Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wok and Barrel .... where it's cool to eat Nasi Lemak

After hearing all the raves and the urging from friends, I decided to visit Wok & Barrel on Duxton Hill to try their Madam Tan's famous Nasi Lemak. Wok & Barrel sits in a conservation house and in a district that's bursting with beer taps and restaurants. I was here with 2 of my colleagues at 12 noon when the restaurant open it's doors and we were their first customers.

Decor inside Wok & Barrel was white washed walls with industrial cement screed floor. Modern curvaceous designer white chairs with tables covered with white table cloth filled the dining area. 

Parts of the dining area rest under the air well of the conservation house that let in natural day light. While you bask in the natural light from outside, double insulated glass panels capping the air well keep the air cool air in the dining area. Cool is good when you know what you're getting from Shen Tan's Nasi Lemak. 

Shen Tan is the owner and chef of Wok & Barrel. This former Director of Forbes who used to be spotted in corporate suits followed her passion for food and took the dive to start up Madam Tan's Nasi Lemak, where she began her life as a hawker in Maxwell Food Centre. Now, Shen has transformed the popular Madam Tan's Nasi Lemak from a hawker stall into a chic modern Singaporean restaurant. The venue and the concept may change but her passion for food still sizzles. Shen's still doning her 'Got Lemak?' T-shirt while serving the Shen style Nasi Lemak, now in a chic white plate rather than the green leaf motif plastic tray during the Madam Tan days. As a prelude, I brought with me, my colleagues, P and MP to try Wok & Barrel's  Nasi Lemak sets. 

My choice was the Crispy Chicken Nasi Lemak Set. The boneless chicken thigh was marinated for 24 hours and then fried till a good crisp that still leave the meat juicy and succulent. Oh my! Haven't had such good Nasi Lemak for a long while!

P ordered the 5 Spice Pork Nasi Lemak. This is Wok & Barrel's signature pork confit with 5 spice rub. The pork was slightly sweetened by the rub and very tender.

MP ordered the Curry Chicken Nasi Lemak. MP is a Malaysian from KL and has occasional gripes about how certain food in Singapore should be made like how it is done in KL. Even he thought that Shen style Nasi Lemak was really something. The curry was thick, rich and so LEMAK! 

All the Nasi Lemak sets comes with Nasi Lemak Rice, omelette, cucumber, Ikan Bilis, Sambal Belachan, Sambal Tumis and their own Asian Coleslaw. We were impressed by the Lemak rice. Shen cooked the nasi with Jasmine rice and it was fragrant from the ginger and coconut milk. The rice was perfectly cooked such that the grains were soft and non of them seemed to clot together. The other essential of Nasi Lemak is the chilli. Wok & Barrel served up the Sambal Tumis which is the sweetened type typically provided with Nasi Lemak, as well as Sambal Belachan. The Sambal belachan was a real kick. P who wasn't a chilli lover was puffing and sweating from the spiciness even though we were eating in an air conditioned dining area. MP, who didn't have a relatively strong stomach, really liked the chilli. He polished them off even if if means have the lingering spiciness in the stomach. The coleslaw was a refreshing sides to balance the spiciness.

We left Wok & Barrel impressed by their Nasi Lemak. However, we learnt that Nasi Lemak is not the only indulgence from Wok & Barrel. There's also the Lamb Char Siew, Bak Chor Mee Pasta (available for dinner) and even Shendol (Shen style chendol). With this impressionable prelude to Wok & Barrel, another visit to indulge in Shen's renditions of other Singapore's local delights would be imperative.

13 Duxton Hill
Tel : +65 6220 0595

Opening Hours : 
Tue~Sat 12pm~9.30pm
Sun 12pm~3pm

Wok & Barrel Website

1 comment:

A Brown Table said...

Wow, that looks delicious. Great review of the restaurant. Now I know where to go when I get a chance to visit!


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