Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Nasi Lemak : A Taste of Singapore

As we love to travel around Asia, Paul and I have grown to appreciate the different cuisines that each Asian country offers. From the flavorful dishes of China to the cold fresh sushi of Japan and lastly to the herb-infused meals found in any Southeast Asian country, we enjoy trying and tasting each local cuisine as we believe that it is the best way to understand and educate ourselves about the country's culture.

Here at home, we find comfort in a bowl of Tinolang Manok or a plate of Kare-kare with Bagoong. Nothing makes our day brighter by enjoying a meal consisting of any of our Filipino favorites plus a cup of fragrant white rice.

Aside from the Philippines, Singapore is one country that's very close to our hearts. This was one reason why we both agreed to fly off to Singapore for our honeymoon and to spend a week exploring the different sights and meeting up with old friends. We loved the peaceful and orderly system of this small country. Nothing also beats the experience of dining in any of their hawker centers. We love Singapore so much that we promise to visit it at least once a year.

Whenever we're not in Singapore and we crave for any of our hawker favorites, we always have Nasi Lemak to run to. In every visit to this restaurant, we enjoy trying different menu items that makes for a wonderful discovery. I mentioned about trying and loving their Kueh Pai Ti during my first visit and enjoying the Crispy Baby Squid on our second visit, now let me tell you about our latest dining experience that truly made for a memorable lunch date.

I love joining contests and I couldn't just ignore one that was created by Nasi Lemak over their official facebook account.

It was a guessing game about Angel Aquino's favorite Nasi Lemak dish and it began with only two clues:
CLUE 1: Its flesh is white.
CLUE 2: Angel could not stop eating that dish.

My initial guess was the Hainanese Chicken Rice but after following the 6 other clues posted over the succeeding days, I concluded that it must be the Fish Head Curry which was also a popular choice in Nasi Lemak. Guess what, I won!! I was so happy to be awarded with a gift certificate for a free Fish Head Curry that I can enjoy myself! Yahoo!!

So for lunch one Saturday, Paul and I found ourselves craving for our favorite Singaporean dishes and off we went to Robinsons Galleria to dine at Nasi Lemak. It was also good timing for me to claim my free Fish Head Curry.

We began with an order of our favorite Kueh Pai Ti (Php. 180/ 5 pieces). I just love this appetizer. The rule is for you to pop the whole thing into our mouth after adding a few drops of sweet chili sauce. Sensing how much I love the Kueh Pai Ti, HK, the owner of Nasi Lemak, promised to teach me how to make it! (Looking forward to it HK!)

I was able to try the Carrot Cake (Php. 150) during our trip to Singapore last year. Unlike our local Chinese radish cake that's served in blocks, the Singaporean version is sliced into thin strips and sauteed with beans sprouts and soy sauce. When done properly, it makes for a wonderful meal partner or an afternoon snack. I've tried a number of version here in Manila and sadly, none has done it right. However, I was pretty confident that Nasi Lemak would do a better job and upon seeing their Carrot Cake served on our table, I was glad my assumption was right! Even Paul enjoyed this one as we specifically requested for them to hold out on the chili. It has a light sweet-salty flavor that goes well with rice. I believe that there was no meat added to this dish to making it perfect for vegetarian diners.

HK convinced us to try their Salt and Pepper Squid (Php. 210) and told us to have this with some pickled chili. I eyed the chili with fear as I really am not a fan of anything spicy. With a reassuring voice, he just told me to go for it and to give it a try...to which we did. Following his careful instructions, we got a piece of crunchy squid and place a small piece of pickled chili on top, we were told to eat this with rice as the chili's taste can be a bit overpowering. We did as told and it was very good! So good that we requested for another saucer of pickled chili. HK was right, it was not spicy at all instead it brought out a different flavor that makes the Salt and Pepper Squid even more interesting. Paul finished off this dish and told me to take note of this as we will definitely be ordering this on our future visits.

Finally, the highlight of our meal was served. The Fish Head Curry came in a huge pot making this dish good for a family of 4-5. We had enough rice set aside to enjoy this spicy dish. I, on the other hand, also armed myself with a glass filled with ice cold water. However, I should have had a glass of cold milk instead. The curry was very fragrant and the fish meat was tender. However, I just couldn't ignore my burning taste buds that has been put on fire by the fiery hot chili. Paul, the brave soul, took up his anti-spicy courage to finish the fish head. It was so good that he totally ignored the fact that he had already drank 3 glasses of water in just 5 minutes. I watched him in awe as he was busy concentrating on the delicious fish. With the fish head totally cleaned out, we requested to take home the curry sauce. HK also gave us tips on how to re-use the sauce and which type of fish we should look for. We thank him for being so generous and made plans already on when to serve this to the family.

To cap off our wonderful lunch, we ordered a piece of the Choco Lava Cake (Php. 68) for dessert. When we met up with HK in Singapore, he was very excited about launching his new line of desserts in his restaurant and for only P68 a piece I told him that it really is a good deal. Despite feeling very full already, we couldn't help but take spoonfuls of the warm moist chocolate cake with melting sauce inside. Even Paul just kept on giving HK the thumbs-up sign as he was busy enjoying our chocolate-y dessert.

This is definitely a must-try and no meal in Nasi Lemak should end without enjoying their dessert.

Our lunch lasted for more than two hours but we truly enjoyed the wonderful company as we chatted with HK, the food and the delightful discoveries along the way. We can't wait to try the new menu items that HK told us he's currently working on. Will I be lucky and finally have my Lamb Biryani on the menu? :)

Nasi Lemak is located at the Ground Floor, Robinsons Galleria (beside Krispy Kreme), Quezon City. You may call them at 571-8988.

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