Pangkor Island Nasi Lemak: Malaysian-style coconut rice with lemon satay fish & lemongrass chicken at Canberra
I’ve been wanting to patronise Pangkor Island Nasi Lemak located at Bukit Canberra Hawker Centre for the longest time since its opening… and I finally did! The stall dishes out plates of Malaysian-style coconut rice with unique sides which you don’t usually get at other places.
I’ve heard about Pangkor Island but do not have much knowledge about the place. Whilst waiting in the queue, I did a quick read-up and this was what I learnt in a nutshell.
It’s an island in Perak, Malaysia, which is filled with beaches and fisheries. Its well-known foods include seafood and chee cheong fun (that’s all I needed to know).
What I tried at Pangkor Island Nasi Lemak
Since Pangkor Island is famous for seafood, I decided to try the Nyonya Nasi Lemak Lemon Satay Fish Set (S$7.90).
The dish consisted of the lemon satay fish being served separately on a plate, a pretty pastel blue mound of coconut rice, achar, half a boiled egg, peanuts and ikan bilis sambal.
The lemon satay fish was a huge piece of fried fish fillet soaked in a deep-coloured gravy, and smothered with a generous showering of fried shallots, raw shallots and slices of chilli padi.
Upon my first bite, the fish was delightfully crispy on the outside and lusciously on the soft inside. The gravy treated my taste buds to a multifaceted explosion of flavour. It began with the sweet and sour notes coming from the tamarind followed by a delicate smoky caress at the end.
Just when I thought the ride was over, the dynamic duo of raw and fried shallots gave a savoury and spicy surprise attack while the heat coming from the chilli padi slices gave its grand finale— it was an adventure for sure!
The ikan bilis sambal had tons of onion slices which gave the umami-rich anchovies some bursts of sweetness. I appreciated that the sambal was slightly diluted, which acted like a gravy. This allowed me to spoon it over the aromatic blue pea nasi lemak. The combination was delicious.
I then moved on to my next dish, the Nyonya Nasi Lemak Lemongrass Chicken Set (S$6.90). Except for the difference in meat, the rest of the condiments mimicked the previous dish. The lemongrass chicken came in an entire thigh portion and resembled an ayam goreng berampah.
The skin was extremely flavourful and crispy with bits of aromatic lemongrass, fried curry leaves and various other spices. However, that being said, the meat inside was on the other end of the spectrum (bland and not marinated well).
Thankfully, the little pile of achar by the side gave it some acidic bursts of excitement which made the dish more delectable.
Alas, I reached the final dish, the Pangkor Island Chee Cheong Fun (S$2.50). Due to the fact that this was another of the Malaysian island’s specialty dishes, I was secretly excited.
I was low-key shocked when I saw the dish being served on my tray. The plating wasn’t really appealing and I would’ve preferred if the rice sheets weren’t cut up into small pieces. It just looked like a globby mess and my inner ex-chef self was nitpicking on it.
I took my first mouthful and unfortunately, it didn’t wow me at all. It tasted like our local old-school chee cheong fun with its red sweet sauce, sesame seeds and fried shallots. I could count the number of mushrooms with 1 hand and the minced meat was too fine for it to be detected— what a downer.
After my visit to Pangkor Island Nasi Lemak, I will presume that the seafood items are their forte, judging from the awesome lemon satay fish which I had tried.
I’ll be looking forward to trying their sambal chilli fish, sambal prawn and turmeric rice (totally missed out on that) on my next visit.
Expected damage: S$3 – S$9 per pax
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