Lemak Boys by Les Amis, Lido: It is Delicious. We Won’t Be Back.

The Peranakan restaurant Indigo Blue, also run by Les Amis Group, has lent a third of its space to Lemak Boys at Lido Shaw. Lemak Boys is created by Indigo Blue alumni, Chong Jun Xiang, Daniel Gan, and Martin Tan. All of them are about 30 years old and were classmates at the Culinary Institute of America’s Singapore. They worked at Michelin-starred Alma by Juan Almador, Yoyogi, and Ushidoki Wagyu Kaisek (my favorite Japanese beef restaurant) before reuniting at Indigo Blue.

The menu is simple: nasi lemak or laksa, both their signatures. Or there are chicken rendang rice ($12.50), prawn Assam curry rice ($15), and tumeric fish curry rice ($16).

Premium Nasi Lemak Set

The nasi lemak comes in two prices: $12.50 (regular) or $18.50 (premium). The main difference between the two is the premium version comes with a bowl of prawns Assam curry. We opted for the premium version.

The most important thing about nasi lemak is the coconut-pandan rice, and the boys nailed it. The flavours come on strongly and each fluffy grain of rice is separated from the other (somehow this is important in fried rice but it is also nice for coconut rice). The sambal is also stellar, not too spicy but full of spices.

Other ingredients on the plate include a vegetable omelette (meh.), roasted peanuts, fried anchovies, sliced cucumber, otah otah, and chicken berempah. The last two deserve elaboration.

The Peranakan-styled otah otah is probably the best in Singapore, pillowy and creamy where it needs to be, but still retaining the integrity of the fish. Unfortunately, this otah otah comes from a supplier; they did not make it themselves.

The chicken berempah is disappointing. For something so expensive, it comes cold whereas Coconut Club freshly fries it upon ordering. They didn’t marinade it long enough such that the flavours touch the surface of the skin, but don’t penetrate further. The flesh is bland.

The premium set comes with a bowl of prawns Assam curry, which is awesome. The flavours are deep and complex; taramind is especially refreshing. Too bad the prawns didn’t taste fresh; limp and powdery.

Premium laksa

For the Laksa, it comes in regular ($12.50) or premium ($18.50). The latter has ONE additional king prawn and clams. We went for the premium. Other items in the laksa include small prawns, tau pok, bean sprouts, boiled egg, and fish cake.

The seafood here is fresh. The prawns are sweet and firm, the clams without any gunk.

But the most important thing for any laksa is the broth. This one is rich and creamy and grainy. Intense and super delicious. We drank till the last drop. In the broth, there is a savoury sambal, different from the nasi lemak sweet sambal. Kudos to them for taking the effort to make two kinds of sambals.

That said, paying $18.50 for laksa is super bo-hua. I’ll never do that again.

Not chendol, it’s chendol PUDDING.

We saw the server carrying bowls of chendol to other tables, so we ordered it too. But unfortunately, the chendol is for Indigo Blue whereas Lemak Boy serves chendol pudding ($3). I don’t know why they bother doing extra work to create another dessert when nobody likes chendol pudding. Just serve chendol here.

It is inevitable that people compare Lemak Boys to the Coconut Club, both serving upscale nasi lemak. On the whole, Coconut Club’s food is much better–cooked freshly on the spot–whereas Lemak Boys already pre-cooked their food. But at least Lemak Boy gives better service and doesn’t discriminate expats and locals.

While the food at Lemak Boys is good, there is good nasi lemak everywhere and my accountant (by accountant, I mean my partner lol) said it is simply not worth paying rent for upscale nasi lemak which is 4 to 5 times the price of nasi lemak at hawker centres. Support small businesses, right? Maybe I’ll return when I’m a millionaire.

I lost the receipt, but I think we paid about $45 for two pax.

Lemak Boys
Lido Shaw Centre #03-10, 1 Scotts Road, Singapore 228208
t: +65 6235 3218
11.30am – 2.30pm, 6pm – 9pm, daily

Food: 7.25/10
Decor / ambience: 6.5/10
Service: 6.5/10

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Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.

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