Nine Spices, Choa Chu Kang — “Nasi Rempah” that’s truly bang for your buck

I find myself in the heart of Choa Chu Kang, today being the first time I’ve taken the Choa Chu Kang LRT in my 27 years of living. As an eastie, these parts come to me as unfamiliar territory, but it is for new experiences like these that I find myself so appreciative of this job. Tonight, I am destined for the newly-opened Nine Spices.

Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4 radiates a humble, heartland energy, and Block 302 sits right in the midst of tonight’s buzzing crowd. Nine Spices opened recently in the popular 24-hour CCK Food Court at Block 302, and from afar I can already see that it is overflowing with customers. I arrive slightly after dinner time, and to my dismay, every single table is occupied, while those that are not, have little pieces of tissue paper packets sitting on the tabletop.

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It takes me slightly less than an hour before I find a table for two, after which I quickly make my way towards the stall that is conveniently positioned right in the dead centre of the coffee shop. Nine Spices pride itself in its nasi rempah, which means ‘Spiced Rice’ when translated directly from Malay—it is a unique marriage of briyani and nasi lemak, and I simply cannot wait to try.

What I tried

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Cooked in a pressure cooker, the basmati grains of the Nasi Rempah (S$3.90) are well-seasoned with nine spices which include star anise and cinnamon, giving it a fragrant and flowery taste. The well-fluffed rice comes with a crispy chicken drumstick, two cherry tomatoes, achar and a hard-boiled egg—and to be honest it couldn’t have been more perfectly portioned.

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The rice-to-chicken ratio is just nice, and at its price point, provides for the perfect quick lunch or dinner bite for one person. The Singa Rice (S$3.90), which is similar to the Nasi Rempah but with white rice instead, takes its inspiration from the colours of the national flag—the vivid scarlet of the sambal and the cherry tomatoes shining starkly against the white rice.

The sambal in both dishes is mildly spicy with a sweet tinge to them, reminiscent of traditional Chinese chilli oil. The chicken also has a delightful, crispy skin, with the insides tender and well-cooked which somewhat reminded me of KFC.

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For a noodle option, I order the Mee Rempah (S$3.90)—though these noodles are not as flavourfully-spiced as its rice counterpart, and instead closely resembles lor mee, but with the addition of the signature drumstick and served with bak choy. The noodles sit in a soy-based gravy, which lends a smooth and wet texture that balances well with the dry crunchiness of the drumstick.

One teriyaki-glazed Chicken Yakitori (S$2) and Crabmeat Yakitori (S$2) do well as an addition to my meal—the meats well-sauced and packed with sweet and tangy teriyaki goodness.

The leaves of the Bak Choy (S$1.90) are crunchy and juicy, and further adds a Chinese touch to the amalgamation of Indian and Malay influences on my table. I find the vegetables delightful to chew on, each bite juicy and oozing with a burst of soy-sauce.

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Elsewhere, there’s a plate of Tofu Fries (S$1.90), which are strips of fried tofu dressed with chilli sauce and cucumber—much like what you’d find on most mamak-style dishes. The tofu, unlike those that you find in more traditional mamak-style rojaks, is not too oily and makes for a great snack.

Desserts come in the form of the Rosie Mochi (S$1.90), which is soft, chewy and has hints of bandung in its taste. According to the owner, the Mochi can also able to be refrigerated overnight without turning hard, and is a testament to a formula that he’d perfected over time.

All in all, though I find the dishes to be very tasty and an interesting mixture of Indian, Malay and Chinese cuisine, the rice could have been better enjoyed with gravy, for at the moment it comes on the slightly drier side.

Final thoughts

Coming from an engineering background, the owner tells me that he has put spent much thought into the preparation of his dishes, opting to use pressure cookers instead of conventional cooking methods to give his dishes added taste with more nutritional value, making the rice grains easily separable and less clumpy.

Nasi Rempah is Nine Spices’ way of bringing something new to Singapore’s already-diverse food scene. It merges three cuisines together, giving them a truly unique and local identity. It’s portioned just nice to fill your stomach but not leave you bloated, unlike traditional briyani dishes that usually come in plentiful amounts. The rice is also lighter than your conventional santan-based nasi lemak, making it a joyful companion to the flavourful chicken drumstick.

Price-wise, the dishes are very affordable and for the portions you are getting, it’s truly a bang for your buck. Nine Spices also has a supper and breakfast menu that runs from 10pm to 10am, consisting of unique roti prata selections like the Cheezy Bird Nest Roti Prata (S$2.90).

If you’re around Choa Chu Kang area and you’re looking for something new, do head down to Nine Spices for a truly local flavour—for who knows, if Nasi Rempah catches on, you just might be trying the next big thing in Singapore’s food scene.

Expected Damage: S$5 – S$10 per pax

Price: $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Nine Spices

302 Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4, #01-719, Singapore 680302

Our Rating 4/5

Nine Spices

302 Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4, #01-719, Singapore 680302

Telephone: +65 9819 0249
Operating Hours: 7am - 11pm (Daily)
Telephone: +65 9819 0249

Operating Hours: 7am - 11pm (Daily)
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