Indonesian food has always been one of my preferred Southeast Asian cuisines because of the heavy use of various spices in almost every dish which creates these robust and aromatic flavours that linger on the palates and make me hanker for more. Simply irresistible.
I was recently invited to a food tasting at Warung Kampung, set up by first-time F&B entrepreneur-couple, Singaporean Lowell Leung and his wife from Medan, Suhartini Supianto. Lowell helms the kitchen as head chef as he cooks everything from scratch daily with recipes that he mastered from a family friend in Medan. Authentic cooking from Indonesia indeed with a touch of his own creation and twist to suit the local taste buds. Warung Kampung has only opened for business less than 2 months ago but is already garnering strong support from many regular patrons.
This nasi padang eating house is situated along an inconspicuous stretch of the B1 Central Market at Clarke Quay Central. If you come up from Exit F of Clarke Quay MRT, just turn right – Warung Kampung is just next door to Sticky.
A modest outfit with no frills. The interior of this 24-seat eatery is kept clean and simple that epitomises this down-to-earth approach. Here, only the food matters.
The concept is similar to other nasi padang stalls. You can either pick your choices from their array of different dishes that are priced by individual portion as follows:
$1.00 white rice
$1.50 vegetable/egg balado/begedil
$3.00 bbq chicken/chicken rendang
$3.50 seafood/beef rendang
Or you can opt for their set meals that come with rice and 2 vegetables of your choice at a slightly discounted price. With a set meal ordered, you can also get a Home Made Honey Lemon drink at just $0.80 (original price $1.50).
Here’s a quick glimpse of some of their signature dishes:
The Home Made Honey Lemon drink ($1.50) was a refreshing balance of sweet and sour without being saccharine. Perfect to revive those taste buds and soothe the throat after consuming too much spice.
And these were the dishes that I sampled. An ample variety of meats, seafood and greens.
Not forgetting the fluffy white rice that is an absolute must-have to enjoy all the gravies and sauces with.
The humble looking Sambal Egg Plant was a real delight. Soft, tender, smooth and not mushy at all – exactly the way I liked it. I was also pleasantly surprised to taste hae bee (dried shrimps) in the sambal which apparently was Lowell’s idea to go local. The sambal wasn’t excessively spicy and overall, the dish wasn’t oily too which was another plus point.
The Sambal Long Beans were made with the same sambal sauce and were also less oily than the usual. The beans maintained that crisp in them so you could still hear that resounding crunch when you bite into them.
The Sayur Lodeh gravy was full-bodied and flavoursome. I loved that rich flavour of coconut milk that really was the key to this dish. The cabbage and long beans weren’t overcooked and were still crunchy to the bite.
The Sambal Kangkong was my least preferred vegetable as it was too oily for my liking. Anyway, I’m not a big fan of kangkong in the first place so it’d not be something I’d order normally.
What is nasi padang without the classic potato patties? This Begedil was absolutely scrumptious. Loved the golden brown crust on the outside. The interior was also tender and moist with different textures from the minced chicken and chopped coriander roots. Overall, the patties were very well seasoned and they weren’t greasy too.
This Egg Balado was a real knock out. Hardboiled eggs that were first deep fried before being doused in a sweet and spicy chilli sauce that was deliciously appetising. If you love eggs, this is not to be missed.
This Chicken Rendang was one of the better ones I had in Singapore so far. I was immediately hooked onto the gravy upon my first mouthful. It was redolent of lemongrass that really gave this refreshing scent and it just tasted dynamite. Just the gravy alone with white rice was probably enough to keep me happy, lol. The chicken was also incredibly tender but the skilful balance of spices in the gravy was what rounded off the dish. This rendang was exceedingly tasty and moreish – definitely the star dish of my entire meal!
The Ayam Panggang or BBQ Chicken was a sight of decadence. I thoroughly enjoyed that caramelised crust on the skin with a welcoming smoky flavour. The chicken pieces were well marinated in this sweet and savoury sauce that Lowell had created on his own. Meat was tender, succulent and juicy.
The Beef Rendang was a different rendition from the usual ones I got from other nasi padang stalls. While the gravy was punchy and tasty, I still missed that lusciousness of a thicker spice paste. The beef was rather sinewy and was a little tough to chew.
I thought these Sambal Prawns were a little small in size hence they kind of shrivelled up when cooked so I didn’t get that fresh crunch in them. But the good sambal sauce that was sweet and spicy made up for it.
The Sambal Sotong had the same sambal as the prawns but were just slightly overcooked so some pieces were a little chewy. Overall, I thought the meats fared better than the seafood.
Don’t forget to ask for some Sambal Terasi (it’s free!) to go with your dishes if you need that extra kick of spice. It’s a pity they don’t serve keropok because I would have paired them with this thick and pasty sambal that was hot with plenty of chilli seeds.
Overall, it was a gratifying meal that I’d definitely come back for. I highly recommend their chicken rendang, ayam panggang, begedil, egg balado, sambal egg plant and sayur lodeh. The combination of sugar and spice in their rempah was well tweaked to suit the taste of locals. Everything was aromatic, flavoursome and spicy but not in an alarmingly manner that sends a fiery kick to our sinuses so we could enjoy every dish without compromising on quality. This is ideal for those who have lower tolerance to spice.
This nasi padang might not be the cheapest meal in the mall but we all know how much work and effort goes into the making of the spice paste from scratch for every dish as well as the hours put in to cook the proteins so they could be tender and palatable. It’s definitely no ordinary chap chye png (mixed rice) because they are of different leagues. With that, I think this nasi padang is still considered value-for-money.
PS: Thank you Tini for the invite and hospitality.
6 Eu Tong Sen Street
#B1-56, Central Clarke Quay
Tel: 8666 6699
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WarungKampungCentral
Opening hours: 11.00am to 8.00pm daily