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Kuala Lumpur - Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa

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Nasi lemak is that ubiquitous Malaysian breakfast dish which one finds practically everywhere in KL - from road-side stalls to every buffet breakfast spread in hotels. Basically steamed rice infused with coconut milk & scented with the heady smell of pandanus leaves, served with an array of side-dishes like curries, fried egg/chicken/fish, spiced squid, deep-fried tempe (a kind of Indonesian fermented soycake), crispy deep-fried anchovies (ikan bilis), etc., nasi lemak is that quintessential Malaysian "national dish", perhaps the equivalent of what wanton noodles are to Hongkongers, chicken rice to Singaporeans and beef noodles to the Taiwanese.

So where can one find the BEST nasi lemak in KL, for that matter? Well, my personal choice would be Sakura at Jalan Imbi, and its offshoot, Madam Kwan, which has restaurant-branches in most malls, including upmarket ones like the Pavilion (Jalan Bukit Bintang) and the iconic Suria KLCC (at the Petronas Twin Towers). Sakura/Madam Kwan's version were incredibly coconut-rich, almost cloyingly so - the Malays call this trait "lemak", hence the name "nasi lemak" ("nasi" being the Malay word for rice). But Sakura and Madam Kwan's version, served with delicious chicken curry, hard-boiled egg, sambal ikan bilis (spicy chillied anchovies) & beef rendang, are prepared by Chinese-Malaysians. I wanted to try an indigenous Malay version, prepared by Muslim-Malays as nasi lemak is, after all, a native Malay dish.

The only way to do that was to sally forth into KL's last remaining Malay enclave left within the metropolitan area: Kampung Baru, literally meaning "New Village" - well, it was "new" when it was established in 1900. Today, Kampung Baru was ghetto-like, but still functioned as a bastion of Malay village lifestyle & culture in modern KL. Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa was oft-quoted by many Malays as serving the BEST Malay-style nasi lemak in KL. And it serves nasi lemak as a dinner & supper meal!

Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa's location & set-up belied its reputation - a non-descript road-side stall alongside Jalan Raja Muda Musa, Kampung Baru's main restaurant row. What tells you that you're at somewhere special is the long queue of mainly Malay customers, and the large vats of curries (perhaps 10 or more choice of curried dishes), plus side-dishes like raw "ulam" (Malay-style salads).

My choice was nasi lemak with fried turmeric-marinated chicken, curried chicken livers, a hard-boiled egg, crisp ikan bilis and slices of raw cucumber, with a very spicy sambal belacan sauce on the side. It was good, but not really as fantastic, drop-dead gorgeous as I expected. Still, for a taste of genuine nasi lemak a la KL-Malay-style, and with the environment to match, there's no beating Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa, really :-)

Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa

7C Jalan Raja Muda Musa

Kampung Baru

50200 Kuala Lumpur

Operating hours: 6pm till 4-5am.

 
 
 
 
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  1. Another Malay nasi lemak place I heard about is Nasi Lemak Cikgu in Kelana Jaya. My Malay friends in KL said it's better than Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa. Maybe you can try that and let us know what you think? I live in Penang, so only visit KL a couple of times a year at most, not enough time to explore all of KL's food spots.

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    1. re: penang_rojak

      Tried Nasi Lemak Cikgu a while back, penang_rojak. It's better than Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa, but *not* as good as the little packets of Nyonya-Chinese nasi lemak you seem to find every where in Penang, drenched with the ubiquitous sweet-sour chilli-tamarind gravy. Those are *THE* best!