“I’m going to Spicy Wife today,” I told my colleagues with a chuckle. Their response: “Spicy what?!”
Yes, that’s right. Spicy Wife. That’s the name of the newly-opened nasi lemak stall at Amoy Street Food Centre, which started business on 9 Nov 2022.
Despite being only 2 months old, Spicy Wife Nasi Lemak has managed to garner a decent fan base thanks to its gigantic Malaysian-style ayam goreng berempah that’s not only delicious, but wallet-friendly as well.
It’s not often that a stall name evokes chuckles from me, but Spicy Wife Nasi Lemak did the trick. You can find it on the second floor of Amoy Street Food Centre, and its glaringly bright yellow signboard makes the stall impossible to miss.
It’s also located right opposite the famous Han Kee Fish Soup, which draws queues so long that it often snakes out to the main aisle of the hawker centre.
Spicy Wife Nasi Lemak is single-handedly run by a Malaysian-born hawker, Yeak Hong Yi, who decided to name the stall after the many spices and herbs that are used in the making of his Malaysian-style nasi lemak, as well as his wife, who was supportive of his venture.
What’s so special about his Malaysian-style nasi lemak? The ayam goreng berempah (spiced fried chicken), of course, which is marinated overnight in a rempah made of 8 ingredients like lemongrass and cumin seeds.
What I tried at Spicy Wife Nasi Lemak
I started the ball rolling with Spicy Wife Nasi Lemak’s signature dish: Aromatic Chicken Set Meal (S$5.50), which came with a gigantic spice-rubbed fried chicken leg, rice, a sunny side-up, ikan bilis, peanuts, and a dollop of housemade sambal.
Just based on first impressions alone, I didn’t know whether to be impressed or worried. While the portions were so large that it easily made the Aromatic Chicken Set Meal instantly worth its price point, Spicy Wife Nasi Lemak’s ayam goreng berempah looked burnt thanks to its blackened skin, leading me to wonder if the meat would be tender or dry.
Thankfully, a quick pry into the meat revealed tender and moist chicken meat. The spices from the marinade permeated the flesh so well that every bite was aromatic and delicious, and before I knew it, I was digging into the giant ayam goreng berempah as if I hadn’t eaten in days. Too yummy!
The skin of the ayam goreng berempah was superbly thin and crisp, and it was after my first bite that I learnt that it wasn’t burnt at all— instead, it was Spicy Wife Nasi Lemak’s blend of spices that took on a dark brown, almost black colour after being deep fried.
I’ve got to admit, this really surprised me. The skin was wonderfully aromatic, with just the right amount of seasoning to create a salty, savoury and roasted mix of flavours. I could even see remnants of the marinade on the crisp skin in little dots and specks! Not to mention, it had just the right amount of fat, making each piece of chicken skin positively addictive.
While the rice was cooked perfectly, its flavours were lighter than expected. I could taste a faint creaminess from the coconut milk and pandan leaves, but I wished it had been more lemak to go with the flavourful ayam goreng berempah.
The housemade sambal, on the other hand, was delectably lethal, and I loved every single bit of it. This is the type of sambal I enjoy the most— it’s sweet at first thanks to the onions, but the biting spice follows quickly, with an addictively fiery kick that carries over to your next bite.
Eventually, I found that mixing the sambal into the lightly perfumed rice made for the best combination.
Spicy Wife Nasi Lemak’s nasi lemak sets come accompanied by your usual suspects: ikan bilis, pan-roasted peanuts, slices of cucumber, and an egg. These were decent additions to the meal and gave each spoonful of nasi lemak plenty of spice, crunch and salt, but the star of the plate was undoubtedly the jumbo-sized ayam goreng berempah.
Spicy Wife Nasi Lemak’s menu is quite small and only has 4 items. Apart from the Aromatic Chicken Set Meal, I decided to try the priciest item on its menu as well: Mutton Rendang Set Meal (S$6.50).
Interestingly, the mutton rendang came in bite-sized cubes, as opposed to the typical large rectangular blocks.
These were so delicious that I couldn’t stop eating. Each bite-sized piece of mutton rendang had just the right amount of fat and meat, creating satisfying bites that were soft and tender. The gravy was very lemak, with plenty of coconut cream and spices like cloves and star anise.
More importantly, I loved how saucy it was. The gravy was the single element of the dish that combined everything together, making every spoonful deliciously aromatic. Not to mention, the lemak gravy added plenty of flavour to the light rice, easily saving it from its demise.
Portion sizes alone already made a plate of nasi lemak from Spicy Wife Nasi Lemak worth its price, but I was surprised to learn that its flavours were pretty decent too. For just S$5.50, you’re really getting your money’s worth: a gigantic ayam goreng berempah that’s deliciously spiced, crispy and tender, and a serving size that’s generous and will certainly leave you stuffed.
My only gripe would be its rice, which could definitely afford to be more lemak. But then again, I solved that problem easily by either mixing in the housemade sambal or choosing Spicy Wife Nasi Lemak’s rendang dishes instead. Overall, a really decent place for ayam goreng berempah. Plus, considering Spicy Wife Nasi Lemak is barely two months old, I’d say that its future looks pretty promising!
Expected damage: S$3.50 – S$6.50 per pax
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