Nasi lemak. The perennial Malaysian favourite, and the country’s national dish.
The traditional version – often wrapped in banana leaf in a pyramid-like shape – consists of rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan, served with sambal (spicy sauce), fried anchovies and peanuts, sliced cucumber and a boiled egg. While the dish is primarily served by Malay vendors (but enjoyed by people from all walks of life), Malaysia being the multiracial country that it is means that every race has their own unique version of nasi lemak. For the Chinese, it often means incorporating their own side dishes (sometimes non-halal) to go with the fragrant coconut rice.
We’ve heard a lot about Nasi Lemak Peel Road – a Chinese-style nasi lemak stall in Cheras that has been going strong for over 26 years – so N and I decided to go check it out for ourselves.
Run by a husband and wife team, the stall is easily distinguished from the other hawkers thanks to its bright yellow signage. That, or just look for the crowd milling about the front, where makeshift chairs and tables are setup each afternoon. Parking is a pain so your best bet would be to park inside Sunway Velocity Mall which is just across the road.
Served ‘chap fan’ (mixed rice) style, there are about 10 dishes to choose from to go with your nasi lemak. The bestseller is their fried chicken, which is made fresh on the spot at the kopitiam next to where the stall is. They literally ‘fly’ off the rack as soon as each batch is served! (Customer before us ordered 10 pieces). Other must-tries are the sambal sotong, rendang (only available on weekends), curry mutton, chicken curry and ayam masak merah, a Peranakan-inspired dish taught by the proprietor’s grandmother who was a Nyonya.
That aside you get items such as fried sausages and eggs, luncheon meat, stir-fried vegetables, pork and potatoes, sambal petai, and more. The lady boss cooks everything on her own (except the fried chicken, which the husband does) to ensure good quality control.
Loaded my plate with fried chicken, sambal sotong and mutton curry. All the dishes went well with the rice, which was creamy but subtle. I can see why the chicken is so popular – extremely flavourful (not just on the skin but on the inside as well), addictively crunchy on the outside whilst being tender and moist on the inside. The mutton curry was not gamey at all and not too spicy; while the sambal sotong had a nice sweet and savoury tang to it with just enough kick. Two plates cost us RM15, which is very reasonable imo considering its a meal in the city centre.
Note: Come early to avoid disappointment; they run out as early as 8.30PM. Seats are limited so it’s best to tapau.
NASI LEMAK PEEL ROAD
88, Jalan Peel, Maluri, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Opening hours: 2.30PM – 8.30PM (closed Thursdays)