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The Coconut Club
Photograph: The Coconut Club

The best restaurants and stalls for nasi lemak in Singapore

Fragrant coconut rice, a side of sambal, anchovies and some egg – what would we do without nasi lemak?

Delfina Utomo
Dawson Tan
Written by
Delfina Utomo
&
Dawson Tan
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Do we eat nasi lemak for breakfast, lunch or dinner? Often with the best local dishes, any time is the right time. Nasi lemak is no exemption. Fluffy and fragrant rice, a fried, boiled or omelette egg, sambal with anchovies and which ever sides you like to pile on your plate – who can resist a good serving of nasi lemak? When the craving hits, this is where we head to for our fill. 

RECOMMENDED: The best chicken rice in Singapore and the best nasi padang restaurants and stalls in Singapore

Uptown Nasi Lemak
Photograph: Uptown Nasi Lemak

Uptown Nasi Lemak

Parked in a corner along the Telok Ayer stretch is a stall that serves up heaving-hitting hearty plates of nasi lemak. The recipe is an amalgamation of some of the best nasi lemak in Damansara Uptown, Petaling Jaya aka food paradise across the borders. Come lunchtime, you'd often find a long line of hungry officer workers patiently waiting to satiate themselves. The draw is none other than their crispy succulent Ayam Goreng Berempah (from $6) jam-packed with fragrant spices. Another highlight is the rich beef rendang ($8.50) also goes exceptionally well with aromatic coconut rice. Not keen on waiting in line? Try arriving before 11am for an early lunch.

Market Street Nasi Lemak
Photograph: Dawson Tan

Market Street Nasi Lemak

Hunting for a satisfying plate of Nasi Lemak in the CBD isn't all too difficult. A pair of brothers run the show at the newly opened Market Street Hawker Centre. Don't hesitate to join the queue as they move fast. There's an extensive selection of ingredients to pick from but for a fuss-free plate, go with the sets. For under $5 ($4.30 to be specific), you'll get decent-sized fried drumstick, their signature pandan green rice, a crisp ikan kuning, otah, egg, ikan bilis, and of course, the sambal. Definitely a coma-inducing but fulfilling lunch. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Malaysian
  • Marine Parade

Crispy chicken fried upon each order, double steamed fragrant coconut rice and freshly homemade sambal. These three components are what make the winning combination behind the lauded Malaysian-style Dickson Nasi Lemak, which is said to have the same recipe as the famed Village Park restaurant in KL. Save a trip across the border and join the snaking queues that were ever-present since it first opened. There’s also a new addition of Ayam Goreng Berempah where the bite-sized chicken thigh boasts bold flavours of lemongrass, ginger and turmeric. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Singaporean
  • Mandai

If you're in the area, this nasi lemak joint is a must try. Brace yourselves for the wait in line but luckily, the crew takes orders in double-quick time. Open from 5pm to 7am the next day, it is a popular stop for the dinner and supper crowds since it first opened in 1973. Aromatic rice is served with specially marinated fried chicken wings and its signature sambal. There are many side dishes you can add on – but its spicy stirfried long beans and sambal brinjal seem to be the crowd favourite. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Rochor

Controversial is what it is. And you’ll probably ask, why should I pay $18.80 for a plate of nasi lemak when I can tapow one for three bucks from the nearby Amoy Food Centre? But The Coconut Club’s take on it is tried and true. The nasi lemak comes with all the trimmings: a fried egg, ikan bilis, peanuts, cucumber, fried chicken and, of course, sambal. The chicken thigh is the real star of the dish and is coated in a turmeric-, lemongrass- and cumin-heavy rempah before hitting the fryer, and is way juicier and more tender than the ones at your kopitiam stall.

Old School Canteen
  • Restaurants
  • Hawker
  • Changi 

Try nasi lemak the old-school way. Fitting the nostalgic backdrop, blasting old tunes and peppered with vintage memorabilia, Old School Canteen serves plates of nasi lemak the traditional way. There are three different types of sambal to choose from: sambal with boiled egg, cuttlefish or prawns. Unlike the smooth paste you usually get with regular nasi lemak, the sambal here is thick and chunky. Have it with a serving of fluffy coconut rice, fried fish, peanuts and anchovies – starting from a mere $3 for a complete plate.

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  • Restaurants
  • Singaporean
  • Jurong West

From the West side, Power Nasi Lemak is a strong contender for the best in the country. From $4, you can get a power-packed plate with your choice of meat (fried chicken, fish, otah and more) and a generous mound of fragrant coconut rice. The crowd favourite is the chicken wings (and has the reputation of being one of the best in town) so pile on extra servings to make all that queuing worth it. 

Fong Seng Nasi Lemak
Photograph: Fong Seng Nasi Lemak

Fong Seng Nasi Lemak

A popular supper spot in the West that opens till the wee hours! It caters to hungry NUS students, port workers and ones who stay around where it makes up a formidable queue during peak hours. Here, you can mix and match your choice of ingredients to make up the perfect plate. From classic chicken wings to perfectly fried eggs, there's also a tasty otah that is fiery and meaty. Our favourite is definitely the crispy boneless chicken thigh – trust us, it is worth the additional top-up.

 

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Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak
  • Restaurants
  • Hawker
  • Bukit Timah

The family-run operation has been a part of Singapore’s food landscape since 1998, dishing out plates of its fluffy beds of basmati coconut rice to hungry queues of people. To speed up the ordering process, everything on the menu comes as a set, so you can’t pick and choose what you’d like with your rice. For the works, order the Full House ($4.50), which comes with a fried chicken wing, otah, ikan bilis, an egg and a sweet sambal sauce that’s so good when mixed with the rice. 

  • Restaurants
  • Singaporean
  • Kallang

In the debate of whether nasi lemak is breakfast food or not, Ponggol Nasi Lemak goes on to only open in the evenings. Still, the stall warrants snaking queues and a supper crowd because of the late closing hours. There's so much variety at the stall – think beyond just a fried egg and fish as the sides – prepare to choose from crispy fried chicken, fried prawns, green beans, okra and more.

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International Nasi Lemak
  • Restaurants
  • Changi 

Long queues are the norm for International Nasi Lemak, a stall at Changi Village that serves up the rice dish with all the trimmings: fried chicken wings, ikan bilis, fried ikan kuning and otah. Whatever you do, don’t miss the sambal – it’s spicy, fragrant and extremely moreish. 

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