Nasi Lemak – Creamy Rice, Heaven in Your Mouth

Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak

While there are many foods that have power to arouse happiness, Malaysian nasi lemak takes satisfaction to the next level.

For local Malaysians that leave their home country, nasi lemak is THE MEAL they crave, the comfort food they long for most.

And once you’ve had it, it’s entirely understandable.

Antarabangsa Nasi Lemak

Antarabangsa Nasi Lemak

In Kuala Lumpur, one of my main objectives was to explore nasi lemak – to dig in a little deeper and get a flavor for one of Malaysia’s most beloved foods.

What is Nasi Lemak?

Nasi lemak literally translates to “fatty rice.

The rice is initially soaked in coconut milk and pandan leaves before being steamed to give each grain a fragrant light coconut creaminess.

Nasi lemak is traditionally served in small cone shaped banana leaf packages filled with rice and a variety of spicy toppings, but you can also find nasi lemak set up similar to a nasi campur style feast.

Malaysian nasi lemak

Each bite is a celebration!

Antarabangsa Nasi Lemak

While exploring Kampung Baru, a local Malay area of Kuala Lumpur located near the center of town, I stumbled into Antarabangsa Nasi Lemak.

At the time, I didn’t know it was so famous, but the tables were full, and as I ate there was a continual stream of takeaway customers.

By the time I arrived, at about 11 am or so, there was evidence that a few of the dishes had already run out.

All was good though, they still had my favorite nasi lemak supplement, sambal sotong, squid cooked in chili sauce.

A fried egg, a few spoons of crunchy ikan bilis (fried anchovies), a scoop of chili sauce and a few slices of cucumber to garnish and I was ready to dine.

Crispy anchovies mingled with rice and chili sauce

Crispy anchovies mingled with rice and chili sauce

Just like loco moco, the sloppier and saucier things get with nasi lemak, the better!

The squid was a little sweet, reminded me of Korean nakji bokkeum, and had amazing flavor. But the real hit was the simple fried egg smothered in sambal chili sauce with the coconut fragrant rice.

Price: 6 MYR ($1.96)
Open: Many say 6 pm – 5 am daily… but I went at 11 am and it was open.. so not entirely sure?
Address: 7C Jalan Raja Muda Musa, Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur

RA Nasi Lemak in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

RA Nasi Lemak in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

RA Nasi Lemak

The next day I wanted more nasi lemak.

After digging through a number of Kuala Lumpur food blogs, I decided to try a famous stall near Dang Wangi LRT station known as RA Nasi Lemak.

Yet again served from a home and shaded by pop-up umbrellas, RA Nasi Lemak seemed to attract a diverse demographic of hungry locals – businessmen, construction workers, BMW drivers, bicycle riders, hair salon stylists, and a random foreigner (myself) pursuing nasi lemak.

The legendary wooden barrel of fragrant nasi lemak rice

The legendary wooden barrel of fragrant nasi lemak rice

As soon as I got in line, the lady opened the wooden barrel of rice which unleashed a puff of steam that literally made me drool.

Though busy, the homely restaurant had a comforting motherly atmosphere to it, kind of like the local Zanzibari mix restaurant in Dar Es Salaam.

Attractive nasi lemak self service buffet

Attractive nasi lemak self service buffet

Unlike Antarabangsa Nasi Lemak where you point to the topping and they serve you, to my delight RA Nasi Lemak was self service.

Ready to dig in!

Ready to dig in!

Yet another challenging Malaysian food choice… but a great challenge. I was hoping to see some stink beans in the mix, but they weren’t available.

I can state with 100% certainty that nothing served at RA will be even close to a bad choice.

Can you really beat a plate of nasi lemak?

Is there anything better than a plate of nasi lemak?

A pile of steamed coconut infused rice, more sambal sotong (squid in chili sauce), stir fried morning glory, ikan bilis, cucumbers, and a generous anointing of chili sauce was the outcome.

For the main course I chose a succulent piece of chicken rendang (chicken stewed in coconut cream and spices).

RA Nasi Lemak

Sensational chili sambal sauce

The nasi lemak was honestly unbelievable.

Each spoonful was among the most precious bites I’ve ever chewed in my life.

Price: 7 MYR ($2.30)
Open: 6:30 am – 10 pm daily
Address: 15 Jalan Raja Abdullah 50300 Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Nasi Lemak

Your plate will be empty before you know it

If I had to choose one nasi lemak restaurant over the other I’d probably go with RA Nasi Lemak due to the self service and the amazing sambal chili sauce. But both restaurants were stunning.

One thing is certain – at either Nasi Lemak restaurant, the dish washer will love you because you’re going to lick your plate completely clean.

Do you love Nasi Lemak?

Here’s a map so you can find both of the restaurants.

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  1. says

    You’ve convinced me Mark. Nasi lemak looks and sounds absolutely delicious. Will most likely be in Malaysia next year so I will definitely dig in! :)

  2. fairuz says

    Im from malaysia and why not try nasi kerabu or nasi dagang in Kelantan? Guess i already fall in love with your blog, sooo mmaannyy delicious-mouth watering foods~!! 😉

  3. sheon says

    “LEMAK” in malay has several meanings, one of it is “creamy” or “rich”. I think to put it as Creamy Rice would make more sense :)

  4. says

    Yes, you are right. Being away from Malaysia for an extended period of time, one of the food that I missed the most was Nasi Lemak. I used to be a regular at Antarabangsa when I lived in KL, but now my favourite is actually in Sarawak. If you make it here, I’ll bring you there.

  5. says

    mark: the thought of those plates of nasi lemak getting into my mouth. The delicate sweetness saltiness of the sambal gravy playing in my mouth like little kids do. The aroma of friend chicken and eggs that cause chaos and confusing to my other senses. Especially to the eyes….its just to much….

  6. says

    Aha! Nasi Lemak is very similar with what we have in Indonesia, called Nasi Uduk. If I really want to taste a dish that reminds me of home, I guess Nasi Lemak will do. :)

  7. Avinash says


    Is Nasi Lemak more vegetarian (lacto-ovo) friendly compared to Nasi Campur? Or the other way around? Does it vary by stall too? Any insight is appreciated. I want to make sure we try out to best vegetarian Nasi Lemak and Nasi Campur stalls in KUL.

    • says

      Hey Avinash, hmm, I’m not so sure about the vegetarian nasi lemak and nasi kandar. Though at nasi kandar you normally have more choices so can get vegetarian options. Enjoy!

  8. Meow says

    Nasi lemak antarabangsa is nowhere near as good as it used to be,in fact many other places in kl tastes much nicer and cheaper than that.


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