During my time in Malaysia I seeked out the best place to have Nasi Lemak, a well known signature dishes in the country. To find the best serving of it in vast Kuala Lumpur was a challenge to say the least.
If you’ve never had Nasi Lemak before and don’t know what it is, let me briefly explain. It’s a rice dish cooked up in coconut milk and is usually served with sambal, fried crispy anchovies, toasted peanuts and cucumber. Additionally, the common thing to have it with is fried chicken.
All areas of the city houses some kind of street stall or shop that serves up their own twist on the dish, whether it be wrapped up in banana leaf or on a plate. To weed out the best and those that are worthy of a visit, the only logical thing to do was to find out from the locals.
Now before I did that, I ventured out on my own and had a heck of a time trying multiple variations in areas such as Chinatown, Bukit Bintang, and neighborhoods along the way towards the Petronas towers.
I found that depending on how well the fried chicken is done, it is the major determinant whether the dish rates the best or not. It’s a real deal breaker if the chicken lacks crispiness or seasoning.
A variety that you can find are the Nasi Lemaks sold pre-made and wrapped up in banana leaf. These rank the lowest in quality and taste in my opinion and it’s probably the equivalent of the fast and easy “to-go” version of this dish. By the time you sit down to eat it, the chicken is soggy and cold and the rice is either too dry or mushy.
So, that led me to move on to the next commonly served up version – “the food court Nasi Lemak.”
The food court versions were a hit and miss because in these type of establishments it’s common for food to be pre-cooked for the day and served a-la-carte along side dozens of other common meal items. The best time to hit up these joints is in the morning when the food is freshest or whenever you notice a new batch being put out. This is easily one of the more popular ways the locals tend to indulge in this dish because prices are relatively cheap, seating is abundant, and you can choose whatever you’d like to have on your dish. Naturally, a strong no-fuss option.
Of course the inconsistency of the food court versions didn’t do it for me, so now I figured it was time to ask the locals. Turns out, as it should be, this was the golden ticket to find a gem outside of central Kuala Lumpur.
The only place that I found sold the BEST nasi lemak (in my humble opinion of course) is a place called Village Park Restaurant located in Petaling Jaya. I’m not at all associated with this restaurant or sponsored by them, so this is out of my own experience.
By far and hands down the best I’ve had because the chicken is crispy, the rice is fresh and perfectly cooked, and the sambal was not too spicy nor too bland. You know the crunch you get when your knife cuts through crispy chicken skin? Yup, you’ll get it here. The chicken was so good that I had to eat every little bit of it off the bone.
Getting to the restaurant requires a car and there can be a queue outside the door, so be sure you’re really up for a food adventure.
Happy eating! ?
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