[ By Gloria Ngu ]
Think about Malaysian breakfast food.
What were the first few choices that your brain conjured?
For me, and many other Malaysians as well, nasi lemak is definitely one of our favourite breakfast foods. It is one of the dishes that has been wholeheartedly accepted by our hearts, tummies and wallets. Now, it is not just consumed at the breakfast table, but also during lunch and dinner (which is rather unhealthy, considering the fact that the rice is cooked in coconut milk).
Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus, being a truly Malaysian institution, has a handful of F&B (Food and Beverage) outlets and stalls on and near campus that provide Taylorians with this legendary dish.
1. Cafe at Block E Level 1
Location: Closest to the classrooms, this cafe is best for those whose priority is convenience. Every morning, a basket filled to the brim with packets of nasi lemak is placed at the counter, where students and lecturers can just grab, pay and go.
Taste: As these packets of nasi lemak are pre-packed, one can only hope for so much. Surprisingly, the onion sambal isn’t too bad. It does pack less spice, which is good for those who do not fancy burning their oesophagus, sweating waterfalls. Texture wise, the rice is less satisfying as the grains often clump together, but it passes the taste test. With a quarter of a hardboiled egg, a few anchovies and peanuts, this small packet serves well as temporary gratification for a growling stomach.
Other things you might want to know: It comes with a free spoon.
Conclusion: This is more suitable for people who are rushing, not bothered by rice cakes in rice and are looking for something that doesn’t burn a hole in their throat or their wallets.
2. Star Teh Tarik, Boardwalk Level 1 (same row as Face to Face Noodles House and Subway)
Location: The distance between most classrooms and the mamak is about a ten-minute walk, not too far yet not really near.
Taste: The sambal is one of the sweet varieties, and like the one from the Block E Cafe, will not cause any fatalities even if taken in spoonfuls (please do not try this without supervision). The faint aroma of onions in the sambal does make the rice taste better, as the rice tends to be a tad bit mushy and lacks in flavour. The anchovies and peanuts are passable with just enough crunch to not be soggy.
Other things you might want to know: There are add-ons available at the mamak stall, like fried chicken, but of course at a price.
Conclusion: This is best ordered when you want fried chicken or a takeaway meal.
3. Kampung Cili, Boardwalk Level 2 (opposite 7-Eleven)
Location: Also located at the Boardwalk, this is ten minutes away from the academic block (15 minutes if you’re taking a stroll).
Taste: The rice is fragrant and flavourful, and the best part is that it isn’t excessively oily. The sambal, although a meagre portion, packs a solid punch. The spiciness and overtones of lemongrass along with fried shrimp makes it stand out amongst all the sambals here. This nasi lemak comes along with chicken rendang which is a bit too oily, but tastes fine nonetheless. It also provides many textures for you to savour: soft rice, crunchy anchovies, chunky peanuts, crisp cucumbers, crumbly fried shrimp.
Other things you might want to know: You can pack this as well, and they separate the rendang from the rice. Good practice!
Conclusion: Self-proclaimed nasi lemak connoisseurs should definitely give this a try, but other than that, students on tight budgets should probably think twice. Or thrice.
4. Mizz Nina’s Recipe, Arena Food Court, Boardwalk Level 2
Location: In the food court, it is the last most stall facing the lake. A little bit of a distance!
Taste: As with the first two, the sambal is sweet and not spicy, but this has more flavour. The rice has a good balance of coconut milk, onions and lemongrass but is slightly oily. As a whole, it is quite pleasant to the taste buds, though not memorable.
Other things you might want to know: There are other add-ons available as listed on their menu.
Conclusion: If you have the time to go to the food court, why not give this a try. It’s relatively cheap, decent and you wouldn’t have to fight for dining space.
5. PJS7 Stall (near guard house)
Location: Leave Taylor’s via the gate that connects the campus and PJS7, turn left and it will be about 10 meters away from you.
Taste: The sambal is a unique mix of garlic, onion and lemongrass with neither overpowering the other. It is aromatic and slightly tangy, and consumed with the rich but not oily rice, it is heaven. The vendor seems to have found the perfect mix of pandan leaves, coconut milk and the other spices she uses to make the rice. The anchovies are deafeningly crunchy.
Other things you might want to know: The stall is open all mornings except for Monday. Add-ons like chicken rendang, beef rendang and squid are available.
Conclusion: Cheap, yummy but not so convenient for students without the pass cards. If you really want to try this (you should), ask a friend who has the card for help!
Nasi lemak. Many variants, full of energy-producing elements, and most importantly, cheap.
The next time you can’t decide on a meal, keep calm and eat nasi lemak!
Disclaimer: The author does not proclaim to be a professional in the art of nasi lemak eating.