Serangoon Nasi Padang at Bishan – Run by a Chinese family since 1983
I arrived at Serangoon Nasi Padang on a early Monday morning, hoping to escape the afternoon lunch crowd. Tucked away in a coffeeshop in Bishan Street 11, Mr & Mrs Tan has been selling nasi padang since 1983.
We can’t get enough of Nasi Padang – steamed white rice served with an array of pre-cooked dishes. The dishes are generally robust with spices and curries made rich with coconut milk, which made it very addictive. The whiff of mouth watering spices aroma could be captured even as I approached the owners at the stall. This usually means good news but I was agonized by the attractive and colourful range available. I was spoilt for choice and I wanted a taste of everything.
Back in the kampong days, Malay wedding would be held at open spaces where Mr Tan would help out. That’s where they learn how to cook nasi padang from their Malay neighbours. They started their first stall in Serangoon and later moved to Bishan in recent years, that explains the name of the signboard.
I got a chance to chit chat with Mr Tan. He said the choice of ingredients is important, and insisted upon using only the freshest ingredients. Even the coconut cream has to be freshly squeezed. They have got more than 30 dishes prepared daily, ranging from curry fish, grilled sotong, fried chicken to sambal brinjal, stinky beans etc. You pick what you like to eat but we know that isn’t always easy with the big selection. Therefore, we have narrowed down to some dishes that you need to try.
The achar has added orange (perhaps it was because during CNY period), hence it’s sweeter with the aroma from the oranges. The grilled sotong is tender and full of smokey aroma. The petai was not fiery enough, but had a good crunch with anchovies. The curry fish was drenched in thick and creamy gravy, which is good with rice. Not in the picture is a bowl of Lor (braising sauce) which we requested, and the combination of lor with curry is a perfect marriage in heaven.
One of the annoyances eating at a Nasi Padang place is that food is usually served cold. Over here, Mr and Mrs Tan cook the dishes in small batches so as to ensure the warmth of their dishes. Hence, you will always see either one of them busy cooking in the kitchen. We like that the food is reasonably priced and the staff friendly. Even though it is located in a non air-conditioned coffeeshop, it’s not too humid and still very enjoyable to have my nasi padang here.
We are in love with the homely ayam goreng (fried chicken), which is lightly spiced, tender and juicy on the inside while the skin was crisp and thin. There is a good turnover for this item, that’s why you always get it piping hot.
The gorgeously-coloured grilled chicken is perfect for us, which my eating partners prefer it much more than the deep fried version (I think otherwise). But I guess the magic was in the char-grill method. It intensifies the flavor and releases that attractive smoky aroma with a hint of lemongrass flavour. It went very well with their sambal belacan. The same charcoal grill treatment is applied also on the Ikan panggang but unfortunately, it didn’t elicit “wow”.
I was too engrossed with the mini banquet on my table that I didn’t realize I was missing out rendang in my nasi padang. Not sure if they sell it but I shall check it out the next time. The stall is not halal-certified but they practise no pork no lard policy. So they do get some regular Malay guests.
I really had a nice meal there and won’t mind going back again.Here’s a tip: arrive before noon if you want the option of choosing from the full menu.
Serangoon Nasi Padang
Address: Blk 150A Bishan Street 11, Singapore 570150
Opening Hours: 10am to 3pm, closed every Tuesday.
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