Nasi Lemak Kukus: Traditional Steamed Rice and Homemade Burgers!




If you are wondering what the future of Nasi Lemak looks like, then head towards Upper Thomson and you might just catch a glimpse of its evolutionary path in Singapore.  I don't know why it has taken so long for someone to do this, but eating Nasi Lemak in a laid back place with customer's scribblings on the wall and listening to hard rock seems to be quite logical.  Nasi Lemak is, after all, one of the favourite supper foods of Singaporeans, but so far, Malay style Nasi Lemak hasn't quite developed beyond the hawker stall concept... that is, until now.


The whole atmosphere at Nasi Lemak Kukus is a welcome change from the usual, but they have done more than just create a nice environment to eat Nasi Lemak.  The key to the place is the quality of the food which is driven by the passion of the Chef Reni and her family members who run the place.  If you want to gauge the quality and passion, you don't really have to go far beyond the rice and the sambal tumis to get an impression of what the rest of the dishes are going to be like.


The rice steamer

Now, there is Nasi Lemak and then there is Nasi Lemak Kukus. Nasi Lemak Kukus basically means that the rice has been steamed over water rather than being cooked in the water as is usually done with a rice cooker.  This is the traditional way of cooking Nasi Lemak and results in a rice which has a bit of a grainy bite, much like pasta that has been cooked Al Dente.  This method of cooking rice is much more laborious than simply cooking it in a rice cooker.   First, the rice needs to be soaked, then steamed till it is just cooked  before coconut milk is stirred into the rice and returned to the steamer.  This results in a rice with a bright and fresh coconut aroma as the coconut milk is not overcooked. By the way, the rice here costs $1 and it is free flow.  So, if you are really on a shoestring budget, you can potentially just order $1 rice and eat it with the sambal till you are full.  That would make it one of the cheapest place get your stomach filled in Singapore! 

The sambal tumis here is also excellent.  They have the spicy version and sweet version which you can choose from.  Just having the rice and chilli is good enough for me to score a 4.5/5 for this Nasi Lemak.  But of course, that is not going to satisfy most Singaporeans.  So they have a whole series of different dishes which you can choose from to accompany your Nasi Lemak.  If it is fried chicken you are after, they have 3 different types to choose from, viz wings, thigh and cutlet.  They are all marinated differently.  My favourite is the thigh which has the more traditional tumeric seasoning.  Some of the other customers there liked the wings but I felt that fragrance of the chopped Kaffir Lime Leaves was a little too strong.



Power Burger  $3.50

One of the new items that have just been introduced is the Power Burger.  Again, this seems to be the next logical evolution for the familiar Malay style Ramly Burger.  But don't ever mention Encik Ramly here because they take a lot of pride in saying that theirs is POWER Burger, not Ramly Burger.  The difference lies in their homemade burger patty which is made from freshly ground beef and seasoned with their own secret blend of spices.  The patties are also slathered with their homemade lemongrass flavoured sauce which gives the burger a bit of that satayish flavour.



I think that the Power Burger is a great idea and the patties are certainly healthier than the Ramly patties which you can't import into Singapore due to AVA regulations.  However, the patties do need a bit more tweaking to give it a better bite.  What makes Ramly Burgers addictive is the seasoning that goes into the pattie that gives it that powerful shiok taste.  This is of course lacking in the Power Burger which uses a homemade pattie.  However, when I eat a Ramly in Malaysia, the initial joy is always followed by post prandial (after eating) guilt of not knowing what cow parts and chemicals have gone into the pattie which has been shallow fried in artery clogging, trans-fat laden margarine. So at least, the Power Burger is a healthier alternative to Ramly.  A few more tweaks and it would be a Burger to look out for. 3.75/5

Conclusion

Remember Nasi Lemak Kukus the next time you have a hankering for Nasi Lemak for supper.  The food is great, the place is funky, the rice is free flow and there is a Power Burger to boot!

Nasi Lemak Kukus
908 Upper Thomson Road
Singapore 787111
6pm to 3am
82229517 Reni
Monday Closed

26 comments:

liverpool1965 said...

Will drop by when I visit Sembawang! Shopping Centre!

Jessica Tan said...

Another way of cooking coconut rice is using basmati rice instead of the normal long grain rice that we eat. It's really good, as somehow the pandan leaves essence, salt and coconut infused really well into the rice and when we cooked it, it cooks perfectly all the time n you don't have to worry about burning it, no skills required!

Anonymous said...

Economy rice-style nasi lemak kukus is actually a traditional Malay cuisine that can be found all over Malaysia.

Chilli Crab said...

Rice is free flow? Will check out the place. The photos made me hungry already.. :)

Valarie said...

Tried the Nasi Lemak there before and it was mostly hyped up. It was the most expensive Nasi Lemak I've ever had and for that quality, I'd never recommend that place.

ieat said...

I went twice. My first experience was like yours. Gave them some suggestions which they implemented. Now its much better. You should give them another go.

Faeez said...

Like Jessica, I use basmati rice when cooking nasi lemak too. Still, must check out this place! Btw, there are frozen Ramly burger patties produced & sold in sg but they are not widely available & strangely they don't taste as good as the ones produced in Malaysia.

Faeez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lester said...

Dear Valarie, it's Lester here. I'm truly sorry about your experience, but let me assure you that hype is the last avenue I'll resort to to drum up business! It's truly a long term legacy that we're trying to build, and hype's just purely fly-by-night. I must admit that we've seen a fair bit of publicity this year, but nothing detracts from the fact that food quality remains the core tenant of this endeavor! In fact, this core has been literally etched into the wet cement since renovation days!

Tutus said...

I thought this place is founded by a pilot? This fact is well known. I even got friend who knew the boss. Surprised you now mentioning that it's a family business.

I must say that this is very expensive place to eat nasi lemak. 2 plates of normal ingredients like peanuts, ikan bilis and chicken wing and egg etc cost me $14 with drinks. The price does not justify anything. And Changi nasi lemak cost $7 now for 2 plates I think and I thought that is already quite expensive.

ieat said...

Yes, the owner is a pilot, but the place is effectively run by the family.

Jackie said...

It's sad to hear about food-sellers justifying rather high prices by throwing in some cheese or "exotic" ingredient. I for one appreciate (and will make effort to support) sellers who offer down-to-earth food, sourcing fresh ingredients etc. Here in Marine Drive coffeeshop, a young stallholder is trying to sell pseudo-western cuisine for average $7 (spaghetti with fake red sauce, escalope in breadcrumbs with fries on the side etc) Please lah I'd much rather the wonton mee, claypot froglegs, stirfried horfun from the other stalls for less than $7!

rambo said...

thanks for the great collection.i like marine coffee too much

Anonymous said...

@Faeez where to buy frozen ramly chicken patty in singapore

Anonymous said...

the place looks gd and cozy....would like to know if its halal or the biz being run by muslim family..appreciate ur reply...(yan)

ieat said...

Yes it is Halal and run by a Muslim family although the owner is not Muslim.

Eater said...

They used plastic utensils to contain the hot food which in my opinion is not hygienic.

Jessica Tan said...

Went to the shop last Sunday after church services. I m afraid our experience with the food was quite a let down perhaps due to the high expectations. Our family eat nasi lemak regularly both in sgp n Malaysia, and I cook it too. The rice at kukus is perhaps the best part as its got right amount of coconut as most stalls in sgp either tries to skim it or be health conscious thus can be pretty weak, but we feel despite that, using basmati rice has a better bite. The dishes we ordered and we ordered everything there, were a let down, my curry chicken tigh was not fully cooked and we couldn't even cut through it. The omelette was really bland compared to the typical Malay style omelette which is chock a block w onions n chives sometimes. The fried fish was coated in batter and fried which in my opinion should be just rubbed w salt n turmeric and fried till crunchy. At the risk of sounding really negative, I won't talk about the squid etc etc. oh yes, the burger is not really that good either, the Malaysian ramly I had by the road side in Malaysia definitely better, sometimes to much work don't necessarily translate to better taste. We really looked forward to the dinner but our experience that night was a let down in terms of the food but we enjoyed our fellowship! I am writing this not to criticize the blogger's review as He has my upmost respect, I just wanted to share our experience, and I fully understand that my experience that night could be an isolated event and everyone has different tastes on what is good :). So again, we are thankful and glad for the opportunity to be there. Thanks for the review and sharing. God Bless.

Sanz said...

I was there with a friend last night and I must say the place didn't live up to the expectations. The best part of the meal was the fragrant rice and the rest were just average.

I agree with some of the comments saying that it's a very expensive place to eat nasi lemak. The bill came up to $17 for two...

Don't think I will go back again.

Anonymous said...

Went for a nasi lemak meal and paid $6.50! Wah lau eh! Expensive man! But I must say the rice and sambal are the best in sin-jiapor lah. I monkey-see, monkey-do and line up for the self-service... happy happy scoop alot of mutton and drumstick... then kenna pay alot. My girlfriend say actually not ex lah, take so much meat... not really nasi lemak, but nasi padang lah.
Actually quite true lah, nasi padang is now damn ex also.
But the makchik quite friendly leh... smile like I damn hamsome... she slowly explain the price, then still ask me to take freeflow rice and sambal! So I whack maximum kow kow.
Donno why, but the next 2 days, my chick and me still go back everyday leh... maybe rice got drugs lah! Shiok!
I say take the mutton rendang, ikan bilis, egg and sambal! $4.90, still can tahan lah... then whack the freeflow rice and sambal!
After that tahpow 1 time beef burger! Don't order the chicken... not so shiok.

Malcolm said...

I think the rice and sambal are good. Watch out for the spicy sambal though! Saw tay ping hui there... the staff seem to love him, but he still paid. Boss seems like a pink chain smoker... hope he's not the one preparing the food. Overall: much better then the chinese nasi lemak joints, slightly better then the malay ones. But still lose to my hometown joint in kelantan.

SL Tan said...

Came on Sunday 10pm, couldn't get a seat for 15 minutes. Parking problems too. Staff friendly and efficient. Food was glorious, but ikan kuning not done the way I like... too crispy. Their steamed rice is really much better then normal boiled rice, and the sambal is good.
I don't like the self-service style... prefer to be served.
Will come back, but only for late night supper when it's less crowded.
Ambience is nice, but music is way too loud. Boss should take note of these points.

SQ said...

thanks for the good effort in compiling this review. we're already regulars there and i'm a big fan of the power burger. you are spot on about the rice and sambal. it's the kind of frustration where i wish more people would know about this, but yet do not want to ruin a hidden gem.

Willeatanything said...

Can't understand all the grumblings about the price of the nasi lemak. It isn't your typical hawker stall kind of place (proper seating with air con, yadayada) and in this day and age, aiyah, what is $7? I thought the rice, fried chicken and sambal chili were real shiok. Admittedly the egg could have been better but I enjoyed the sotong and sayur lodeh too. I was happy making the trip there for my nasi lemak fix. Now if only there were open in the morning for brekker too...

Anonymous said...

I agree with Willeatanything. Friends, this is not a hawker stall. Rental for the entire shop cannot be cheap. So, how to expect our friendly neighbourhood nasi lemak stall to charge cheap prices?? The food is good. I would even say that the sambal and the fried chicken are very good.

The nasi lemak could be better if the owner used basmati rice but with a S$1 free-flow offer, how to justify this? So, we cannot have it all.

The egg could also be better. The Malaysians really do this very well. Crack some eggs into a large bowl, season with light soy sauce and pepper and pour into a hot work with a generous amount of oil. Scramble it around in the hot wok until roughly set (not overly) and remove. Voila! The current egg look a bit insipid. Please also offer us telur goreng mata lembu! Please!

Massive Eater

Belle said...

Hi,

I personally love the rice! Absolutely tasty but the sambals are kinda sweet... eventho there's a spicy one...it's still sweet to my taste bud coz i'm a fan of hot spicy sambal and cili padis...Lol...Heee

But i'll be back for the rice of coz... m loving it!

Thanks!

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