Before he moved to Canada, my friend SRM told me there was a little cafe at the Victoria Park Centro Shopping Centre (formerly known as “Heart of the Park”) that sold nasi lemak. Naturally, Jac and I just had to check it out. Last Saturday was the day – we stopped by for a nasi lemak brunch.
It’s called Mak’Indos Cafe, and it’s located at the Duncan Street entrance of the shopping centre. We were warmly greeted upon our arrival by the smiley lady behind the counter whom we recognised instantly – she used to run the Indonesian stall called “Sarindo” at Spencer Village in Thornlie! (We know for sure, as we asked her and she confirmed it!) . They have a good range of dishes to choose from, including nasi biryani (yellow rice served with curry), mee bandung (egg noodle soup with meat, vegetables and egg, served mild or hot), satay chicken, oxtail soup, fishball soup, gado gado, mee goreng. In the bain marie they also have a selection of curries (beef rendang, chicken curry and lamb curry) and sayur lemak (vegetables cooked in curry and coconut milk) that you can buy in a combo (AU$8.00 for 1 meat and 1 vegetable dish; AU$9.00 for 2 meat and 1 vegetable dish). It all looked really good, but we were there for one thing only: nasi lemak.
For AU$8.00 you get rice topped with fried shallots, a deep-fried hard-boiled egg topped with sambal, a couple of slices of fresh cucumber, ikan bilis (fried anchovies) with peanuts, and a tumeric fried chicken drumstick.
The verdict? The chicken was delicious – the golden skin was tasty, the meat tender. The sambal was nice, with a bit heat to it – Jac liked it because the belacan component wasn’t too strong (I secretly think she’s developing a taste for it!). The ikan bilis was really good, I don’t know what was different about it – usually I don’t think much about ikan bilis, it’s just one of the components of the dish – but those little fried fishies were among the yummiest I’ve had. I was a little disappointed with the rice – it had practically no coconut flavour. I don’t know if that’s the way it always is, or if they’d made a mistake and served us plain rice instead of nasi lemak, or if the cook had made the nasi lemak rice minus coconut by mistake, or if they’d run out and served us plain rice hoping we wouldn’t notice (hah!). If we hadn’t known that coconut rice is an essential element of nasi lemak (well yes, how else would the nasi be “lemak”? but if we weren’t aware of what “lemak” meant), we would’ve liked this dish anyway – everything was delicious and went very well together. I think I’d like to return and try the nasi lemak again to see if the rice is the same. (Yes, I know we could’ve just asked, but I really don’t mind eating it again as it was really enjoyable, coconut rice or not. Having said that, it’s probably not the best value at $8.00). I’d like to try some of the other dishes too, including the curries in the bain marie, which looked well worth a taste.
You can also buy a smaller, simpler takeaway version of nasi lemak on Saturdays – nasi lemak bungkus, wrapped in brown paper – for AU$4.00.
Thanks for the great response to the lunch bag giveaway/exotic food question! You guys have eaten some very interesting things (you should check out the comments for that post if you haven’t already, it’s fantastic reading)! Entries for the giveaway close on 4 October.