Nasi goreng is ubiquitous in nearly every hawker stall and local eatery throughout the country. But can you remember the last time you had a really good plate of nasi goreng? The truth is, these days, an excellent rendition of this de rigeur staple is akin to the discovery of a unicorn.
This is exactly what Vicknezan Selvadurai and Joanne Lim set out to rectify when they launched their brand new delivery business Dapur Nasi Goreng in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur earlier this month. The two are no strangers to the F&B world, as they also own popular local eateries like Lankan Crabs and Ketam Viral, under the auspices of their company 11 Trees.
For this endeavour, Vicknezan (better known as Vicky) and Lim partnered with experienced local chef Rajesh Khanna (who has spent 30 years in the business) to come up with a string of high-quality nasi goreng options designed to suit a wide range of local predilections and preferences.
“For me personally, this business was inspired by my children. Because my wife and I are both very busy working and we rarely have the time to cook meals so every night, we have to make the decision of what to eat and where to order from. And my son went through a phase a few months ago where he ordered nasi goreng all the time!
“So we actually ordered from various restaurants, but we were not getting that wow factor, even though we were still spending money on the food, so I thought ‘Why not solve the problem?’,” says Vicky.
Rajesh said he was equally enthused about the idea of putting together nasi goreng dishes because this is a uniquely Malaysian concept.
“Food standards have dropped because a lot of chefs don’t put effort and love into what they do. And nasi goreng is a very basic, simple dish but so many people don’t do it the right way, that’s why we had to get it right,” says Rajesh.
Rajesh designed the menu with input from Vicky and Lim and kept the kitchen operations simple, so that each meal could be easily replicated.
“My job is to make the kitchen processes as simple as possible, so if someone resigns, someone else can easily take over their job. So while we don’t compromise on taste or ingredients, the system that we created is very good and works well,” he says.
From what’s on offer, try the Nasi Goreng Kam Here Ong (RM13.50). Basically a fried rice that encompasses all the flavours embedded in a kam heong dish (which utilises soy sauce, curry powder and curry leaves), this is probably the breakout star of Dapur Nasi Goreng’s offerings. In this iteration, the kam heong flavour profile is deeply engrained in every last fibre and molecule of the rice, which is studded with dried prawns and curry leaves in what can only be described as a ‘Why didn’t anyone think of this before?’ fried rice. In short, it’s potent, addictive stuff.
Up next, try the Nasi Goreng Cili Berkali Kali Kali (RM12). If you’re a spice fiend, this is absolutely the fried rice for you – the sort of fiery, gut-busting, heart-pounding, sweat-inducing stuff that is likely to elicit a fever pitch of euphoria and excitement.
The rice is fried perfectly and this is accentuated by such a plenitude of chillies – from green chillies, red chillies to dried chillies and cili padi as well as a homemade sambal – that you can imagine the combustive after-effects. It really is well worth indulging in this hot, hot thang.
Another interesting concoction is the Nasi Goreng Sambal Segan (RM17). This is basically sambal petai airlifted and dropped into a fried rice. Here, you will discover copious amounts of petai (stink beans) fried with sambal, chicken, eggs and rice in what is a very locally-inspired fried rice that promises maximum satisfaction. The success of this dish lies in the strength and pungency of the petai, which is plentiful and permeates the core of this dish in a very tangible way.
For a taste of flavours from our neighbours up north, definitely try the Nasi Goreng Tuk Tuk (RM13.50). Here, herbaceous undercurrents run through the rice, which is filled with nuanced notes of lemongrass, lime leaves and torch ginger buds couched in a spicy-sour hotel grade tom yum paste alongside a spoonful of Rajesh’s sambal udang petai. Cumulatively, this provides each mouthful with plenty of Thai-rrific flavours and a little bit of oomph to match.
The Nasi Goreng Selasa Ke Rabu (RM14.50) meanwhile is an ode to Kelantan and Terenganu’s famed nasi kerabu. Here, pea sprouts, kerisik (grated, toasted coconut), long beans, carrots, eggs and chicken are juxtaposed together in what bears a sort-of similarity to the classic nasi kerabu. Except in this iteration, there is a sense that something is missing, nothing too major that you won’t enjoy it, but just a subtle, lingering sense of missed opportunity.
On the vegetarian front, the brand has a surprising offering in the ilk of the keto dish Nasi Goreng Kauli Vege Kruk Kruk (RM13). Framed in the vein of cauliflower rice, this is a slightly different take on the trendy dish, as the cauliflower is chopped roughly so it isn’t designed to resemble rice. In this constellation, you will also discover shiitake mushrooms, long beans, carrots, chicken and eggs in what proves to be an extremely delicious stir-fried vegetable dish.
The brand also has a series of fried chicken side options, and of the three options on offer, the Ayam Daebak Tiada Thai-dingan (RM8) is a sure-fire winner. Here, crispy, crispy fried chicken is coated in a sweet-spicy Thai influenced sauce that is oh-so satisfyingly good. It’s the sort of chicken that is simple and uncomplicated but has been done to absolute perfection.
Moving forward, Vicky and Lim already have their sights set firmly upon expansion and hope to bring Dapur Nasi Goreng to more areas in the Klang Valley soon.
“For the business side, we are definitely looking to expand and we hope that within the first three to four months in Bangsar, we can see more traction. For now, we are already looking at a second outlet in Subang (Selangor) and hope to have three to five outlets by the end of 2023,” says Vicky.
Order from Dapur Nasi Goreng via www.dng.delivery.