Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Boy marries girl. This might seem like a typical love story. But to Australia-born Brett and his Malay wife, Yani, their romance transcended boundaries and culture and this unexpected union (plus their love for food) led to the birth of their humble stall, Soulfood Catering.
“What kind of food does Soulfood Catering sell exactly?”, one might ask. It is not difficult to guess. Put together what Australia does best, together with one of the most prominent Malay delicacies, and you will have your answer. Aussie barbecue nasi lemak.
Located at the cross-section along Pahang Street, the eatery is hidden in plain sight at the S.A.T. Alsagoff Building. As we walked towards the stall, I caught Brett’s gaze from under his cap, as he smiled sheepishly and asked if my partner and I were ready to eat. “Ready to makan, mate?”, were his exact words.
Brett’s love for travelling around South-East Asia led him to Malaysia, where he first met Yani, and it was love at first sight. Not towards his wife, but the nasi lemak by the roadside which Yani introduced to him during his travel.
Since then, Brett has been experimenting with this diverse dish, incorporating his favourite foods and love of barbecue items before he came up with Soulfood Catering’s diverse and unique list of menu items.
Before diving into an Aussie’s interpretation of this unassuming dish, it’s always best to start with the classic combination—Chicken Wing Nasi Lemak (S$5). I tend to have a ritual when it comes to consuming my nasi lemak. Rice, sambal, rice and sambal. Three must-do steps before moving on to the other condiments and these three steps alone ascertained my impression of the stall—homely and authentic.
Whilst some nasi lemak rice is redolent with the scent of coconut, the rice at Soulfood Catering only had a subtle fragrance and its taste were not as rich and decadent. Despite that, the grains were light and fluffy, making each mouthful a delight—especially when eaten together with their sambal.
Don’t get me started on their sambal; in charge of this piquant sambal chilli is Yani’s mother herself, who cooks the sambal from scratch almost every day. I was glad we were given a generous portion of this fiery red sauce on every plate of our nasi lemak as they make the best combination even when eaten alone with the coconut rice.
The sambal delivered the right amount of heat, subdued by a subtle sweetness, resulting in a tantalising and addictive accompaniment to the dish. Word of advice: go easy on the sambal as we easily wiped out three plates of rice unknowingly!
Using the stall’s special paprika, garlic, and herb-infused batter, the chicken wings were fried to a perfect golden brown. Despite being left on the side for some time (since the camera gets to eat first), they were still incredibly crisp and not cloyingly greasy.
All thanks to the batter, there was a touch of spice that lingered for a split second at the back of my throat and a herbaceous fragrance that dissipated in my mouth with every bite.
Bangers and mash is a traditional British dish consisting of sausages and mashed potato served with gravy. At Soulfood Catering, they have Bangers And Hash (S$10). Bring a kid to the eatery and this dish will probably be their number one pick.
Featuring two grilled chicken cheese sausages and two hash browns, topped with smoky caramelised onions—nothing should or could go wrong with this dish. A bite into the sausage and I felt the cheese oozing out, filling my mouth with its rich and creamy lusciousness. This was made better with the caramelised onions, providing a slightly burnt aftertaste.
Like me, are you that person who wishes for breakfast items to be available for an entire day just to have scrambled eggs and bacon at 7pm? If that describes you, then Soulfood Catering’s Egg Benny Nasi Lemak (S$10) is a dish you would want to try.
Available with the option of smoked salmon or turkey bacon, the Egg Benny Nasi Lemak mimics the American eggs benedict—Brett’s favourite breakfast item. Opened-faced English muffins were replaced with two smaller portions of nasi lemak rice on which sat flawlessly poached eggs drenched with the eatery’s very own creamy garlic sauce.
Breaking into the poached eggs, its gooey-yet-runny yolk seeped into the rice, adding a tinge of umami to the already savoury and delectable base.
As a salmon lover, I would definitely recommend the smoked salmon to accompany your Egg Benny Nasi Lemak. Compared to turkey bacon, it was more flavourful as the fish retained its brininess, making the dish as good or even better than the original due to the added coconut-ty richness.
Leaving the best for the last, Brett dished out Surf & Turf Nasi Lemak (S$18.90)—his “baby” and proudest creation on the menu. Greatly inspired by his backyard barbecue experiences in Australia, the dish comprised of all the ingredients that he would usually barbecue with back home—scallops, prawns and most importantly, a beautiful cut of ribeye steak.
Coated in sambal oil before grilling, the scallops and prawns were nicely flavoured with a touch of spice that will tickle your tongue. Other then that, I felt that the seafood was mediocre and was pushed away from the limelight by the ribeye steak.
At first glance, I thought that the beef might be slightly tough and overcooked considering its doneness seen from its brownish side profile. But boy, do not be deceived by its looks as the beef was tender. Nicely grilled, they were crusted with the right amount of char which intensified the meaty flavours with a smokey note.
Never would I expect myself having nasi lemak prepared by an Australian man, let alone enjoy it. At Soulfood Catering, as I observed Brett and Yani working together during the entire lunch service, I realised that it really takes courage and passion migrating from your home country to a foreign land; to be with the one you love and to create a future with them.
Rarely do I come across someone like Brett. Although our meeting was short, it’s definitely one that left a huge impression and one that is difficult to forget.
Expected Damage: S$5 – S$19 per pax
Our Rating: 4 / 5
13 Pahang Street, Singapore 198614
13 Pahang Street, Singapore 198614