[Penang] Nasi Melayu at Buckingham Street.

“Nasi Melayu”, or Malay-style rice plate is distinct from the more common “Nasi Kandar” sold by the Tamil-Muslims in Penang. Malay curries have Indonesian and Thai influences, with more emphasis on fresh ingredients for its “rempah” (spice mix), e.g. lemongrass, galangal, fresh turmeric root, compared to Indian curries which utilise mainly dry spices like cardamom, fenugreek, cumin & coriander. Also, Malay curries will use “belacan” (fermented shrimp paste) and coconut milk, both of which are not present in Tamil/South Indian curries.

This “Nasi Melayu” stall at Buckingham Street serves some authentic Penang-Malay dishes - one selects the side-dishes from a buffet-like counter, which you serve yourself on your rice plate, then present your selection to the cashier who’d tally up your bill.

  1. My lunch plate: steamed rice with “kari hati ayam” (curried chicken livers), “telur masin” (salted duck’s egg), “kari perut lembu dgn kentang” (curried ox-tripe with potatoes), “kari hati lembu” (curried ox-liver), “peria goreng dengan telur” (stir-fried bittergourd with scrambled eggs) and “labu masak tanghun” (braised snake-gourd with glass noodles).

  1. View of the old Kapitan Keling Mosque on Buckingham Street, from this sidewalk eatery:

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold