Any local Malay worth his weight in beef rendang will know that THE PLACE to go to for nasi padang in Singapore is Kandahar Street. There are about 3 nasi padang stalls along the short street lined with conservation colonial shophouses, all of which serve up really delicious and cheap Malay fare. They are usually packed by 12 noon, and I would usually advise dining there by 1.30pm, or be prepared to eat the leftovers. However, come Ramadan period, the area gets real lonely during lunchtime as most Malays are fasting then.
Sabar Menanti serves up Minangkabau padang food, which is really just nasi padang, as we know it. This venerable restaurant has almost 50 years of history and that translates to age-old recipes that have been passed down for generations.
I love that I can eat an unbelievably good meal at an equally unbelievable pricetag here. A full meal for 2 persons, with rice, drinks and 6 dishes, amounts to only $19.
The Spinach is my favourite dish. It's so simple. Sliced fiery red chillies, sweet onions are all it takes to brings out the clean, mildly metallic edge of the vegetable (spinach leaves a slightly metallic aftertaste because of its high iron content, and for those who've forgotten their periodic tables, iron is a metal.)
While the spice paste in the Chicken Rendang were complex and addictive, the chicken was a tad bit dry and tough. I think maybe frozen chicken was used instead of fresh chicken.
The Fried Eggs may look elementary, but the green chillis, kecap manis (Indonesian sweet thick black sauce) add a layer onto the perfectly done eggs. The yolks were still soft and/or runny inside.
The Sambal Fishcake was delectably bouncy, with a thick slathering of fiery sambal that's both sweet and spicy.
The Beef Rendang was better than the chicken version, the beef was still moist, and braised real well, it fell apart easily. The rendang spice paste had a smokier, slightly charred edge to it.
The Sayur Lodeh is for people who love their braised vegetables firm and crunchy, and not soft and limp. This was rich, savoury and creamy.
I particularly liked the thirst-quenching Iced Plum Juice, which was loaded with bits of jelly and a cute sour plum. Great for those feeling bloated after a full meal.
Sabar Menanti Restaurant
48 Kandahar Street
Tel: 6396 6919
Open daily from 8.30am to 6pm