3 questions with Razak Ismail
You spend most of the week dealing with nasi padang, what do you like to eat on your days off?
I love sushi and Japanese food. Raw fish is my favourite thing to eat. I feel like every culture has their own raw fish dish. Japanese food intrigues me because they put so much thought and care in preparing the food.
What are some of the bestsellers?
Rawon! I’m very proud of this recipe because I feel like it is the most authentic you can get in Singapore. Our opor ayam and asam pedas are also a great hit with our customers.
What are some of the things you like about running your own stall?
I’m the last generation left in running the business so I feel proud that I can continue what my mother, grandmother and great grandmother have put their roots in. It’s also nice to meet people from all walks of life.
Go there now
Maybe it’s the snaking queue or the neon sign that glows above its staggering array of dishes, each plate stacked on top of the other – either way, there’s no denying that Hajjah Mona Nasi Padang has presence.
Originating from Padang in West Sumatra (the name also translates to ‘rice from Padang’), the Indonesian dish features steamed white rice and your choice of meats, fish and vegetables often cooked with plenty of spices. Nasi padang is usually enjoyed in the ‘hidang’ (banquet) style, where a waiter brings you dozens of dishes and you can choose which to eat (and pay for). The other way to indulge in nasi padang is the one we’re most accustomed to – order a plate of rice, point at the dishes you want and heap on the sambal – just like cai png.
But unlike Chinese economy rice, nasi padang dishes utilise chillies, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, turmeric and an assortment of native herbs. Luckily for the stall’s owner, Razak Ismail, all of these ingredients are easily found within the market.