Nasi Padang 8789: Not the hidden gem I was hoping for

We all love a pleasant, happy-ending story but they can’t all be fairy-tales, can they? My colleague, Gillian suggested I cover Nasi Padang 8789 because she had passed it a number of times at 243 Cantonment Road Coffeeshop but hadn’t sampled their fare. I was intrigued— could this be one of those elusive hidden gems?

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Reading up about the it, I could see the appeal of its backstory: a heritage stall run by an elderly couple who met each other in primary school, now married for close to 50 years. It had all the charm of a feel-good Hallmark made-for-TV movie.

Plus, the stall itself has been around for almost half a century— that’s an automatic guarantee of the food’s quality and taste, right? I was eager to try it out.

What I tried at Nasi Padang 8789

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I enjoy the versatility of nasi padang and there were no less than 21 options on display at the counter of Nasi Padang 8789.

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Asking for the chicken curry first, I received a pretty large drumstick and a ladle of the curry that looked quite appetising. I pointed at the tray of eggplant next under the assumption that Mr. Hee would give me a slice of one piece. However, he proceeded to place the entire 20-cm piece on my plate. Very generous.

Next, I got tofu, which I love, before rounding up my lunch spread with pineapple in curry for a touch of sweetness. I counted 12 pineapple wedges in all, which is considerable. The whole meal cost me S$6.

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Tucking into the chicken, I found the meat to not be cooked so well. The flesh could have been more tender and flavourful and there was quite a bit of fat hanging off it. Looking for greener pastures, I moved on to the veggies.

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On the outside, the eggplant was well coated in gravy and made my mouth water. All that visual promise was broken as soon as I took a bite. It was practically uncooked. In parts, the eggplant flesh was almost as crisp as an apple. I was getting alarmed. This story wasn’t panning out the way I had hoped.

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My pineapple remained— usually, the saving grace of sweetness— but I discovered that while there were pieces aplenty, they were all very bland. The only flavour I could taste was the saltiness from the gravy, meaning that the pineapple itself was not sweet.

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Tasteless on its own, tofu absorbs and enhances the flavours of other dishes to enhance a meal. On this plate, it just had no ammo to work with and ended up standing alone as a tasteless piece of tofu. The entire meal turned out to be one huge disappointment.

None of this was helped along by the S$1.80 for a can of Coke from the drinks stall next door. Daylight robbery, I tell you, that too a stone’s throw from the Police Cantonment Complex just down the road.

Final thoughts

I was touched by Mr. Hee’s character. When I asked him about prices before ordering, he must have thought I was short of money and said, “For you, rice and 1 dish, $1.50 can.” After he scooped a bowl of rice out, he turned to me and asked if I wanted more. Damn, maybe I just look poor.

Watching Mrs. Hee sitting before the heat of the stove on 3 stacked plastic chairs, diligently working the wok while her husband dealt with customers at the front, I really wanted to give Nasi Padang 8789 a good rating.

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But the proof is in the padang. I visited at lunchtime and the bak kut teh stall next door was doing a roaring business with no less than 18 people in queue. Meanwhile, Nasi Padang 8789 was practically deserted. In the hour or so I spent there, fewer than 10 customers came a-calling.

My own experience of the food was quite underwhelming and I wonder if I should return for another try. After all, I did see over 20 different items on display but am basing this review on 4 of them.

Expected damage: S$1.50 – S$8.50 per pax

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Price: $

Our Rating: 2 / 5

Nasi Padang 8789

243 Cantonment Road, Singapore 089770

Price
Our Rating 2/5

Nasi Padang 8789

243 Cantonment Road, Singapore 089770

Telephone: +65 9853 0578
Operating Hours: 7am – 5pm (Mon to Fri), 7am – 2pm (Sat), Closed on Sun
Telephone: +65 9853 0578

Operating Hours: 7am – 5pm (Mon to Fri), 7am – 2pm (Sat), Closed on Sun

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