“OMG. It’s Madam Kwan serving me!” I got a bit of a pleasant disbelief when I saw Madam Kwan herself passing me the menu, complete with her signature grin, mole under her lips, specs and khaki-coloured hat.
It was really her.
“Thank you for coming. I hope you like our food.” She reminds me of my own grandmother, about the same height and has the same caring look. She is 80 this year.
I rattled off a few of Madam Kwan’s must-haves without looking, those which I have space for – Nasi Lemak, Nasi Bojari, Sambal Belachan Kang Kong, Otak Otak and Chendol. Until I noticed that the price was the almost the same as Malaysia’s, the only difference is theirs is in ringgit. Gasp. (Read: Review Madam Kwan’s in Malaysia)
Several fans would swear by the Nasi Bojari ($18.90), a Madam Kwan created dish of tri-coloured red-yellow-white rice with assam prawns, beef rendang and deep fried chicken drumstick. This is modified from an original Indonesia dish meant for royalty.
Wow. The entire combination is almost perfect, my only complaint is that it can get rather oily. The huge drumstick meat so lovingly tender-licious that simply comes off from its bones. I didn’t need to use hands. How does it even taste so awesome? Every mouthful gives you a slightly different flavour, the rice being both fluffy and dry at the same time (interesting combination), also well matched with the rendang. Give me more gravy please.
The Nasi Lemak ($13.90 in Singapore, $16.90 ringgit in Malaysia – argh, high rental) with aromatic coconut steamed rice with chicken curry, sambal ikan bills, dried shrimp floss, hard boiled egg, acar and cucumber is comparable in taste to Malaysia’s. Give me a blind test, and I won’t be able to tell the difference. Let hope it stays this way, not only because the owner is in.
While I probably had a better oilier more aromatic version of Nasi Lemak at some random stall in Malaysia, Madam Kwan manages to keep the standard consistent, and I liked that she has a variety of bite-sized side dishes as accompaniments. The only pity is that the chicken meats are too dry and tough to cut through.
Loved loved loved the Otak Otak ($15.90), a version where you can finally taste chunks of fish in its thick square slab without being too floury and ‘fake-tasting’.
Perhaps some may feel there is too much flavour somewhere. The Kang Kong ($10.90) was almost swimming in dried shrimps and oil. And the Chendol ($4.90) abundantly coconut-milky. I am not complaining.
Bill was over $80. Felt slightly faintly that the two persons paid so much for Nasi Lemak. Well, the dining ambience of Madam Kwan’s is much more pleasant at Vivocity. The branch at Malaysia was emm… a little noisy with floor full of shoe-print marks. You get what I mean. Will come back soon for its Fish Head Curry!