The next time you walk past basement 4 of ION Orchard, do not be surprised if you see another long queue stretching from the corner shop unit.
Not for another food fad, but good old humble Nasi Lemak and Teh Tarik.
CRAVE houses both the popular Adam Road Nasi Lemak by Selera Rasa, as well as the Amoy Street Teh Tarik by Rafee’s Corner in the same place.
Two local hawker delights in an upscale shopping mall? Why not? (Other than ION Orchard, Hougang Mall, Bedok Mall, Waterway Point and the latest addition of Parkway Parade are where you can find CRAVE.)
Selera Rasa’s Nasi Lemak
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong served this Nasi Lemak to Indonesian President Joko Widodo when he was here in Singapore; the Sultan of Brunei would request this frequently whenever he visited Singapore.
A normal Nasi Lemak set would be between $4.90 and $5.90 (good to know it is still possible to get cheap and good food at Orchard), while a Royal Rumble with Chicken Wing, Bergedil and Kuning Fish is at $6.90. Top up $1 for Otah Otah.
So what is the “secret to success”?
The current owner attributes it to the family recipe that emphasizes on the 4 key ingredients: basmati rice, sambal chilli, chicken wing and otah otah.
That is a type of rice variant commonly used in Biryani, but not that typical for Nasi Lemak. The longer rice grains supposedly absorb water but do not become overly wet. Perhaps for reason of habit, I would have preferred fluffier shorter grain rice.
The winning element to me was the Sambal Chilli, specially cooked with both Indian and Japanese chillies.
The story goes that the owner’s grandmother wanted a less spicy version of the chilli to cater to more customers. Thus, the store created this sweet-savoury-spicy version of sambal that just elevates the taste of the crispy fried chicken wings. So sedap, can?
In the end, I finished three pieces of Otah Otah on my own. The fillings made with ground mackerel fish meat was so moist and fresh-tasting, and grilled on the spot in the store itself. (I also spotted the diner next to me order Otah and nothing else!)
The Bergedil was also yums.
Rafee’s Corner Teh Tarik
If you are a loyal customer to Amoy Street Food Centre in the past, you might have seen Raffee’s Corner serving fragrant smooth Teh Tarik. The stall is no longer at Amoy though.
Owner of Rafee’s Corner Mohamed Rabeek mixes and matches different types of tea dust to create his own unique version. A cup of Teh Tarik or Teh Halia goes for $1.80, while an iced version is $2.20.
I liked that there was a strong tea taste without being overly siap-siap (bitter), and not thoroughly sweet. In fact, it was one of those occasions I didn’t need to ask for siu-dai (less sugar) for the iced version.
To note that the line during lunch time can get rather long, and thus also difficult to find seating space in the cramped area. So I would advice, if possible to go during off-peak hours.
It is heartening to see hawker stalls entering shopping malls and finding support. Plus, CRAVE has managed to keep prices affordable. Will return for more wings with power sambal chilli.
CRAVE @ ION Orchard
Ion Orchard #B4-58/59, 2 Orchard Turn Singapore 238801
Tel: +65 6238 7181
Opening Hours: 9:30am – 9:30pm
Other CRAVE outlets
Hougang Mall #B1-11
Bedok Mall #B2-22
Waterway Point #B1-K7
Parkway Parade Basement 1 Food Republic Stall 18 (10am – 10pm)
* This entry is brought to you in partnership with CRAVE.