What? $12.80 for a plate of nasi lemak! That’s crazy!”
That is a common response you’d get about this popular coconut rice meal, usually served with sambal.
Chef Lee Eng Su, who worked in chic French restaurants around the world before opening The Coconut Club here, found inspiration from the Kuala Lumpur-style nasi lemak in Village Park Restaurant in Damansara.
The place was said to be frequented by former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Chef Lee found a recipe online, tweaked it, and that was the start of his success story.
Six months after The Coconut Club’s opening late last year, queues can still be seen every day.
I visited The Coconut Club an hour before closing on a Saturday afternoon, and there was still a queue at the door.
Apart from the crispy chicken, Chef Lee’s sambal was also outstanding. There was a kick to it despite its sweet undertone at first taste. The chilli-sting crept up on me and lingered for a while.
The rice was fluffy, loose and did not have too much lemak as it was meant to be enjoyed with roasted peanuts, crispy ikan bilis, fried chicken (ayam goreng berempah), fried sunny side up egg and a few slices of Thai cucumber.
Sides are available, and I was told some were off-menu, so you just have to ask for the daily specials.
The Coconut Club is an appealing addition to the growing hipster cafe scene in Singapore.
The place has a kopitiam-style kopi bar, and a raised centrepiece community table in the middle that lends an undulating multi-level look to the organised hipster chaos.
Chef Lee (below) said he “spent a bomb on renovations”, and though the place looks good, The Coconut Club is jam-packed because of the nasi lemak and the honest, frank service, and nothing else.