Feb 1, 2012

Nasi Lemak Marvellous

Nasi Lemak Marvellous in Bukit Indah is known for their teensy packages of this Malaysian favourite. Tiny in stature but huge in popularity this family-run business is helmed by Pakcik Abu and his wife Makcik Yasimah. His wife does most of the cooking while Pak Abu and his son manage the restaurant. They started with a small stall in 1997 and relocated to their current location in 2003. Most people opt to tapau their Nasi Lemak for small gatherings or to eat at home. One guy even ordered 200 packs for an event. I prefer to dine in. Their packs are so cute that I finish my first one in a couple of minutes. Rule of thumb is 2 packs per person and you eat them on their own or with the lauk. I definitely recommend the latter. In my opinion, it’s the lauk at Marvellous that sets them apart from other nasi lemak joints that I frequent.


The taste of the nasi lemak here is similar to what you probably ate in your school canteen. Sambal is mild and rice is infused with a hint of coconut. This is fine by me because the accompanying dishes are the ones that seal the deal. The best lauks here are the Ayam Masak Merah and an unnamed beef dish which is like a hybrid of dendeng and rendang. (When I asked Makcik Yasimah for the name of the beef dish, she just said,”Takde nama. Ni resipi bantai jer.”- “I don’t have a name for this dish, it’s a recipe I got when I just mixed random stuff together.”) So the beef dish for the purpose of this review should be dubbed Daging Bantai Jer. Other lauks sold here are paru, sambal sotong and fried chicken.
Let’s start with the Ayam Masak Merah. It’s such a popular order that it usually is the first one to run out every night. Chicken pieces are fried first then cooked slowly in a tomato based gravy. This reminds me of the Ayam Masak Merah that I get in Kuching. Not spicy but more sweet and less tangy than the usual Peninsular version. Makcik Yasimah also puts in a lot shallots and onions. Shallots are blended in the gravy and onion slices are added last into the mix so you get lovely caramelised onion rings along with the chicken. The sticky and thick gravy cling to each chicken part perfectly so you can mix it in with the rice.

Next is the Daging Bantai Jer. Beef slices are boiled, then pounded and cooked with shallots, garlic and onions. I actually thought that it was dendeng but the beef slices are bigger and no lemongrass are added in the recipe. Soy sauce is used to sweeten and brown the meat. Daging Bantai Jer's gravy has a thick consistency quite similar to rendang. The difference is in the absence of kerisik so it doesn't have the smoky coconut taste that's usually associated with rendang. It is absolutely delicious and a definite must-try if you get a chance to dine here.

Another specialty at Marvellous is the Mee Udang. Egg noodles are cooked in a briny seafood broth served with prawns, celery, carrots and fried shallots. The portion is generous but I would have liked it if the broth was thicker. You can order this if (gasp!) you're not a Nasi lemak fan.

They say that imitation is the best form of flattery. If people start to copy you then it's a sign that you've made it. This is what happened with Marvellous. It is so famous that various stalls have been using their name to sell nasi lemak as well. Pakcik Abu is quite surprised when customers start to ask him about his other branches. In actual fact, there's only one true Nasi Lemak Marvellous and it's this one. Ask any of the Bukit Indah residents and they'll tell you the same thing. With more than ten years in the business, this is the real McCoy so beware of imitations. 

Time and time again I find myself here even though there are many other options in the area. After so many visits here I realized the reason. Pakcik Abu and Makcik Yasimah put in one of the most essential thing into their food. They keep it simple, cooking just enough so they can still maintain the quality. What most places these days lack is the rare ingredient that Pakcik Abu and Makcik Yasimah instill in their cooking. That rare ingredient is sincerity. This quality is often neglected but once in a while you uncover it in places like this. That's why customers stay loyal to this place. Nasi Lemak Marvellous have survived the years because they've retained the sense of sincerity and steered clear of being too commercial. You can taste their love in every grain of their rice.

from friedchillies

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