Nasi Lemak holds no fascination for me because it tastes more or less the same everywhere. But when fellow food enthusiast, Daniel Food Diary, decreed for me to go, the eunuch dared not disobey the emperor’s edict.
At the door, Madam Kwan herself greeted us! Which got Daniel jumping excitedly. His excitement was infectious.
The decor was surprisingly classy, with gold (my favorite color) being the focus, opening out to a river view at the end of the restaurant.
Although it was full house, the service was particularly good too: there were ample attentive servers walking around. When we asked for bowls, the servers delivered them immediately. When we left, they thanked us. Special compliments to the Malay male server with brown eyes and eyeliner, who was efficient and bubbly.
Although the food was halal, they did not get halal certification because they serve beer. Daniel, who has visited the Malaysian outlet, said that the food was similar in taste but in Singapore, we have a better ambience. In general, Madam Kwan’s food was salty in a refreshing and positive way, rather than sweet and spicy. For example, the sambal was salty, not sweet and not spicy. The belachan kangkong ($10.90, below) was also deliciously salty from the hae bee hiam (prawn paste), but not spicy. Even the otak otak ($15.90, below) was savory with chunks of fish but not spicy.
The only mildly spicy item is the curry chicken, which can be ordered as a dish or in a nasi lemak ($13.90, pictured above). The curry chicken was tough for us but everything else on the plate was pretty delightful. I’d prefer the rice to be more lemak (coconuty) and less dry.
The nasi bojari ($18.90, above) was better and came with several items: The ayam goreng (fried chicken) was very moist within, the assam prawns was slightly sourish, and the shredded beef rendang was pleasing.
We ended with cendal ($4.90), which was very simple, just green jelly, red bean, coconut milk and gula melaka. Very simple but very good, very fine ice with very very thick coconut milk.
We spent $80 for two or $40 for one. OUCH! Which we thought was rather expensive. Although the ambience, service, and food were all great, I don’t know if I, cheapskate, am willing to pay so much money for hawker fare. But if I do return next time, I want to try the satay (starting from $11.90 for 6 sticks) and Assam fish head ($49) which we saw two women finishing it.
Madam Kwan’s Singapore
1 Harbourfront Walk #01-155 Vivocity
T: 6271 9989 (reservations allowed)
Rating: 3.419/5 stars
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.