Food Hero

Sinarnor Nasi Lemak still cooks on woodfire after 48 years!

by Honey Ahmad Photography FriedChillies on Thu, April 26, 2018

Sinarnor has been serving up nasi lemak and delicious dishes since the 70s. Read the uplifting story of this nasi lemak business that is now carried on by the 3rd generation...

Light up your life with Sinarnor's nasi lemak

Sinarnor started as a modest set up selling nasi lemak to factory workers along Jalan Chan Sow Lin. “My grandmother just spread her nasi lemak and dishes on the ground, this was in the 70s,” says Wati, the 3rd generation seller of Sinarnor.


Incidentally, Sinarnor is a combination of Wati’s grandmother’s name (Sinar) and her grandfather’s (Nor). So here’s the Sinarnor nasi lemak story… Its been 48 years.

Some plates of nasi lemak with the original stall in Chan Sow Lin

Her mother Kamariah who inherited the business from her mum recalls the early of days of following her mother around, carrying the nasi lemak up and down the street. They didn’t have a car in those days so it was either lugging everything on a bus or taking a kereta sewa. “If the driver overslept then we will not be able to sell for the day,” she reminisces.

Now Sinarnor has a whole selection of dishes for nasi lemak lovers

Her younger sister remembers those days too and how enterprising their mother was. “We brought a large kettle with us with tea mixed in. We stoppered it with a cloth. For those who wanted tea with their nasi lemak, we will pour it out in cups and hand it over the fence,” she said. There were many challenges but their mother was hard-working and tenacious. “The reason why we are here today is because she never gave up. There were 9 of us children so money was never enough. My mother got up everyday, cooked on a woodfire and sold nasi lemak without fail to add on to our father’s government income,” she adds.

Puan Kamariah still oversees the nasi lemak operations

Originally, they sold nasi lemak bungkus and then had one or two dishes such as rendang ayam and sambal sotong. As business flourished, they added more dishes and started putting up tables. Now they operate a proper warung and have two other branches. However, they keep the spirit of Sinarnor alive by still cooking everything over woodfire. That is the essence of their nasi lemak’s enduring deliciousness.

Wati had to learn to cook her family’s recipes on woodfire, she now runs the Kampung Pandan branch

“I did try to modernise the process by using a gas stove. Using firewood is hot work plus you have to source it daily. However the taste is just not the same. In the end what is important to us is the quality,” says Wati. In a week they buy about 350kg of firewood for cooking their dishes.

Sinarnor is a family affair, Wati’s brother also helps out at her stall

Wood imparts a smokey taste to the rice, enhancing the subtle hints of pandan and coconut. They steam it twice, first with water and the second time with santan which also helps to prevent the rice from turning clumpy.
Sambal is cooked gently for 4 hours so that it pecah minyak properly and then left to simmer to release their natural sweetness and aromatic properties.

Sambal here is sweet with a spicy edge

Opening for 48 years did not come without its challenges. When the price of beef skyrocketed in 2015, Sinarnor had to find an alternative dish to replace it temporarily to keep their prices affordable. So they came up with ayam masak merah which has now become a crowd favourite. Fried chicken is drenched in a sweet and spicy tomato based sauce. Their cooking method makes it thick and flavourful. “There is always a way to keep on going and serve your customers, our mother taught us that,” adds Puan Kamariah.

The superb ayam masak merah

It is obvious that Sinarnor is an eatery steeped in tradition from cooking right down to customer service. As you queue up for your nasi lemak, they dish it out efficiently and with a smile. We think it’s this consistency and respect for ingredients that gives this nasi lemak staying power. Address: Jalan 2/89c, Chan Sow Lin, 55200 Kuala Lumpur


McDonald’s Malaysia launched Nasi Lemak Burger and shall be available from 26th April till stocks last. This locally inspired burger is created to tantalize one’s tastebuds. Like the care Sinarnor puts in their sambal, McDonald’s Malaysia concocted a special sambal sauce for the Nasi Lemak Burger.


Don’t miss the chance to try out The Nasi Lemak Burger inspired by Malaysian’s love for nasi lemak. McDonald’s Nasi Lemak Burger is available at RM14.95 for an ala carte and RM16.95 for a medium set meal, that includes French Fries & a 100PLUS.

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