Ask around and the majority would agree that the best Nasi Kandar lies in Penang — its birthplace.
With 100 years of history behind it, Nasi Kandar first came to Malaya during the British colonisation due to the migration of Indian Muslims from South India to our shores.
The business of selling Nasi Kandar started off small enough when Indian Muslims used to sell their homemade curries and rice to dock labour workers at Weld Quay in Georgetown.
Since then, Nasi Kandar fare has evolved to either modest businesses by the roadside, under trees or coffee shops, to the multi-million dollar F&B business it is today, that has paved the way for 24-hour, reliable Mamak restaurants we’ve all grown up with and cherish till now.
Certain restaurants are known best for certain dishes. So, while not all the dishes at the restaurants listed here are great, they definitely give their Penang competition a run for their money, some even emerging better and tastier than their Northern counterparts.
1. Restoran Kudu Bin Abdul
Often regarded as Nasi Kandar Kudu, the Nasi Kandar here is arguably the best in town — evident by the long queues.
Operating since 1969, the restaurant solely serves Nasi Kandar, with a variety of daily specials like Ayam Kampung Kurma, Ayam Merah, Ayam Madu, Ayam Kampung Goreng, and Ayam Goreng Masala.
The restaurant is located along the busy Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and opens as early as 7.30am. However, the best curries are said to be available from 11am onwards.
Usually, you will have to wait in line for roughly 10 minutes before being served but during peak hours on weekdays, the line can be twice as long due to the office crowd.
Nonetheless, it is worth the wait once you get to savour Kudu’s Ayam Sambal Bawang and Ayam Kicap.
Pair these with Telur Bawang (omelette with onions), a few pieces of ladies fingers, and of course the savoury Kuah Kari Campur (mixed curry gravy) and you’ve got it made.
UPPRE’s recommendation: Ayam Sambal Bawang and Ayam Kicap.
Restoran Kudu Bin Abdul
335, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Chow Kit,
50100 Kuala Lumpur.
(Friday prayer break: 12.45pm-2pm)
2. Restoran Mohd Yaseem
Just a stone’s throw away from Nasi Kandar Kudu is Restoran Mohd Yaseem, more affectionately known as Nasi Kandar Yaseen.
You have to queue here as well but the wait is not as long as it is in Kudu’s. While the Nasi Kandar next door is famous for their chicken, this restaurant serves the best seafood dishes like Sambal Sotong.
A combination of rice, Sambal Sotong, Telur Bawang, a few ladies fingers, and mixed curries can easily cost you RM15 — which is quite pricey, to be honest.
Taste-wise, the curry is thick but somehow lacking in seasoning. Nonetheless, the Telur Bawang is decadent and goes well with the other dishes.
UPPRE’s recommendation: Sambal Sotong and Telur Bawang.
Restoran Mohd Yaseem
351, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Chow Kit,
50300 Kuala Lumpur.
Open 24 hours.
3. Anuar Kari Kepala Ikan
If you are in search of the best fish head curry, look no further than Anuar’s Fish Head Curry in Lucky Garden, Bangsar.
Located behind TMC Supermarket, the business has been running for more than 30 years now. This humble stall is located under a tree, opposite the Goodyear Car Workshop.
We ordered a plate of rice with fried chicken and squid, along with the fish head curry gravy. Like everyone said, “Da curry is da bomb!” It is flavoursome and rich.
UPPRE’s recommendation: Fish Head Curry
Anuar Kari Kepala Ikan
No.2, Lorong Ara Kiri 3, Lucky Garden Bangsar,
59100 Kuala Lumpur.
Closed on Sundays.
4. Kedai Makan Al-Faris
Here is probably one of the best Mamak eateries you can find in Dang Wangi. They once operated a humble stall along Jalan Doraisamy but now have shifted to a space behind MOJO at The Row.
The new name they took on is Mamak Container as their kitchen is essentially a black shipping container.
Despite the limited space, the place is always packed especially during lunch hour.
To the first-timer, it may look like just another typical Nasi Kandar stall. But, Mamak Container is a hidden gem.
Not known to many, the bestseller here is its fried chicken. It is fresh and tender on the inside and scrumptious and crispy-hot on the outside. Simply the best!
The curry served here tastes home-cooked, reminding you of mum’s homey cooking.
UPPRE’s recommendation: Fried Chicken
Kedai Makan Al-Faris (Mamak Container)
Jalan Doraisamy, Chow Kit,
50300 Kuala Lumpur (Behind MOJO)
*All images by Uppre.
This article first appeared in uppre.com