One of the best places in Singapore to try nasi lemak is at Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak at the Adam Road Food Centre. While you can find nasi lemak all over Singapore, none are more famous than Selera Rasa, also referred to as Adam Road Nasi Lemak.
So what is nasi lemak? At the core of nasi lemak is a fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf. The rice is often served with various sides including fish, chicken, eggs, and cucumbers.
The Prime Minister of Singapore, Sultan of Brunei, and celebrity chefs have all visited this small, unassuming food stall over the years. So when I was in Singapore, I knew I had to give it a try.
If there’s one thing you should know about Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak is that the secret is out. No matter what time you visit, you are going to have to wait in line.
I waited around 30 minutes on my visit during the week. On the weekends, you might have to wait up to an hour. But the wait is worth it.
While I was waiting in line, I took a peak into the small kitchen manned by two men in black shirts. I couldn’t believe how much food they were pumping out. Not only were these chefs making food for everyone in line, but they were also doing endless to-go orders. The operation was impressive to watch, especially for such a small space.
Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak Menu
As you wait in line, you’ll have plenty of time to go over the menu which was posted above the stall. Dishes ranged in price from S$2.90 to S$5.90.
There was something for everyone on the menu at Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak. You had your choice of seven different meals. Each meal came with rice, sambal, an egg, and cucumbers. You then had the option to add a chicken wing, fish, otak-otak, or all of the above.
Royal Rumble Nasi Lemak
If you’re hungry and want to try everything, go for the Royal Rumble (S$5.90 or about $4.29). This filling dish included rice, sambal, fried chicken, fried egg, fried anchovies, otak-otak, and sliced cucumbers.
The most important component of any nasi lemak dish is the rice. What made the nasi lemak at Selera Rasa stand out from the rest was the basmati rice. Basmati is a more expensive and higher quality type of rice with long, slender grains. Other places tend to use a less expensive variety such as jasmine.
To prepare the rice, pandan leaves, a type of palm tree common in Southeast Asia, along with lemongrass, were added to the pot. The pandan leaves added a unique herbal fragrance to the rice while the lemongrass added a citrusy flavor. The backbone of the dish, coconut milk, was added just before adding the rice. The rice was then cooked for 30 minutes and stirred for another 10 minutes until fluffy.
I couldn’t believe how fluffy and light the rice was. It was cooked perfectly. Each grain of rice was unbelievably fragrant after being infused with sweetness from coconut milk and aromatics of the pandan leaves and lemongrass.
Another crucial component of nasi lemak is sambal. Sambal is a type of spicy chili paste common in Southeast Asia. The sambal at Selera Rasa was made fresh using chili peppers imported from India. The deep red sauce was not only spicy and salty but sweet. It was like a smoky, spicy chili jam. The spicy sambal was best mixed with the coconut rice, but honesty, it tasted good on everything or on its own.
In Indonesia, nasi lemak is usually served with fish. In Malaysia, chicken is more common. With Singapore located between both countries, Selera Rasa decided to offer fish and chicken.
I enjoyed how crispy and crunchy the chicken wing was. Before being deep fried, the chicken was dipped in batter. Exactly what was in this batter was a closely guarded secret. While the crust was crunchy, it was very greasy and rich, so make sure to grab a few napkins. It wasn’t the juiciest chicken I have ever had but the meat was tender and delicious. I really enjoyed the difference of textures between the crispy crust and tender chicken on the inside.
I didn’t think I would enjoy the fried anchovies, or ikan bilis, but these things were great. They were extremely crispy and crunchy on the outside after being lightly fried. Even though they were fried, and salted, you could taste all the delicious fresh flavors of the fish.
Underneath the fried anchovies was a larger piece of fried fish. I’m not sure what type it was. This fish wasn’t as crunchy as the anchovies and had a lot of bones. It wasn’t my favorite.
Wrapped inside a grilled banana leaf was a fish cake known as otak-otak. The fish cake was soft and moist with the texture of custard. The salty fish had a wonderful smoky fragrance after being charred in the banana leaf. I could also taste some sweetness, probably from the coconut milk, along with with spiciness.
Finishing off the plate was a lightly fried egg and fried potatoes. The rich egg was golden and crispy on the outside. I was hoping for a runny yolk. Though not dry, the yolk was cooked all the way through. The potato was somewhat strange, almost like hash browns. It was like they took mashed potatoes, battered it, and then deep fried it. It was tender on the inside but not too crispy on the outside. It was tasty, though.
There is a reason why Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak is a household name in Singapore. It’s because they serve the best nasi lemak in the city. It’s why you will find a long queue from the moment they open until they close.
If you want to sample a little of everything, I recommend the Royal Rumble. Not only was it filling and affordable, but it was delicious. What stood out was the fragrant rice, crispy moist chicken, spicy sambal, crunchy anchovies, and moist otak-otak.
If I lived in Singapore, I could see myself eating nasi lemak everyday for breakfast.
- The best nasi lemak in Singapore
- Great variety of options to choose from on the menu
- Large portions
- Wait of 30 to 60 minutes is not uncommon