OG Lemak, Newton: “One bite is all it takes to get you hooked”

OK but how are we supposed to make an executive decision between this and the rendang? HOW? And also there’s a vegan option? HOW!!!??????” was the first comment I came across whilst perusing OG Lemak‘s Instagram account. And to be fair, once I had my first bite of Chef Shen Tan’s nasi lemak, I understood the dilemma.

OG Lemak stall

Returning to the place she calls home, OG Lemak sets up its abode at Newton Food Centre to the joy of many who have followed her culinary career from leaving behind her corporate cape to taking up the brave role of hawker and later on, chef. She appears bright-eyed and elated to see us arrive, along with vivacious energy explaining her nasi lemak recipe right before we dig in.

What I tried

OG Lemak Chicken Thigh Set

While I would’ve loved to master the art of devouring plate after plate of steaming nasi lemak, I think it’d be best if I savoured only two on this balmy afternoon. The OG Lemak Chicken Thigh Set (S$9.90) is as streamlined as they come, with polished portions of twice-steamed nasi lemak, crispy chicken thigh, fried egg, ikan bilis, cucumber slices, and—with not one, but two types of sambalsambal belachan and sambal tumis.

I don’t dare declare that I’m battling three mouth ulcers at the moment—thank you, stress—and try my best to valiantly power through the crunchy ikan bilis and fiery sambals. Practising refrain without giving away too much, I dot my rice with the sambal belacan first, and oh boy, a little really does go a long way. For the rest of the meal, I’ll keep my distance from this devilish fella. The sambal tumis shows up with more tang than heat, so I’ll allow a little more than a dab onto the rest of my rice.

Og Lemak

The amount of lemak here is unquestionable, but what stands out more is how impeccable fluffy the texture shows in the rice. With four hours in the making and 11 ingredients to gather before whipping up a pot, this nasi lemak is worth its weight in gold. There’s absolutely very little to fault in the fried chicken thigh; it’s brined for 24 hours, resulting in a succulent centre and amazingly crispy skin that’s hard to come by these days.

And no, it isn’t just fried batter just because. I’ve had one too many fried chickens dredged in batter that comes up to nothing but grease and flour, but this one’s dolled up in seasoning—ready to be married off to Chef Shen’s perfect nasi lemak recipe.

Beef Rendang Set

However, I’m aware that fried chicken might not win everyone’s heart—to which I question your life choices. But no matter, it’s 2021, and everyone should be able to choose what makes them happy, which brings me joy that the Beef Rendang Set (S$9.90) makes me just as content.

I’m especially grateful today as the rendang doesn’t require my ulcers to suffer any more than it already has with the sambal earlier; it tears apart without hesitation and carries a richness that doesn’t take away from the nasi lemak‘s natural fattiness.

Beef Rendang Set

In fact, this entire plate just overwhelms my senses with contentment and pure happiness—a feeling that one experiences only with food that’s not only bold but more importantly honest. Chef Shen’s plan isn’t to reinvent nasi lemak, but to showcase what it truly is; a humble dish that only needs the best of methods and plenty of heart.

Final thoughts

In true modern fashion, there’s also a Vegan Set where the meat is replaced by sambal goreng, grilled eggplant, tau kwa with sambal, and tempeh chips, which, honestly, sounds pretty amazing. Returning to one’s roots can almost always show one of either two things: that you’ve come so far to be too removed from your beginnings, or that you’ve come so far to only want to pay homage to your roots. Chef Shen is surely the latter and it shows in this no-frills rendition of a classic, much-loved local dish.

Sure, OG Lemak might cost you a few dollars extra than most, but trust me, one bite is all it takes to get you hooked.

Expected damage: S$9.90 per pax

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Price: $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

OG Lemak

500 Clemenceau Avenue North, Newton Food Centre, Unit 01-16, Singapore 229495

Our Rating 4/5

OG Lemak

500 Clemenceau Avenue North, Newton Food Centre, Unit 01-16, Singapore 229495

Operating Hours: 11am - 8.30pm (Daily or till sold out)

Operating Hours: 11am - 8.30pm (Daily or till sold out)
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