You know how I only visit restaurants after they've passed the 1-year mark? It's really to allow for the passage of time to weed out the duds, coz if restaurants can't survive the first year of business, they were probably crummy anyway. And even if they're good, it sucks when they get wound up at the end of the day. Ultimately, I just don't see the point of visiting new restaurants until they've been time-tested.
Also, I give the restaurants time to allow them to really find their footing, iron out the kinks, make the necessary adjustments and refinements. So what you get when a restaurant is newly launched usually turns out a different, more stable and sustainable, creature after about a year.
This was no more evident when we visited hipster joint du jour, The Coconut Club recently, with Izzy & Ivano. They'd dined there when the restaurant was just opened, and weren't all that impressed. But 10 months in, the food's noticeably refined. For one, the sambal now packs so much more of a punch, when it was rather weak before. Another upside of delayed gratification, the queues to get into the restaurant aren't as horrendous anymore.
The Nasi Lemak Ayam Goreng Berempah ($12.80) was a massive platter of succulent fried chicken thigh, ikan bilis, roasted peanuts, cucumbers, fried egg, sambal, over fragrant coconut rice that was fluffy and not at all weighted by oily film. This was as sophisticated nasi lemak was ever gonna get, and I liked it. I could finish the cholesterol-laden plate without being oil-sickened after.
There are a small selection of add-ons to your nasi lemak and a must-try is the Sambal Lala ($) which briny sweetness was the perfect complement to the kick of the thin chilli blend.
Skip the Otak-Otak ($10.50) which otak paste was too pulverised, almost custard like, so it tasted artificially manufactured. That said, I liked the chunky slabs of fish lined within.
The Cendol ($3.80) was another dish that'd obviously been tweaked for the better. They were more generous with the gula melaka now, which balanced out the rich coconut milk.
The Coconut Club
6 Ann Siang Hill
Tel: 6635 2999
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 11am to 3pm for lunch; 6pm to 9.30pm for dinner;
Sundays from 11am to 3pm for lunch only;
Closed on Mondays