Nasi Kandar is a bombastic rice dish of spicy, punchy flavours. It’s essentially a one-plate rice meal, piled high with meats and vegetables and drenched in curry and gravy. The dish came from the Indian Muslim community in Penang, an island in Malaysia well-loved for its vibrant street food culture.
To our delight, the nasi kandar at Zero Two is authentic – and reasonably priced, with rice plates ranging between ¥1,000 and ¥1,980. While the heat level here is not as fiery as those in Malaysia, the spices are very well-balanced and Zero Two manages to retain the essence of what makes nasi kandar such an enjoyable meal. Of course, the food at Zero Two Nasi Kandar Tokyo is halal-certified.
For starters, the dishes on offer are extensive and you’ll see them all laid out in the display case at the ordering station. Brace yourself as you’ll be spoilt for choice. First, decide on a main dish: hard boiled egg (with a gooey yolk, no less), grilled chicken, deep-fried lamb cutlet, fish fingers and a vegetarian option. Then your preferred base: plain white rice or biryani rice.
Now this is where the fun begins. From the selection of vegetables, choose three side dishes. (Tip: get the pink-hued pachadi, or yoghurt-based pickle, if you want something to help tone down the heat of what’s about to come.) Then, two curries out of six. The chicken curry as well as the prawn and squid curry are exceptional. There’s also a vegetarian curry and a seasonal option. To finish, the server will throw in some stir-fried bean sprouts and boiled okra for good measure. There’s a lot on the plate, and that’s the joy of nasi kandar. It’s a generous meal, both in portion and in flavour.
To go with your meal, there’s masala chai, beer as well as 100 Plus, a wildly popular Malaysian isotonic drink. Then, grab a seat and dig in while you try and identify as many Malaysian icons as you can from the caricature murals on the restaurant walls – the Petronas Twin Towers and the orang utan are pretty obvious.