The Nasi Lemak Seller


(McD have the both the rice and the burger but both are priced at a level I would say ridiculous for a nasi lemak. For the same price, I can get 3-4 items more on a nasi lemak and still got spare cash for nasi tambah. Image source: McDonalds Malaysia)

One of the biggest problems that we face during the fasting month is the difficulty to get a good nasi lemak for breakfast. The usual morning nasi lemak stalls are closed for the month.

We can still get the usual nasi lemak from the nearest kedai Mamak (the sorry looking sambal that they splash on the plain rice is the same dumb sambal that they put on the roti canai, so the sambal is nothing special and probably is not fresh too. Same goes for the nuts and the anchovies) but it is not the same with the one that I usually buy from the old Makcik at the road side stall and has a really spicy sambal (you know I hate sweet sambal – read the post here).

Last two weekends ago, we decided to have our dinner outside but instead our usual hang-out place, we decided to look for a new place. We were getting bored with our usual place. I google out and found a small food court on the way to my sister’s house. The reviews on the net look “reasonable” too. When we arrived, we noticed that most of the tables were taken up but 2 tables nearer to the road were empty. There were plenty of stalls but considering it to be a new place; we decided to go with something safe – fried keow teow, noodles and satay. Just when we decided to leave, I noticed one stall that we missed earlier – a nasi lemak kukus stall with several containers for the extra ingredients and yes, my favorite – sotong sambal and kerang rendang was available. Since we were full, we decided to try nasi lemak the next time around.

Last weekend, we were back against at the food court and instead of looking at other food this time around, we headed straight to the nasi lemak stall. An old lady was manning the stall so it reminded me of the old Makcik from my favorite place. I had high hopes. Instead of eating at the food court, we decided to pack up and eat at home whilst watching a good movie. Usually a nasi lemak kosong with sambal packed separately will cost us RM1 to RM1.50 (correct me if I am wrong) and if add the other sambal here and there, it probably cost us RM10 – RM15 for 5 packets.

We informed the lady at the stall that we just wanted “nasi lemak biasa” and immediately we sensed trouble – she looked a bit blurred when we said nasi lemak kosong and sambal packed separately. I had a feeling that there must be a floor rate for each plate she sells – there is a minimum that she needs to charge per plate and probably she had never sell nasi lemak biasa. My wife took the trouble to explain in plain English and then Bahasa.

I think after some time, she finally understood what we wanted as we saw her packing up just the rice, roasted nuts, slices of cucumber and half of a boiled egg but when we are not “looking”, she quickly packed one whole boiled egg in some of the packs (so sneaky of her). When we point out that we only need a small slice of the boiled egg and not the whole egg, she acted like she did not understand and continue to pack up (later I found she charge RM1 for one whole egg, so half means RM0.50). I was not happy of the fact that she was charging us separately for the eggs in nasi lemak when it should be part & parcel of the whole package. At that point, I was even wondering if she is going to charge us separately for the roasted nuts and the sambal (she did charge us for the sambal in the end also).

Obviously she rarely does packed meals for her customers. Then she looked even more blurred when she want to pack up the sambal. Looking “blur” may have been part of the act, I guess. So my wife had to step-in to explain again. And whilst this was going on, I did mental calculation on the cost – I had a feeling that it is not going to be cheap. Then two other customers came over and as they are filling up their plates, I was keen to know the cost of their plates because they did not take much – one cost about RM8.90 and another was just under RM7.00.

In the end, there were 5 packs of nasi lemak kosong, one small pack sambal (enough for 3 people) and one pack of kerang rendang ready on the table. It was time to calculate the total price – how difficult it is going to be right? The old lady took out her calculator and I looked at my wife – somewhat my earlier suspicion that it is not going to be cheap may be to be proved to be true.

With a calculator at hand, she charged us RM3.50 for the nasi lemak kosong with half egg whilst the nasi lemak kosong with a full boiled egg, she charged us even extra – RM4.00. The kerang rendang which was not much (if you ask me – most of it was gravy and not the actual kerang), she whacked RM10 for that alone. In the end, we ended up paying almost RM30 for the whole package. Ok lah, minus the kerang rendang (RM10), the price is about RM4 per pack of nasi lemak – which is the same as how some Mamak restaurant will charge for a nasi lemak biasa.

But what about the taste – terrible if you ask me! I had better tasting nasi lemak for far less price. This is the problem some people are having – not only the food tastes terrible, they charge their customers ridiculous price for it too – I don’t think the lady is interested to get & retain new customers (especially one is crazy about nasi lemak). It would have been a different story if the taste had been out of this world – I have no problem paying good money for good food. It is for sure that we are not going back to this stall again.

Good thing, the fasting month is ending soon and the good old Makcik will be back to open her stall.

Selamat Hari Raya and Happy Holidays to all

 

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