Beef Bro Nasi Lemak, Sengkang — Of Nasi Lemak, Mentaiko Beef Cubes & ideals of morality

It’s 2.30pm and I find myself at the new Beef Bro Nasi Lemak at Compass One in Sengkang, sitting meekly in a corner of Kopitiam perched on the top floor of this neighbourhood mall, fresh off the back of a not-so-pleasing experience with the uber-expensive nasi lemak at Lemak Boys.

The Javanese boy in me is gutted, yet hopeful. My tastebuds (and wallet) are desperate for redemption.

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Beef Bro is known for their succulent halal Taiwanese-style blow-torched beef cubes, and I hear that they’re selling a Mentaiko Beef Cube Nasi Lemak (S$8.90) in their latest outlet. Now this, I have to try.

My visit came amidst a rocky past few days that have not gone too well for Beef Bro’s reputation—and it’s not because of their food standards.

Co-owner, Norvan Tan, is currently on trial for charges of molest and sexual assault, after an incident involving his younger sister’s childhood friend on one fateful Christmas evening in 2016. He had assaulted her in his sisters’ bedroom after she had returned extremely drunk to his family flat with his sister that night.

The internet world, unsurprisingly, went aflame, criticising and demanding comeuppance for the man and his actions. Some even went as far as to say that they will never patronise his outlets again.

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The people at Beef Bro quickly released a statement on their Facebook page yesterday (29 September 2020), stating that Norvan has since stepped down from the board while relieving himself of all official duties, and that their outlets will resume operations as per usual.

All the hullabaloo has gotten me in an inquisitive mood, and as I’m reading up on the articles, all I’m looking at are the nasi lemak pictures at this new standalone stall. Let’s see if this can be their saving grace.

What I tried

The Kopitiam food court is packed to the brim with office workers and Sengkang heartlanders as I arrived at the heart of lunch hour. I wasted no time in ordering the Mentaiko Beef Cube Nasi Lemak, and observed the chef prepare the beef cubes—first by placing raw cubes on a sizzling tabletop skillet, and then using a blowtorch to flame the cubes to perfection.

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The other ingredients, like the hotdogs and the cutlets, were pre-cooked and added onto the plate like any other ordinary nasi lemak stall, while the omelettes were freshly fried and then placed as a finishing touch to complete a ready plate.

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The menu attracted my curious, paparazzi-like, gaze. Other unique dishes include the Healthier Nasi Lemak With Brown Rice (S$5.90), Nasi Lemak Salmon (S$7.90) and Nasi Lemak Curry Chicken (S$6.90).

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After a long and arduous battle to find a seat for myself (no thanks to social distancing), I chance upon a solo seat and dig in—the rice in this Mentaiko Beef Cube Nasi Lemak is flavourful and fragrant, with a consistency that is not-too-sticky while the sambal has a sweet and mildly spicy tang to it. The rice greeted my stomach with a warm hello (and a big hello to you too, rice), and I’m quickly reminded of how famished I am.

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My fork and spoon worked around the plate non-stop, continuously feeding heaps of fragrant nasi lemak into my mouth. The star of the plate, the beef, is wonderfully juicy, tender, and simply praiseworthy—especially the fatty parts, which I absolutely adore and are such a joy to chew on.

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I’ve never had nasi lemak with flamed beef like this before, and I gazed in fascination at this fusion of two iconic, uniquely-Asian dishes—I wondered why this collaboration had not already happened a long, long time ago.

The marriage between the beef and the nasi lemak was delightful, and when paired with the mild flavours of the mentaiko sauce, it’s almost insatiable perfection. The dish proceeded to fill my tummy quicker than expected, however, as I paused to wash everything down with a nice, cool, glass of Coca-Cola.

I noted that all the individual components of this dish, like the rice, the hotdog, the beef, and the mentaiko sauce, combined to give a savoury and rich flavour to the entire meal. This can fill you up quickly, so if you really want to maximise enjoyment (and who doesn’t, am I right?), it’s best to take your time with it. I, like the fool that I am, went straight into it like a bullet train and ended up not finishing my plate because I was much too full.

Final thoughts

Come with an empty stomach—the meal is hearty and filling, so you’d want to make sure there’s room in your tummy prior. The stall is like any other mall food court stall, so it’s probably not the best place to bring a date if you’re trying to impress her (unless that’s your thing, in which case, you do you). That being said, if you’re a big fan of nasi lemak like I am, this version is definitely worth a try.

And so, the perennial dilemma: does the nasi lemak offer a second chance for Beef Bros’ badly-tattered reputation? Perhaps, but let’s be honest—there’s really nothing that can quite justify the gravity of sexual assault, even if the incident stands alone and separate from the business’ operations.

I left the food court with a satisfied tummy, but I’m unsure how to feel knowing that I had just eaten at an establishment of an accused sexual offender. I know one thing for sure though—their Mentaiko Beef Cubes are to-die-for, and that’s enough to warrant a second visit for me.

Expected Damage: S$6 – S$10 per pax

Price: $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Beef Bro Nasi Lemak

1 Sengkang East Drive, Compass One, #04-11 , Singapore 545078

Our Rating 4/5

Beef Bro Nasi Lemak

1 Sengkang East Drive, Compass One, #04-11 , Singapore 545078

Telephone: +65 84844359
Operating Hours: 7am - 10pm (Daily)
Telephone: +65 84844359

Operating Hours: 7am - 10pm (Daily)
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