A beeline for nasi lemak

SUCCESS in the Battle of Penang Hawker Masters 2012 has turned Hashim Haji Ismail’s nasi lemak into an overnight sensation, with crowds coming from near and afar to sample it.

The 50-year-old said business at his Nasi Lemak CiliBilis stall, located in Anjung Gurney food court, increased by some 30% to 40% since his victory, and left him astounded.

“Most are new customers and they often remarked that they came to try my dish after reading about me in the papers. Others said they couldn’t get enough of it during the event, and wanted more,” Hashim quipped.

Having been in the business for only three years, he credits his rapid rise to constant ‘research and development’ — sampling lots of other nasi lemak offerings, gleaning ideas, and figuring out how to make his version even better.

Already, his prize-winning offering is hard to beat. He cooks his rice in giant steamers with palm milk (santan sawit) instead of coconut milk, resulting in better aroma and texture, whilst also being healthier and less fatty.

It is served with traditional tasting sambal, ikan bilis (anchovies) and crispy fried chicken, which Hashim said, is how nasi lemak was enjoyed in the past.

“I mill my spices on a stone slab rather than pounding them with a mortar and pestle, and that makes a world of difference,” revealed Hashim who uses 25kg to 30kg of rice, and around 50 chickens, each day.

After surprising himself to win the contest at Penang Times Square recently, the Alor Setar native is looking forward to more challenges, and hopes there can a similar, nationwide contest for hawkers.

“It can be a good platform to showcase our hawker fare whilst elevating the quality of food, even higher,” Hashim observed.

But for now, he is looking forward to opening a third stall at Astaka Jelutong along the Jalan Jelutong main road, which will operate from 7am to 10pm daily.

This is in addition to his branch at Astaka Stadium Bukit Jalil in Kuala Lumpur, which opens from 7am to 6pm daily, except during event days when it extends operations until 2am.

Hashim’s main stall is located at Lot No. 1 at Anjung Gurney, along Gurney Drive, directly in front of McDonald’s, and opens from 3pm to 10pm daily

“When I first started trading here, nobody wanted this lot because it was at one end of the food court. But I felt it was a strategic location, being near an entrance. And also because it was number 1,” he mused.

To get in touch with him, call 017-4077612.

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Lifestyle , hawker battle


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