Kuala Lumpur - Best Nasi Lemak in Town (?) versus Great Nasi Dagang
1) Village Park Nasi Lemak
Village Park Nasi Lemak must be the most-lauded "nasi lemak" spot in town - crowded almost round-the-clock when it opens daily (7am - 8pm). Pictures on the walls showed occasions when Malaysia's past & present Prime Ministers dropped by for a taste of Village Park's famous fried chicken (reportedly the tastiest in town), the aromatic "nasi lemak" and the to-die for "sambal"chilli paste.
Finally got round to visiting Village Park myself today and, true enough, the crowd was enormous! Definitely *not* a place to sit down for a relaxing meal, what with hungry patrons brushing past tightly-packed tables (lost count of the number of times I got nudged whilst sitting on my little stool), dirty floors and harried waiters who hurriedly (but efficiently) take your orders.
My "Nasi Lemak" came with the requisite fried chicken (a generously-sized chicken leg) which was nicely-marinated, crisp on the outside and juicy inside. It was better than good, but not something I'd lose sleep over. I also ordered the "Beef Rendang" which tasted a bit too salty, although my dining companion seemed to like it - she said it tasted very authentic, but I thought I couldn't detect the "daun kunyit" flavors, nor the rich texture from "kerisik". I guess KL "rendang" is different from "rendang" from other places (my fave ones where from Sumatera, Indonesia, and Kelantan, Malaysia). Sliced cucumbers, crisp-fried "ikan bilis" (anchovies) and half a hard-boiled egg completed my lunch plate. Best "Nasi Lemak" in Klang Valley/KL? Hmm, I beg to differ.
2) Hayaki Nasi Dagang
Anyhow, we then popped over a few doors away to Hayaki for its "Nasi Dagang" - semi-glutinous rice steamed with finely-julienned ginger, shallots, fenugreek seeds and coconut milk, then served with cucumber pickles, hard-boiled eggs, and a choice of either curried tuna or Kelantanese-style "Ayam Percik" (marinated & grilled chicken).
The environment at Hayaki was more genial than Village Park: spacious and with infinitely nicer & more comfortable furniture. The "Nasi Dagang" rice itself was delicious: coconut-rich & fragrant. We ordered two types of lunch plates - the tuna curry ("Gulai Ikan Tongkol") was very tasty, even if it's a bit salty, but the grilled chicken ("Ayam Percik") was an unmitigated disaster - it bore no resemblance at all to the delicious dish in Kelantan, but a coarse, poor substitute. There should be a law against calling something what it's obviously *not*!
I'd return here just for the "Nasi Dagang" rice, but nothing else.
P.S. - The drinks at both Village Park and Hayaki were disappointing - we ordered local coffee ("kopi tarek") and milk tea ("teh tarek") and, at both eateries, the beverages were very much watered-down.
Village Park Nasi Lemak
5, Jalan SS21/37
Uptown Damansara Utama
47400 Petaling Jaya
Tel : +603-77107860
1, Jalan SS21/37
Uptown Damansara Utama
47400 Petaling Jaya
Well, when the reputation of a place precedes it AND one has to work at it to even eat there isn't it a common occurrence for many folks to justify it by imagining the food tastes better than it really is? :-) Oh, that applies to high-end Western places too and other hot-spots (think: Next in Chicago, IMHO) where the ridiculous effort to get into a place or its cost renders it so "cool" that the hype precedes it rather than its reputation!
Oh well. As p_r wondered about above, one imagines you have eaten better nasi lemak elsewhere than what you got at Village Park?
I can't say I've eaten it much in the past in KL/M'sia - but I do remember enjoying the stuff I got at the corner kopitiam at Imbi Rd/Jln Barat (Win Heng Seng) on occasion in the mornings back in the day. :-) [Photo of the place as it looks nowadays: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/24230325]
Regarding the fried chicken - does its reputation include comparisons against stuff from all other stalls/places of any ethnicity or cuisine elsewhere in the area, or just within Malay cuisine?
Too bad about the ayam percik at Hayaki. Looking at pics of other ayam percik preps show quite a difference even just visually! I imagine one can get better ayam percik in KL?
So far, the best "Nasi Lemak" I'd had in Kl remained the one at Sakura, followed closely by those from its spin-off, Madam Kwan (the outlet at Suria KLCC (The other outlets weren't very good).
The fried hicken was a bit like Penang's "Inche Kabin" - spiced and somewhat coconutty (marinated in coconut milk?)
As for "Ayam Percik", I'm still searching for *one* place in KL where an authentic version is served. So far, no luck :-(
just wondering if you've tried Yati's at kajang or subang jaya. i know it's not in KL area. but like to know what your opinions were if you've tried it.
I had Yati's often as a child when they were made fresh at the night market in Kota Baru. Now it seems it is always pre-cooked and reheated.
You don't need to be a food scientist to know the results.
Thanks for the heads-up, betterthanbourdain, I'll have to check out those outlets. But your revelation that the KL counterparts of KB's legendary Yati pre-cooked then re-heat their stuff didn't make them sound too promising though.
Like you, I've had Yati's drool-worthy "ayam percik" freshly-grilled atop charcoal fires in the night market outside Pasar Pusat Buluh Kubu (now Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah) thru the years. I'd never been able to find good "ayam percik" (nor "nasi dagang") outside Kelantan, except when home-cooked by members of the far-flung Kelantanese diaspora - many of whom live in Singapore.
Interestingly, the best nasi lemak in Penang are all those little packets of rice with fish or prawns and a thin slice of hard-boiled egg, covered with a thin hot, sour asam gravy. My favourite one comes from Jelutong market, but you can get this everywhere in the morning.
In the old days, we can also buy nasi lemak cooked with some lentils and coloured yellow with kunyit.
Then, you have the Indian type of nasi lemak with very hot sambal belacan, ikan bilis, fried asam fish or asam prawns and egg, all wrapped in little packets using banana leaves and newspaper.
So, is Village nasi lemak really the best in KL in your opinion? Have you managed to try Nasi Lemak Cikgu which I mentioned before in http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/780271 ?