Fighting over which country makes the best Nasi Lemak has been a constant debate that never seems to get resolved.
Nasi Lemak has been a long perennial favourite among Singaporeans regardless of race. So I understand why we’re so territorial over our Nasi Lemak.
Question is, do we really know our nasi lemak? Are we truly the best?
Most of us have had Nasi Lemak from both Singapore and Malaysia, but have you guys tried Nasi Lemak cooked by an Australian guy?
And he’s definitely our new competitor.
Nasi Lemak For The Soul
SoulFood Catering has been around for the last 8 months but no one ever really paid attention to this humble shop located at Aliwal Street.
Meet Brett and his wife, Yani. They’ve been married for the last 5 years and they both run SoulFood Catering.
Now, my expectations for their Nasi Lemak was low because I’m a Malay girl and I KNOW my Nasi Lemak. An Ang Moh cooking Nasi Lemak completely threw me off because I was expecting a 50 year old makcik or auntie to serve me instead.
As I walked to the entrance, Brett flashed me a smile and warmly welcomed me with a question: “You ready to makan?”
Brett first discovered Nasi Lemak while on holiday in Malaysia. After multiple tries of recreating Nasi Lemak in his kitchen back in Australia, he was never satisfied with the outcome.
That’s where his wife and mother in law came into the picture.
“My wife and mak (mother in malay), are both great cooks. They’re amazing. One thing led to another, now we have this little shop in Aliwal.
“Everybody knows Nasi Lemak, it’s cultural. You just can’t go wrong with it.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Sugar, Spice, And Everything Nice
Unlike the typical nasi lemak stalls, SoulFood Catering offers a variety of Nasi Lemak. From your standard fried chicken wing to Barbecued Salmon, you name it, they have it all.
But what makes their Nasi Lemak special would definitely be the different ingredients that comes with it.
“Back in Australia, I used to enjoy a good barbecue. We’d grill meats and enjoy food with our friends.”
From chicken and prawns to salmon and scallops, they’re all barbecued fresh upon order.
The sambal however, is the star of this simple dish. We all know a good sambal makes or breaks a good plate of Nasi Lemak.
“Mak, makes the best sambal. Oh you have to try it to believe it!”, he exclaimed.
Yani laughed and added, “I haven’t learn how to make the sambal yet, but I know she’ll make me learn it soon!”
Singapore’s Next Top Nasi Lemak
The basic Nasi Lemak with Chicken Wing ($4) was definitely a game-changer.
As I took my first bite, I was left completely speechless. That sambal, was honestly love at first bite.
I haven’t met this famous Mak they fondly spoke of but I knew I have to meet her some day.
They gave me a generous portion of sambal which I was happy about as most sellers are quite stingy with theirs. The sambal was definitely spicy but it had a hint of sweetness which made it enjoyable and not jelak at all.
The chicken wing was coated in their own special batter as well. It was fragrant and incredibly crispy – just the way any good fried chicken wing should be. The recipe for their chicken wings took multiple tries before they finally settled on the perfect combination. I also liked that the outer coating was not too thick to the extent that it became overwhelming.
If you know your rice, a lot of stalls swap jasmine rice for basmati rice instead. Which just doesn’t give you the same satisfaction.
The rice is prepared in the shop and is the perfect balance of lemak and not being overly “mushy”. From the moment the rice is scooped from the massive rice cooker, your senses will be awoken. Mix the rice together with the sweet and spicy sambal and that itself can be a meal on its own.
Next up, I got the BBQ Prawns Nasi Lemak ($8.90) which comprises of the standard coconut rice, fried ikan bilis, a fried egg, a generous dollop of sambal and of course, 4 juicy prawns that are barbecued to perfection.
This one took about 5-10 minutes of waiting time. Smoke started to fill the shop as Brett was manning the barbecue station in the kitchen. He placed the prawns on the grill and covered it with a lid to ensure that the prawns are evenly cooked and contain all that smokey flavour.
Once that was done, he glazes them with his special sambal oil which gives it that fiery red colour.
I know we’re all lazy to peel our prawns but this is one dish that is worth getting your fingers dirty for.
Saving the best for last, the BBQ Salmon Steak Nasi Lemak ($9.90) was the one I was most excited for.
You’ll have to wait at least 20 minutes for the salmon but rest assured, it’s definitely worth the wait.
He first seasons the salmon with salt, pepper and mixed herbs before throwing it on the grill. Just like the prawns, he covers them with the lid so you’ll get that extra smokey flavour.
He then glazes the salmon with the sambal oil for the extra kick.
Despite being on the grill for about 20 minutes, the salmon was perfectly cooked throughout and best part, the skin was crispy as well. Safe to say, I had a real good food coma afterwards.
Atmosphere at SoulFood Catering
To sum up their entire menu, it would definitely be “Australian Meets Singapore Nasi Lemak” – and I’m all up for it.
It’s not your traditional everyday nasi lemak but this is perfect if you want an upgrade from your usual Changi Village Nasi Lemak.
The space may not be ideal for big groups but it’s definitely a great option if you prefer to dabao your lunch instead. It gets a bit hot and stuffy when they start grilling as the space is not big but there are a couple of seats outside for you to enjoy your meal.
The shop may often be overlooked as they’re located on the quieter part of Aliwal street but this shop definitely does not lack in character and flavours.
The next time you’re in the area, drop by SoulFood Catering for your Nasi Lemak fix.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think the Australians won this time round.
Address: 77 Aliwal Street, Singapore 199948
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri: 8.30am – 8.30pm, Sat: 10.30am – 10.00pm, Sun: 10.30am – 8.30pm, Closed on Tuesdays.
Contact No.: 8767 8299
(Header Image Source: Discover SG)