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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nasi Lemak Kukus

So I saw Gwen check-in at this place one night and I simply had to ask about it.
The premise was interesting - someone wanted to serve 'authentic' Nasi Lemak Kukus.
And they decided that the place to do it was at Upper Thomson.And they open late!

Now this place has apparently been around for quite awhile.
But obviously not as long as 7 years ago because I used to drive up and down that stretch of road during my NS days and I've never seen this place around.

So what exactly is the difference from Nasi Lemak and Nasi Lemak Kukus?
Well for Nasi Lemak, you cook the rice in the water (ie in a rice cooker) which what you'd normally get from your favourite stalls in Changi Village. But for the Kukus version, you literally do what the name says.
'Kukus' is Malay for 'Steam'. So this means that the Nasi Lemak rice is steamed instead.
Some will tell you that this is really the old-school traditional way of cooking the rice but people can't be bothered because it's so troublesome.

But does it really make a difference?
Well I guess you have to be the judge for yourself.

So my wife and myself plus two invited reviewers decided to pay a visit to Upper Thomson.

 The guy in the back and the girl on the shirt are not included

I remember that I've only had Nasi Lemak Kukus at one other place - a roadside stall in KL.
And just like that stall, Nasi Lemak Kukus here serves you Nasi Lemak with other side dishes as well.

They have quite a large spread of dishes to along with your Nasi Lemak.
From traditional additions like Bagedil (Potato Cutlet), Sambal Sotong and Rendang to some modern choices like Sweet and Sour Hotdogs. They also have a variety of veggie dishes to choose from like Sambal Bendi (Ladyfingers) and Sambal Longbeans.

According to the price list on the wall, it'll cost you $2.50 per scoop of a meat dish and $1.0 for a scoop of a vegetable dish.

But we didn't come here for all that.
We came for some Nasi Lemak Kukus.

Chicken Wing Set ($4.00)

Firstly, let me say that you could also have the Chicken Cutlet Set ($7.00) or the Dory Fish Set ($6.50) but I'm guess this is probably going to be a popular choice.

Secondly, let me say that the rice and the sambal are free flow!
That's right. If you were order any Nasi Lemak set or even if you order the plain Nasi Lemak rice ($1.00), it is as much as you can eat.
So if you're really budget or really cheapo, pay $1.00 and eat rice and sambal to the max.
(But no sharing allowed says them)

Thirdly, let me say that this Nasi Lemak Kukus is actually quite good!

Most people will judge Nasi Lemak Kukus based on 3 components.
1 - The rice. 2- The sambal. 3 - The chicken wing.

Now because the rice is steamed, it has a much more grainy texture than your normal Nasi Lemak.
For some that's nice but some people like my wife and Yana would tell you that it's too grainy for their liking.
But taste-wise it's actually very tasty!

They actually have 2 types of sambal (as you can see in the picture above.
The one at the top (on the cucumber) is the 'Sweet' sambal and the one at the bottom is the 'Spicy' sambal.
And this is where it gets confusing.

The 'Sweet' sambal is probably closer to what you'd get when you buy Nasi Lemak from Changi Village.
It's supposed to be slightly sweet but with enough chilli kick to enhance the flavour of the Nasi Lemak.
But in this case, it wasn't sweet. It wasn't even spicy.
The 'Spicy' sambal looked like it was gonna be damn hot with the chilli padi seeds all. And no doubt it was definitely spicier that its 'Sweet' counterpart but it wasn't THAT spicy at all.
In fact, I'd say that the 'Spicy' sambal was sweeter than the 'Sweet' sambal. Probably from the onions included perhaps?

And the part most people love - the chicken wing.
The chicken itself has a good crispy coating and was very satisfying in my opinion.
My bother kept saying that it had a strong taste of lime which no one else seemed to be able to place.
Well bro. You were right. Apparently they use Kaffir Lime leaves in the marinade.
Most people will probably enjoy this chicken wing. So if you want more, it's $1.50 per wing.

You of course also get Ikan Selar Kuning, cucumber, egg and ikan bilis/peanuts.
But personally, I think they should separate the ikan bilis and peanuts instead of putting them all mixed in one serving container. You end up with more peanuts than ikan bilis...

Put them all together and what have you got?
A pretty solid plate of Nasi Lemak lah!

Bandung ($1.60)

It is my duty to inform you that the Bandung I ordered was tasteless.
They should call it 'Pink Water with Evaporate Milk' instead. Totally a mistake there.

But... something interesting...

Vietnamese Drip Coffee ($2.50)

Don't be fooled by this small glass with a metal cap.
Dripping into the glass is a Vietnamese coffee blend. And boy is it powderful (geddit geddit).
My wife says it's "KAO-KAO!" and I concur. It's like the strength of 3 cups of coffee in one.

The coffee has a very very unique taste which is quite nice.
But it is indeed very strong so if you're not a coffee person you might wanna have the Bandung.
And if you're not a tasteless-water person you might wanna have something else.

Another interesting item being offered to compliment your meal is something called 'Ice Jollov'.

 Ice Jellov ($2.50)

It's described as "Home-made chewy pandan jelly noodles". It's paired with gula melaka and coconut milk on a bed of shaved ice. And that black mass on top - that's Pulut Hitam!

And this one was pretty unanimous - this dessert rocked!

The coconut milk was rich and the gula melaka gives you a sugar kick in the face.
The pulut hitam didn't do much for me (it was a hard clump) but I can see why they put it there since the coconut milk was present.
But what will really perplex you is the 'pandan jelly noodles'.

At first glance when the bowl arrives, you might think it's Chendol.
But upon further inspection - it is anything but.

This reminds me of (and basically is) the stuff you'd get at the bubble tea shop.
You know when you swap out the pearls for the coconut jelly (sometimes in flavours like apple etc)? Well this is that stuff but it's not in itty bitty pieces, it's in long strands ala noodles.
And they make quite a tasty bite! A must have!

And for those of you who are hankering for something other than nasi lemak kukus and dessert...

The have still set-up right at the entrance of the joint.
They sell a burger they call the 'Power Burger'.

Power Burger ($3.50)

That's the guy who makes the burgers by the way.
Keep him in mind cos I'll bring him up again later.

So how does this burger fare?

Let me say that if you're expecting a Ramly burger then you're on the wrong track. They make their patty from scratch.

You have a choice of either Beef or Chicken and it comes with cheese and mayonnaise and wrapped up in egg.

Okay so maybe it's just me or maybe it's because I was one of those people expecting a Ramly burger. But I was sorely disappointed by this burger. And I wasn't the only one.

I can appreciate that they make their own patty but somehow it seems to fall flat. And I'm not saying that just because it IS thinly flat okay.

And despite being thinner than a Ramly burger patty, it still wasn't cooked through.
Okay so maybe that was their intention? Keeps the meat juicy? Medium-well?
Well then they might want to re-think their strategy to be honest.

Okay lah maybe I'm being too hasty.
Maybe I should stop comparing this burger to a Ramly burger and maybe I'll think differently...

*thinks really hard*

No sorry I'm still not impressed with this burger.
$3.50 at least they could give me some chilli sauce or something. Might have helped.
Then only thing that the girls appreciated was that they used Gardenia burger buns.

And remember that guy making the burgers?
For awhile I thought maybe the guy got no skill or what... maybe if someone else was at the grill it'd make a difference. But apparently Gwen says that it was a woman at the grill when she went but the burger was still not that impressive.

And one last thing I have to mention.
It's very laid-back as it promises to be. Very good place to 'chill-lax' with friends over food and coffee.
But it's kinda campy. As in very close quarters.
You see that woman in white in the middle of the picture? Well my ass bumped into her as she was taking a bit of her chicken wing. So prepare for some of that if you're seated on the outer seats

Staff are super friendly and helpful which is a big plus.
But the location means those of us in the East will probably swing by only if you're in the area or you really bo-chup in the middle of the night and hungry.

PS there is an outdoor eating area as well which doubles as a smoking area but limited seats!

Adam's Verdict:
Nasi Lemak - 4/5 (Rice) -- 2.5/5 (Sambal) -- 3.5/5 (Chicken Wing) -- 3.5/5 (Overall)
Power Burger 0/5 -- Ice Jellov 4.5/5

Maryah's Verdict:
Nasi Lemak - 4.5/5 (Rice) -- 1/5 (Sweet Sambal) -- 3/5 (Chicken Wing) -- 4/5 (Overall)
Power Burger 2/5 -- Ice Jellov 5/5

Azlan's Verdict:
Nasi Lemak - 4/5 (Rice) -- 1/5 (Sweet Sambal) -- 5/5 (Chicken Wing) -- 3/5 (Overall)
Power Burger 0/5 -- Ice Jellov 4/5

Yana's Verdict:
Nasi Lemak - 4.5/5 (Rice) -- 5/5 (Chicken Wing) -- 3/5 (Overall)
Power Burger 2.5/5 -- Ice Jellov 5/5

The reckon the opening hours of this joint means it's gonna be quite a supper haunt.
And it's a nice place too. Definitely worth checking out.

Nasi Lemak Kukus

908 Upper Thomson Road
Tel: 82229517 (Reni)

Operating Hours:
1800hrs - 0300hrs
Closed on Mondays

Update (21 September 2012)

I have clarified directly with Nasi Lemak Kukus if they are certified Halal or not.
They have clarified that they receive their ingredients and food from Halal suppliers and all their staff are Muslims but they DO NOT have Halal certification from MUIS.

Please click on the following link for full details --


  1. i told you i tasted lime.... blimey the limey...

    PS.... no burger can ever EVER match amena burger in soi sansabai, Kathu, Phuket, Thailand

  2. Damn halal lor... Got halal chap all...

  3. It's NOT certified Halal.

  4. Thank you for the information.

    I was told it's Halal by the people at the shop itself but
    I'll do more checks and update this post with the information I receive.

    Thanks again.

  5. I believe they serve alcohol there right? I dont think that will help with the official halal certificate.
    my conclusion is that, its not officially halal.

  6. I had also heard this rumour that alcohol was part of their menu...
    But when I went there, there was nil alcohol to be found anywhere.

  7. Hi adam,

    your blog helps me so much cos I was searching for this stall when my friend told me about it. WH
    hen I typed Nasi Lemak Kukus on the net, the link to your blog pops up. Very informative. Will request for more thoroughly cooked beef when I visit for their burger. :)

    1. Hi Lily! Thanks for your comment!
      I'm glad that the information was useful!

      It's been quite awhile since we visited Nasi Lemak Kukus so I wonder if anything has changed since then. But I hope you have a great experience there! Let us know how much you enjoyed it okay!

      Happy eating and thanks for your support!

      Adam Shah
      The Halal Food Blog Team