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Sunday February 5, 2012

Carry on eating

Nasi kandar comes from Penang, but the Klang Valley has some gems as well.

NASI kandar used to be the staple meal of coolies in Penang. Back in the day, it would consist of white rice and a curry.

These days, nasi kandar comes with a variety of side dishes such as fried chicken, ayam madu, beef curry, mutton curry, prawns, fish roe, fried fish, crab and fried squid. Of course, prices are now much higher. Expect to pay about RM10 for a plate of rice, chicken, egg and vegetables. If you miss nasi kandar but find it too far to travel up north for your fix, here are three decent nasi kandar places in the Klang Valley.

The spread at Nasi Kandar Ibramsha.

Nasi Kandar Ibramsha

A popular outlet for nasi kandar lovers, it is best to get to Nasi Kandar Ibramsha before noon or go after 2pm. Otherwise, be prepared to join the long queue. This was where I had my first taste of nasi kandar many years ago. Prices have skyrocketed since then – a plate of rice with ayam masak kicap (chicken with dark sauce), telur dadar (omelette) and vegetables used to cost RM6. Now, it’s RM8.50.

As usual, I would tell the guy who’s serving to “banjir semua kuah” or flood it with all the gravy. That is what makes the whole experience satisfying as each curry has its own special taste.

This time, I thought the curries lack oomph as they were probably cooked in a jiffy to cater for the large crowd.

The whole chicken leg was fork tender and juicy with a caramelised flavour from the kicap. Also decent was the telur dadar – thick and fluffy with a savoury-sweet flavour from the onions. I liked crushing the papadam into my curried rice and eating each spoonful with a bit of everything. Not the best nasi kandar I’ve eaten, but it’s still one of the better ones in Klang Valley.

Nasi Kandar Ibramsha, 68, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur (03-2693 6680). Opens: 7am to 7.30pm (daily), Friday: Closed at noon. GPS coordinates: N 3 09.156 E 101 41.769

Nasi Kandar Kudu Abdul

Just a stone’s throw away from Nasi Kandar Ibramsha, I found the nasi kandar at Kudu Abdul slightly tastier. I reckoned many people feel the same way, as the queue here was almost twice as long. I had to queue for a good 20 minutes before I got to the front of the line.

While waiting my turn, I saw a man taking kari telur ikan (fish roe curry) and it looked promising. I asked for the ayam madu (honey chicken), fish roe curry, a few pieces of okra and kuah banjir. My plate cost me slightly less than RM10, which was reasonable considering the fairly large fish roe.

The combination of curries gave the rice a delicious aroma and flavour. If you like your rice to be extra “banjir” you can always ask for an extra plate of kari campur. I found the honey chicken juicy and tender, and it went nicely with my curried rice. The fish roe gave the dish a creamy, lemak flavour; I enjoyed this.

I was told the prawn curry was worth trying, but a plate of rice with prawn curry and egg can go up to RM20. Maybe I’ll try this next time when I’m feeling more generous.

Nasi Kandar Kudu bin Abdul, 335 JalanTunku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur (016-287 2123). GPS coordinates: N 3 09.637, E 101 41.833

Penang Nasi Kandar @ Restoran Kok Siong

Restoran Kok Siong in Puchong looks like any other Chinese coffeeshop. A Mr Tee mans this nasi kandar stall with the help of three workers. According to him, he serves authentic Penang dishes.

Restoran Kok Siong has some of the best fried chicken.

I was there with my in-laws on a Saturday and there was already a queue before lunchtime. It could be the location, but the nasi kandar here is more affordable compared to the two stalls in downtown Kuala Lumpur.

We shared two fried chicken legs (RM6 each), sambal petai (RM3.50) and mutton curry (RM6). The nasi kandar with telur dadar cost RM5 while the one without is RM3.50. Both came with some kerak (also known as fried batter) on top, which gave the rice a crunchy texture.

Almost everyone in the coffeeshop was eating the nasi kandar best-sellers of fried chicken and mutton curry. The mutton, cooked in the thick and spicy curry, was slightly gamey but incredibly tender. It was delicious with the curry-laden rice.

The highlight of Nasi Kandar Kok is definitely the fried chicken. Deep-fried till golden brown, the chicken was crispy on the outside yet juicy and tender on the inside. You can ask for extra kerak for more kick. I didn’t care much for the sambal petai and it wasn’t as spicy as I would have liked it to be. Also, the addition of chopped fish paste made the dish taste weird. Not for me, this one.

I was very satisfied with my nasi kandar – portion and taste wise. Truth be told, I actually enjoyed this one more than the previous two places because the curries are more flavoursome and the chicken is fresh out of the fryer.

A quick chat with Mr Tee revealed that he has been operating his nasi kandar stall for 11 years.

Penang Nasi Kandar Kok (pork free), Restoran Kok Siong (next to Tesco Puchong), Jalan Bandar 16, Puchong. Opens daily: 10am to 4pm. GPS coordinates: N3 02.165 E101 36.973

Tiong Sue Lynn blogs at www.bangsarbabe.com and tweets at twitter.com/bangsarbabe.

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