of kuih. If you’re here for tea, they sometimes serve karipap in their afternoon spread.
A minor gripe – Subang residents have complained about its prices (for example, the fiery sambal belacan and tempoyak are chargeable). But for an excellent meal in air-conditioned surroundings and a sweet ending, it’s not too much a price to pay.