Go off the beaten path, they say, and you’ll find treasures abound. This rings so true when it comes to food, I believe. Often, it is the places that are off the beaten path, or aren’t anywhere commercial that yield precious delicacies for the curious foodster. Join Edwan as he discovers a nasi lemak stall in the middle of the city.
Always get the telur mata
(in front of a newly constructed, as yet unnamed hotel), Lorong Tiong Nam 1, Off Jalan Tiong Nam, 50350 Kuala Lumpur
Excellent, hot, fresh nasi lemak. Don’t forget your telur mata!
When you think about nasi lemak, there are thousands of stalls in KL alone, right? How many lie undiscovered, or aren't getting enough recognition? Beats me. I do think I've found one of the good ones though.
In an old taman perumahan, at the corner of Lorong Tiong Nam 1 and Jalan Tiong Nam, at the backroads of Jalan Raja Laut, lies a stall. The stall, Gerai V3 Corner (which I think is a hilarious, and very incongrous name!) is run by a family of four.
Among the office folk there, however, the gerai is more fondly known as "Makcik Buluh", although why that name stuck, I have no idea. There isn't a single bamboo bush in sight. Anyway, there's "Uncle" and Sani, who makes drinks, the daughter that serves, and Makcik Buluh herself, "Aunty", who every morning busies her self preparing breakfast for the office workers who almost exclusively make up the customers. And part of this breakfast spread is her nasi lemak (RM1.20)
And what a nasi lemak it is.
You order directly to the Aunty, who will gruffly ask you “Mau telur mata?” (fried-egg, add RM0.80sen to the price). To this question, always answer “Yes, please.” I’ll tell you why in a bit, but first, the nasi lemak. You can choose to have it plated, or ask for it to be wrapped up, which they’ll do in banana leaf and newspaper.
Now, the nasi lemak is always hot and fresh every morning. I prefer mine to be wrapped up in banana leaf and let it steam for a few minutes; the fragrance of the banana leaf ever so subtly perfumes the rice inside. Unwrap it, and you’ll see a generous portion of rice, with sambal, peanuts, ikan bilis and cucumber slices. Honestly, one packet will fill you up well into lunch time.
The rice is crumbly and tender, and though it is not as ‘lemak’ as one might think, the condiments more than make up for it. This is a nasi lemak where all the ingredients are in synergy with each other. The salty ikan bilis and peanuts add wonderful crunch, and the fresh cucumber slices give a burst of coolness. This is important, as the sambal is hot, wielding a deep, savory chili heat and flavor. Now remember the fried egg, and why I said you should always take up the offer of a ‘telur mata’ on top? It is because the eggs will be fried in-situ, and plopped onto your nasi lemak piping hot. The whites will be crunchy and crisped up just enough, while the yolk will still be liquid and runny. Break into the yolk and let the golden goodness ooze onto your sambal-fied nasi lemak. It’s a brilliant, delicious combination of textures and flavours, a perfect reason to indulge early in the morning.
The gerai gets customers as early as 7am, which is when the Aunty starts preparing her nasi lemak. Come early if you want the nasi lemak, as it runs out pretty fast, usually by 830. It is not unknown for some office workers to buy a dozen or more packets of nasi lemak just to tapau for their colleagues.
As I mentioned earlier, this gerai is virtually known only the people who work in the area, and the location isn’t really people friendly either. So, is it a treasure, off the beaten path? Maybe not.
But a damn good nasi lemak all the same.