Uptown Nasi Lemak, Telok Ayer: KL-style nasi lemak that’s nothing more than decent

I think I speak for many Singaporeans when I say that the constant hunt for the nation’s best nasi lemak never ends. Perhaps I’m picky, or perhaps I’ve been kept in the dark about some secrets that are just too good to share. Either way, I dream of a piping hot fragrant bed of rice, crispy, umami chicken, and some banging chilli that will leave me clamouring for the toilet for days. I ask for very little in life.

Storefront of Uptown Nasi Lemak

Uptown Nasi Lemak frankly doesn’t need much introduction—hailing from Kuala Lumpur, the stall gets its name from its hometown in Damansara Uptown. So right off the bat, the nasi lemak experience’s going to be a tad bit different from what we’re used to here in Singapore.

A snaking queue around the stall marks the start of my wait. Open only during a short window from 10am to 2.30pm, I don’t think there’s ever a time when the stall isn’t swamped with hungry hopefuls. Albeit relatively long, the queue moves swiftly and hurriedly, jolting me into settling fast on my order choices.

What I tried

Flatlay of nasi lemak with ayam goreng berempah

To withstand test-retest reliability, this afternoon has us stuffing ourselves with three different plates, each boasting a meat dish to pair. The Nasi Lemak With Ayam Goreng Berempah (S$7.50) is where the money’s at, and if you’re giving Uptown Nasi Lemak a try for the first time, perhaps it’s only best to start with their signature. When a chicken leg as handsome as this one sits atop a bed of coconut milk rice, it’s easy to forget that the other sides exist too. I can only imagine that that must be how the cast of The Avengers feel whenever they’re scheduled for a scene with Chris Evans. That’s a big yikes from me.

Tearing into the juicy chicken leg

Crispy, flavourful, and juicy are all words I’d use to describe it, which is basically everything you could ask for in your chicken. The sides, however—the usual cucumber slices, half an egg, ikan bilis, and achar—are just your usual fanfare, and nothing much to write to your kampung about.

A plate of nasi lemak with ayam goreng berempah

It’s arguable that the secret to a great nasi lemak lies within none other than the nasi itself—you’d be amazed at how much of an impact good rice plays in so many local dishes. While the rice here at Uptown Nasi Lemak held a light fragrance, it perhaps took ‘subtle’ just a tad too seriously. I would’ve loved for the coconut-ty flavours of the rice to be a little more pronounced, as compared to the current state of affairs, where it’s drowned out by the other fierce flavours on the plate.

Flatlay of Nasi Lemak with Sambal Sotong

The Nasi Lemak With Sambal Sotong (S$7) pretty much gets you the same elements as before, just that the chicken leg has been swapped out for chunks of spiced cuttlefish. As a seafood-and-also-very-lazy person, this is easily my preferred ingredient. Anything that doesn’t require me to peel or tear apart with my hands is a win in my books because lord forbid, I lift a finger midway through my meal.

A plate of of Nasi Lemak with Sambal Sotong

While tasty and adequately seasoned, the sotong pieces deplete almost too quickly. Just a few more chunks would’ve done wonders for the dish overall. Other than that, the sotong’s gravy does a decent job at preventing each bite from being too dry.

Flatlay of Nasi Lemak with Beef Rendang

My colleague gently pushes the Nasi Lemak With Beef Rendang (S$8.50) back to my side of the table, citing the beef’s gaminess as the reason. Conversely, I thoroughly enjoy the beef rendang in all its raciness. After all, what’s a dining experience without a little slap in the face? Again, you won’t find anything else new on the plate, just the familiar fellas from before.

A plate of Nasi Lemak with Beef Rendang

Vera’s ‘Chef’s Kiss Award’

It is with great ambivalence that I bring you the awards today, for I find myself stuck in that awkward liminal space of perfectly average. If it must be done, let today’s ‘Chef’s Kiss Award’ go to the fist-sized ayam goreng berempah, or spiced fried chicken, simply because of its sheer size and well-marinated crispy skin. So whoever said that size doesn’t matter simply didn’t know what they were talking about.

Final thoughts

I give credit where it’s due, and I will say that it’s a decent plate of nasi lemak if you’re ever looking for one. But as to whether it’s well worth the price tag of S$7.50 and standing in line for, I’d have to politely disagree.

And so wraps up another chapter in my perennial hunt for Singapore’s best nasi lemak; if you’ve got intel that could point me in the right direction, hit me up at [email protected] and I’d love to chat.

Expected damage: S$7 – S$8.50 per pax

For more nasi lemak stories, check out Lemak Boys, Beef Bro, and Spice & Rice.

Price: $

Our Rating: 3 / 5

Uptown Nasi Lemak

121 Telok Ayer Street, #01-01, Stall #7 , Singapore 068590

Our Rating 3/5

Uptown Nasi Lemak

121 Telok Ayer Street, #01-01, Stall #7 , Singapore 068590

Telephone: +65 8751 8927
Operating Hours: 10am - 2.30pm (Mon to Sat), Closed on Sun
Telephone: +65 8751 8927

Operating Hours: 10am - 2.30pm (Mon to Sat), Closed on Sun
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