LAST_UPDATESun, 22 Jul 2018 10am

Nasi Lemak Conquers The World

HAVE you heard the news? Nasi Lemak has recently conquered the world!

This was proven during the recent Masterchef competition ( TV franchise of its own) produced in over 40 countries across the globe, which is without doubt the largest cooking competition on the planet.

Last May, Ping Coombes, an Ipoh-born former assistant hotel manager won the UK version of Masterchef, and her main course in the finale was none other than the Malaysian favourite Nasi lemak!

Ping who currently lives in Bath with husband Andrew and 18 months old daughter Alexa decided to wow the competition’s judges with a taste of Malaysia’s most well-known dish. She serves her nasi lemak with the basic coconut and Pandan rice along with spicy Sambal* lemon-grass prawns, turmeric fried chicken coated in Spanish potato crisps, served with another variety of Sambal with deep fried anchovies, crispy shallots, cucumber, quail eggs and an edible flowers.

“This dish, although is a rice dish - and the rice is beautiful by the way - is all about the flavours of the sea. You’ve got wonderful, sweet prawns cooked beautifully with that crunch, and a lovely chilli-hot Sambal outside of them. The Sambal that’s underneath is really rich and salty with those anchovies, which I love!” said judge Jon Torode. “Give me the biggest bowl you possibly can and I’ll sit here and eat the whole lot because I love it!” added the celebrity chef.

Another judge on the show, Gregg Wallace also loved Ping’s rendition of nasi lemak. “It goes without saying, and I expected it, that your prawns, your chicken, and your rice are perfectly cooked,” he said.

For that, we owe Ping heartiest congratulations from all of us here, and let’s celebrate the dish that she described as “everyone in Malaysia knows about”.

Ping Coombes and the nasi lemak dish she prepared for the finale of Masterchef UKPing Coombes and the nasi lemak dish she prepared for the finale of Masterchef UK

I think no one can dispute the fact that every single Malaysian knows and has eaten Nasi Lemak before. It is our unofficial national dish. The name is derived from the cooking process whereby the rice is steamed or boiled with coconut cream.

A basic Nasi Lemak is traditionally served with various side dishes that include a hot Sambal sauce, a smattering of small fried anchovies, roasted peanuts, hard boiled eggs and fresh cucumber slices. A more substantial Nasi Lemak serving may include other various side dishes like chicken or beef rendang, or prawns Sambal or any other variation.

The exact origins of Nasi Lemak cannot be confirmed but we do know that it has been around for a long time. Sir Richard Olaf Winstedt, a scholar and colonial administrator, had written about Nasi Lemak in Malaysia during the year 1909 in his book ‘The Circumstances of Malay Life’.

Although there are some differences, our neighbouring country Indonesia also has dishes similar to our Nasi Lemak. In Jakarta, the dish is called Nasi Uduk, while in Aceh it is known as Nasi Gurrih, and there is a quite similar Javanese dish named Nasi Liwet.

Going International

Depending on where you live, a small pack of basic nasi lemak can cost as low as RM1.00 and while a plate of the same dish at high-end restaurants can go up to as high as RM20.00 and above.

But how much would the dish cost outside of Malaysia? As it is considered as ‘exotic’ food elsewhere, you could expect to it to cost a lot more than what we currently enjoy. According to, in Vancouver, Canada, you would have to fork out RM45.20, while in Sydney, Australia the dish would sell for RM43.50. London also has a similar price range as the nasi lemak there sells for RM42.90 but thankfully in a big city like New York our national dish is offered at the price of ‘only’ RM26.30.

pic: ringgitplus.compic:

Maybe Nasi Lemak will cost much cheaper if the country is much closer to home, you might ask. Well, you be the judge as the prices in the Asian countries are as follows: Beijing goes for RM30.25; Tokyo sells at RM38.45; while in Hong Kong you’ll have to fork out RM35.06.
With prices like these, if you go overseas it’s only natural that you cook the dish yourself!

The Best Nasi Lemak in Town

According to local food blog,, these are the 10 best places to get Nasi Lemak in our beloved capital of Kuala Lumpur (in no particular order):
- Warung Rindu Pak Ya (Located at Jalan Kubur, Off Pantai Expressway, Pantai Dalam)
- Mak Jah Corner (Located at Jalan Kerja Lama, Ampang Jaya)
- Village Park (Located at Damasara Uptown)
- Nasi Lemak Tanglin (Located at Jalan Cenderasari 3)
- Nasi Lemak Ujang Corner (Located at Medan Selera Taman Greenwood, Jalan Batu Caves)
- Nasi Lemak Suri (Located at Medan Selera Jalan 223, PJ)
- Nasi Lemak Pak Ayub (Located at section 20, Shah Alam)
- R.A. Nasi Lemak (Located behind Dang Wangi train station)
- Det Station (Taman Seraya, Ampang)
- Nasi Lemak Bus Stand (Damansara Uptown)

Nasi Lemak and Gordon Ramsey

Any food lover will probably know the name Gordon Ramsay. The celebrity chef is the star of reality shows such as Hell’s Kitchen, Masterchef USA, and Kitchen Nightmares. His restaurants have been awarded a total of 14 Michelin Stars. Only two other chefs in the world have more Michelin Stars than him. That makes him one of the best chefs in the world.

But did you know that during a trip to Malaysia to learn about our local cuisines, he even tried his luck at a nasi lemak competition in Kuala Lumpur. Despite only learning to cook the dish a few days before, he came out in second place!

See him cook nasi lemak in the video below (the video is about his adventures in Malaysia and the segment about nasi lemak starts at 36:15) and tell us what you think. Now you would say that nasi lemak has truly indeed conquered the world. Or brought one of the world’s best chefs on his knees.

*for non-Malaysians, Sambal is a mixture of pounded dried chilli, garlic, shallots, Belachan (dried shrimp paste), a bit of tamarind juice fried on its own or with anchovies


- mD