Last Updated: January 9, 2021
Last night, I went to bed, contemplating whether to have Japanese or Malay food for lunch. The moment I woke up this morning, I immediately knew what I wanted.
With dark clouds looming in the sky threatening a heavy downpour, it became apparent that a bowl of hot mee soto and a plate of spice-laden nasi padang would make for the perfect bite in this wet weather. That’s how I ended up in Selera Sumang Nasi Padang.
Known amongst residents as ‘The Best Nasi Padang in Punggol’, Selera Sumang Nasi Padang recently shifted from their original stall in Sumang Link to Punggol Walk. Nestled within Foodgle Hub—a short minute walk from Sumang LRT—this halal eatery is where we, the Punggol people, get our dose of hearty, homely Malay delights.
Before diving head-first into the crowd favourites, I decided to appease my rumbling tummy with some warmth and comfort. Cue, Mee Soto (S$3.50).
The soul of Selera Sumang Nasi Padang’s Mee Soto lies in their soto ayam, a gorgeous golden-yellow broth infused with the rich flavours of chicken bones and spices. Coating the surface of this elixir of savoury goodness were spots of chicken oil that contributed to its emollient mouthfeel, bringing life to every other element in the bowl.
As I slurped on Mee Soto, my greedy self wished that there were more of the tender chicken shreds. These substantial chunks lent yet another layer of flavour to the entire dish, making it irresistible especially on a cold rainy day.
Not forgetting the additional texture and freshness from the generous garnish of crispy fried shallots and fresh local celery. As a lover of these intense, slightly pungent flavours, “Bring me more garnish,” I would say. The more, the better.
I must admit that I am not well-versed with Malay cuisine and just like a noob, I requested for the Chicken Nasi Padang (from S$3) only to be met with a blank stare from the stall owner. Finally realising that I was waiting for her to expertly pick up dishes for my nasi padang (I thought they had a set for it), she swiftly suggested for me to try their Nasi Sambal Goreng or Nasi Rawon. “Both of them come with our popular side dishes,” she educated me with a smile.
The star in this stellar plate of Nasi Sambal Goreng (S$5) at Selera Sumang Nasi Padang was hands-down the sambal goreng. Coated in a fiery red sambal sauce, the long beans, fried tahu and tempeh (fermented soybeans) had a nutty fragrance which was surprisingly not as spicy as I expected.
Here, the sambal tumis accompanying the dishes leaned towards the sweet side with only a subtle kick of heat. The lack of spice might disappoint my fellow chilli fanatics but will surely put a smile on the faces of spice lovers who lack that bit of tolerance. This is undoubtedly a good start to build upon that spice tolerance of yours.
As much as I loved the other components in the dish, the fried chicken felt a little crestfallen. Crisp skin aside, the chicken lacked that bit of seasoning and the oomph factor for it to stand out in the plate. It had to rely on the sambal tumis to bring it to light which I thought was a pity considering its potential to shine.
Decked out in its saucy gloriousness was Selera Sumang Nasi Padang’s Nasi Rawon (S$6). This plate might appear messy and unglamorous to some, but who really cares about appearance when it’s taste that matters?
Indonesian-style gravy is doused liberally over the plate, encapsulating every grain of rice with a beautiful brown coating filled with the earthy fragrance of buah keluak—the fruit from the Pangium Edule tree known to connoisseurs as ‘black gold’ due to its tedious preparation process and prized flavour profile.
Whilst the paru (fried beef lungs) and tempeh played a forgettable role, the sambal sotong tickled my fancy with its gelatinous texture. Tender to a point where there was little to no chewiness, these bite-size pieces of sotong were melt-in-my-mouth morsels of deliciousness.
A dollop of their mind-blowing sambal chilli padi balanced the rawon gravy’s earthiness with a sharp and potent hit. Deep orange in colour, dotted with chilli seeds and flecks of lime, Selera Sumang Nasi Padang’s sambal chilli padi had my nose running in no time.
Thankfully, the serunding (spiced grated coconut) came to my rescue, balancing the heat with its soothing sweetness. Contrary to the Nasi Sambal Goreng, the Nasi Rawon was indeed a lot more potent but this preggy right here simply adored it precisely for its bold flavours and searing heat.
I used to be amazed by how some people can shove down plates of nasi padang or nasi lemak at the break of dawn, but now, I finally understand. It’s not about how heavy the meal is; it’s about the flavour and comfort it provides.
Just one bite into the Nasi Rawon and I was hooked. Like an addict, I kept going back for more. Even as I am writing this, I am constantly reminded of the sambal chilli padi and that scrumptious gravy that flooded my plate.
Although I’ve yet to explore the other nasi padang eateries around the area, I’m confident to say that the flavour Selera Sumang Nasi Padang has to offer is definitely one that is hard to beat.
Expected Damage: S$3 – S$6 per pax