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Food

Spice & Rice, Amoy Street Food Centre: “Nasi Lemak that would make mum proud.”

Last Updated: February 9, 2021

Written by Basil

Few dishes scream local fare like nasi lemak does. At Spice & Rice, it joins the ranks of other modernised iterations of traditional dishes in Amoy Street Food Centre—here are bowls of Japanese-inspired wonton mee at A Noodle Story, and fun twists on toasted bread and kopi at Coffee Break.

storefront of spice and rice

It’s all stuffed into this 2-storey establishment that sits between sky-high office buildings and rows of ageing shophouses in nearby Chinatown. Perhaps that’s the explanation behind the eclectic mix of stalls here, where generational recipes meet upscale new-gen ventures. I’m heavily invested in both, and particularly jealous of the lucky office folk who stream like clockwork into this stronghold of all things delectable.

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three plates of nasi lemak at spice & rice

My visit to Spice & Rice arrives in a timely fashion, following the inscribing of local hawker culture into the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list, and the launching of the Hawkerpreneurship programme for aspiring hawkers who look to enter this thoroughly competitive industry. Behind this nasi lemak venture is a young duo who promise classic versions of the ubiquitous rice dish from the confines of their prominently lit hawker stall.

What I tried

Bowls of steaming coconut rice get slapped onto pearly white plates, while the rest of the fixings come ladled, sprinkled, and spooned one dollop at a time. Don’t mistake it for lazy cooking though, because laborious prep work occurs behind closed shutters and under the break of dawn. Take for example sayur lodeh, a rich stew of softened vegetables in coconut milk. It’s an unorthodox pairing for nasi lemak, but a welcome addition nonetheless.

Lunch begins with the Classic Nasi Lemak Fried Chicken (S$7.50). The assembly of ingredients here is floral in presentation, boasting petal-esque adornments of sambal, ikan bilis (dried anchovies), and a sunny-side-up cooked runny in the centre. I prudently proceed with a spoonful of rice, which makes for the centrepiece to each of Spice & Rice’s offerings. 

Classic Fried Chicken Nasi Lemak

A delightful fragrance of coconut fills the mouth and nostrils, adding to the fun, fluffy bites of basmati grains. Splashes of sweet sambal across crispy ikan bilis make for flavours which are distinctively and unmistakeably nasi lemak. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. My main gripe would be for fiercer levels of spice in the sambal chilli, but this works well for the less tolerant.

I do feel an obligation to dedicate one paragraph to the fried chicken. Here, fried morsels of meat don’t hide behind layers of crunchy, oil-laden batter. Instead, there’s delicately crispy skin and moist, juicy flesh to show for it. My obsession with this version lies in its marinade of sixteen ingredients. A glance at my report card will tell you that I’m not one to dabble in numbers, but I now know that Spice & Rice’s quantitatively extravagant blend of spices pays off with excellent, well-seasoned meat. Eat that, KFC.

Butter Chicken

The next plate comes by way of the Butter Chicken (S$7.50). It’s all rinse and repeat from the previous dish, save for chunks of chicken swimming in thick pools of gravy in place of its fried counterpart. I’m equally addicted to the creamy and mildly sweet notes here, and it showed. 

This one has all the hallmarks of a crowd favourite, offering a refreshing pairing to nasi lemak in all things tasty and boneless. I’d probably request to go sambal-free on this plate at future visits because the butter chicken gravy in itself proves more than ample.

Vegetarian Nasi Lemak

Another unique inclusion on Spice & Rice’s menu is the Vegetarian Nasi Lemak (S$7). Hardcore fanatics might consider this a blatantly oxymoronic concept. Strip away the shrimp-laden sambal, fried anchovies, and any semblance of selar fish and fried chicken—is what you’re left with even deserving of the nasi lemak moniker? 

Spice & Rice’s answer to that question appears in the form of generous heaps of their creamy sayur lodeh, decked out in spongy strips of beancurd and soft cabbage. There’s fried tahu (beancurd) on the side, but it begs for an accompaniment of sauce or gravy to save its mundanity. Numerous spoonfuls of vegetables and coconut rice do make for an exceedingly one-dimensional dish, and while I acknowledge the stall’s efforts of inclusivity toward the meat-free crowd, I’d reckon that seven dollars can get you much further at Amoy Street’s many other options. 

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Final thoughts

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For the most part, Spice & Rice’s offerings prove tasty and comforting. The fussiest of nasi lemak lovers would be impressed with their execution of flavour. At its best, there are faultless pairings of lovingly fried chicken and fragrant basmati rice. In other areas, there are combinations which miss the mark. My advice? Just go for the classics, and I doubt you’ll have a bad time. But feel free to try all three of their plates. After all, such efforts to uphold our little red dot’s hawker trade does demand at the very least, our patronage and continued support.

Expected Damage: S$7 – S$9 per pax

Price: $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Spice & Rice

7 Maxwell Road, Amoy Street Food Centre, #01-15, Singapore 069111

Price
Our Rating 4/5

Spice & Rice

7 Maxwell Road, Amoy Street Food Centre, #01-15, Singapore 069111

Telephone: +65 9240 1426
Operating Hours: 11am - 3pm (Tue to Fri), 9am - 3pm (Sat to Sun), Closed on Mon
Telephone: +65 9240 1426

Operating Hours: 11am - 3pm (Tue to Fri), 9am - 3pm (Sat to Sun), Closed on Mon
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