Nasi Padang is the quintessential cuisine of the Minangkabau people of West Sumatra in Indonesia and its name is derived from the capital city of Padang. Padang cuisine is well known for its heavy use of spices, chillies and coconut milk that give food robust and aromatic flavours.
I haven’t been to Padang before, neither have I tried enough Nasi Padang to know what’s authentic or not. But there’s something unique about Rumah Makan Minang that completely brings Nasi Padang to a different level. We are so used to Malay-style Nasi Padang from food centres and coffee shops here in Singapore but as their dishes are made to suit the local taste buds, they tend to be less spicy and a tad too sweet.
Rumah Makan Minang, which is located next to the Sultan Mosque, is a halal Indonesian restaurant that specialises in Minangkabau cuisine. This is a no-frills, open-air corner coffee shop with an air-conditioned dining room on the second level.
Be prepared to wait as the queue is always long. And it’s always advisable to have someone to reserve a table first while you queue.
Just before you order your food, you can catch a glimpse of the menu and plan what dishes you’re going to get. Unfortunately, due to the constant influx of customers, some of the popular dishes go pretty fast at peak lunch or dinner times so you may not get what you want.
Ordering is simple. Just tell the service staff how many persons you’re ordering for, point to the dishes that catch your fancy and they will scoop them right up in plates and dishes and transfer onto a tray for you to bring to the cashier right in front. Order your drinks and make your payment. They will get someone to send the food to where you are seated. Good service.
I’m a big fan of beancurd and tempeh (fermented soy beans) and this is one signature dish that you just cannot miss. The sambal sauce is to die for! It really adds a punch to these otherwise bland vegetables and make it super appetising with heat and spices aroma.
The chicken rendang is a little different from others I’ve tried because of its rempah (spice paste). It is not as sweet, and has a dense galangal and shallots taste and of course a very rich coconut milk flavour too. The only downside of this is that it is too oily. Just look at the oil at the bottom of the plate.
This is just lip-smacking good! Again, the rempah is not too sweet and has the right blend of spices that has infused the soft and tender beef so each bite is simply flavoursome. Clearly the star of the entire meal. For $3.50, we only get 3 miserable small cubes of beef. Wish the portion can be bigger!
These are mashed potato balls that are coated with egg and deep fried. Each ball has a lovely fragrance from the shallots and the potato is so soft and tender, it almost melts in your mouth. Makes a great snack on its own.
I love the use of fresh red chillies in this that gives a nice fiery kick. The ikan bilis (dried anchovies) are not deep fried to complete crisp like others do so while you can taste a slight crunch, there is also a chewy bite to it. Combined with the crunchy peanuts and tempeh, this is just irresistible!
Don’t forget to request for some complimentary belacan chilli to go with your meal if you love spice as much as I do. I spoon this concoction over whatever’s on my plate and just mix with the rempah from the two rendang dishes. Utterly speechless, unbelievably delicious.
For 2 persons, we paid $19 for this meal. Nasi padang is never cheap even though the dishes may look mediocre. It’s just the way it is. I remembered how my Granny used to go through all the trouble and effort to make her own rempah, now I understand what actually goes behind such traditional cooking so the steep pricing is well justified.
For the best of Malay culinary tradition, this place is not to be missed.
Rumah Makan Minang
18 & 18A Kandahar Street
Tel: 6294 4805
Mon-Fri 7.00am to 8.00pm
Sat-Sun 7.00am to 5.00pm
(Closed on PH)