Before the Penangites get your pitchfork ready for us, hear us out below.
Ask around and majority of us would agree that the best nasi kandar lies in Penang — its birthplace. Backed with over than 100 years of history, nasi kandar first came to Malaya during the British colonisation due to the migration of Indian Muslims from South India. It started off small when the Indian Muslims used to sell their homemade curries and rice to dock labour workers at Weld Quay in Georgetown. Since then, the Nasi Kandar fare evolved to modest businesses by the roadside, under trees, coffee shops, and now, a multi-million dollar F&B business which paved way to the 24-hour, reliable mamak we’ve all grown up with and cherish till now.
More often than not, certain restaurants are known best for certain dishes. So, while not all the dishes at the restaurants below are great, they definitely give Penang nasi kandar restaurants a run for their money, some even emerging better and tastier than their Northern counterparts in our books.
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 queue.
Operating since 1969, the restaurant serves only 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 at the busy Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and it opens as early as 7.30 in the morning but the best curries are said to be available from 11 onwards.
Usually, it will take you around 10 minutes for your turn in the queue but during peak hours on weekdays, the line can be twice as long due to the office crowd having their lunch break. Nonetheless, it is worth the wait once you get to taste Kudu’s Ayam Sambal Bawang and Ayam Kicap. Pair these up with Telur Bawang, a few pieces of ladies fingers, and of course the savoury kuah kari campur (mixed curry gravy) — definitely will make your day.
UPPRE’s Recommendation: Ayam Sambal Bawang and Ayam Kicap
Restoran Kudu Bin Abdul
335, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Chow Kit,
50100 Kuala Lumpur.
Monday – Friday: 7.30 am – 8.30 pm
Saturday – Sunday: 7.30 am – 7 pm
(Friday prayer break: 12.45 pm to 2 pm)
2. Restoran Mohd Yaseem
Just a stone’s away from Nasi Kandar Kudu is Restoran Mohd. Yaseem or affectionately known as Nasi Kandar Yaseen.
You still have to queue up in line here but not as long as Kudu’s. While the nasi kandar next door is famous for their chicken, this restaurant serves the best seafood dishes such as 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 if you ask me. Taste-wise, the curry is thick but somehow the seasoning is lacking. Nonetheless, the telur bawang is decadent and goes well with the combination.
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 quest for the best fish head curry, it has to be none other 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 Goodyear Car Workshop.
We ordered a plate of rice with fried chicken and squid, along with the fish head curry gravy. Like everyone said, the curry is the bomb! It is flavoursome and rich — just perfect as it should be.
UPPRE’s Recommendation: Fish Head Curry
Anuar Kari Kepala Ikan
No.2, Lorong Ara Kiri 3, Lucky Garden Bangsar,
59100 Kuala Lumpur.
Monday – Saturday: 9.30 am – 5 pm
Closed on Sundays.
4. Kedai Makan Al-Faris
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 given is Mamak Container as their kitchen is essentially a black shipping container.
Despite the limited space available, we notice that the place always full especially during lunch hour. To the first-timer, it may look just like another typical nasi kandar stall. But to us, Mamak Container is a hidden gem. Not known to many, the bestseller here is its fried chicken. The fried chicken is simply not like any other. 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, which would remind you of your mum’s homey cooking.
UPPRE’s Recommendation: Fried Chicken
Kedai Makan Al-Faris (Mamak Container)
Jalan Doraisamy, Chow Kit, 50300 Kuala Lumpur (Behind MOJO)
With this nasi kandar reporting, we simply conclude that KL has dethroned Penang in the Nasi Kandar league. Hard to believe — but that is the truth.
*All images by UPPRE.