Local food these days is the furthest thing from boring – almost every dish that we know and love is getting a bit of an upgrade. VILLAGE Nasi Lemak Bar joins the ranks of the few eateries in Singapore that are elevating local cuisine, and doing it well.
The tastefully decorated space might just be the coolest new hangout spot on Circular Road. Or at the very least, the coolest restaurant in the area selling good ol’ nasi lemak.
Impressive murals don the walls, celebrating the merge of nostalgic kampung life with the new era of food appreciation. If local street food with a bit of a twist is what you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.
The eatery has gone all out to cater to the working folk in the area, boasting an automated ordering system that speeds up the whole process. While it only opened recently, VILLAGE Nasi Lemak Bar is already a hit with the lunch crowd, and you’ll want to drag your colleagues down to try the restaurant’s pride and joy.
Nasi lemak is the name of the game here, and you can choose from different combinations. If you’re looking for something closest to the original, try the Crispy Crumbly Chicken Wing Set ($7.80).
All sets come with the traditional accompaniments like coconut rice, ikan bilis, roasted peanuts, cucumber, egg, and sambal. The cucumber however, is taken up a notch – thinly sliced and pickled to complement the sambal, which I simply have to rave about. VILLAGE Nasi Lemak Bar’s homemade version was superb!
I’ve tried a lot of nasi lemak sambals in my day, and this was one of my favourites. The chilli had just the right spicy kick and sweetness that’s characteristic of nasi lemak sambals.
The biggest departure from the usual nasi lemaks that we’re all used to would be the inclusion of a sous-vide truffle egg. If you’re a fan of truffle, then you’re probably going to love this.
It’s obviously a personal preference but this runny egg worked better in my opinion because it gave that extra bit of oomph to the fluffy coconut rice and tied everything together.
Even though there’s only one chicken wing in the set, it was a pretty sizeable one and had a lot of meat on it. The rempah (spice paste) that coated the chicken before it was fried made it super crispy and fragrant.
If one just isn’t doing for you, order another Crumbly Chicken Wing at only $2.80.
The world of poultry is divided into camp chicken wing and camp drumstick, and if you belong in the latter, the Crispy Crumbly Chicken Drumstick Set ($8.80) will be more up your street.
As you can see, all the servings of rice are also topped with crispy bits of the rempah, similar to what you would get with a plate of ayam penyet. The added crunch makes all the difference.
The great thing about nasi lemak is that you can pretty much add anything to it or change the components here and there and it’ll still taste awesome. Try the VILLAGE Rendang Beef Set ($9.50) or the VILLAGE Rendang Mutton Set ($9.50) for something a little different.
In celebration of the recent St Patrick’s Day, VILLAGE Nasi Lemak Bar is featuring green coconut rice and a green sambal with the nasi lemak sets. The green rice is coloured naturally using pandan leaves and the green sambal uses green chillies instead of red.
That green sambal is a must-try, with a slightly more sour and spicy kick.
With all this talk about sambal, the ultimate set to try is the Spicy Sambal Sotong Set ($9.80). The best part? You get served a WHOLE sotong.
It’s nasi lemak galore everybody.
Nasi lemak is typically breakfast food and something you’ll want to have in the day. At VILLAGE Nasi Lemak Bar, the nasi lemak sets are served till 6pm, and then the menu switches over to tapas-style dishes.
And not just any kind of tapas – all the dishes were inspired by and include local flavours.
As you do with tapas, you should get some friends together after work and order a few dishes to share.
There are some very interesting ones to choose from like Asian Chicken Feet Glass Salad ($9, a la carte), White Truffle Japanese Edamame ($9, a la carte), Shredded Papaya Slaw ($8.50, a la carte) and Golden Chicken Pops ($12, a la carte).
I particularly enjoyed the Crispy Nonya Style Peanut Ikan Bilis/Anchovy ($8.50, a la carte) which I heard would go down really well with a glass of red wine. Instead of ordering a la carte, choose any three from this selection at only $25.
For a healthier snack to have with your evening drinks, order the Village Special Summer Roll ($10) which was a burst of flavour. Vietnamese-style spring rolls are packed with ingredients like shredded chicken, herbs, crushed peanuts and slices of Korean peach, creating a refreshing dish.
The Tangy Chilli Crab Sauce with Golden Bun ($10) is exactly what I would love to have with an ice cold Tiger beer. A chilli crab dip isn’t the newest thing in the food scene, but it still really hit the spot with those warm mantou buns.
Other tapas options include Golden Salted Egg Yolk Chix Mid Joints ($12) and Singapore Style Kueh Pie Tie (6 cups, $11). These are perfect for sharing and really highlight some local flavours that we all know and love.
My absolute favourite of the tapas selection though was the BBQ Grill Sotong/Calamari (whole) ($14). The sotong was so fresh and perfectly charred, and absolutely heavenly when dipped in the homemade sambal.
Tapas just isn’t the same without a few drinks and you’ll be glad to know that VILLAGE Nasi Lemak Bar is offering special deals in celebration of its opening. A full pint of draft Tiger beer is going at only $9, a half pint at $7 and the bottled Tiger beers are $8 each.
I mentioned that some of the tapas would taste even better with wine and the promo includes getting a glass of the house pour at only $9 across the board.
I can’t change the fact that most of us have to go to work from 9 – 5 every weekday, but here’s a little something to look forward to for lunch in the CBD, or for a bit of a break with some friends after hours.
Expected damage: $8 – $30 per person
*This post was brought to you in partnership with VILLAGE Nasi Lemak Bar