“You’re going to queue at 4am for nasi lemak?” responded my group of friends in unison when I nonchalantly informed them of my breakfast plans to Nasi Lemak Beratur Maluri. I shrugged while I watched them shake their heads in disbelief.
For those of you who have never heard of Nasi Lemak Beratur Maluri, this legendary nasi lemak stall in Cheras has been around for more than 25 years, dishing out aromatic rice cooked in coconut milk with various side dishes.
Helmed by 57-year-old Rahmah Bujai, her nasi lemak is so popular that the stall only operates for two hours daily, opening at 4am and selling out by 6am. Or sometimes as early as 5.30am. Is this the hottest-selling nasi lemak in town? And was it worth sacrificing my sleep for? I was about to find out.
What I tried at Nasi Lemak Beratur Maluri
Nothing could have prepared me for the strange sight at Nasi Lemak Beratur Maluri. At 3am on a Friday, there were about 30 hungry customers sitting (then standing) on the pavements along the 7-Eleven next door. But there was no nasi lemak stall in sight.
“The stall only opens at 4am. But people queue as early as midnight. Have a seat meanwhile,” smiled a customer sitting against the wall, looking at my quizzical face. He was surely a regular customer.
I smiled in response and took my seat next to him, knowing full well that my back would not take kindly to the cold, hard wall. By 4am, the queue had amassed over a 100 hungry customers. I couldn’t believe my eyes— just how good is this nasi lemak?
A red Wira drives by and everyone quickly jumps up— this can only mean one thing: the nasi lemak proprietors are here. Within minutes, the smell of freshly-cooked sambal fills the air.
There’s a smorgasbord of mouth-watering side dishes to go with your nasi lemak: Sambal Sotong, Ayam Masak Merah, Chicken Rendang, Beef Rendang, Sambal Kerang, Fried Egg, Fried Chicken, Paru Goreng and Bee Hoon (if you don’t feel like inhaling rice at 4am).
My go-to nasi lemak order is always with a side of fried chicken and sambal kerang but I couldn’t resist switching it up for the chicken rendang which looked heavenly. To that, I added the paru goreng (many of the customers had recommended it) and the sambal kerang because I absolutely love cockles.
Firstly, I was impressed by the portion of rice and size of the chicken thigh— the auntie definitely doesn’t stinge on ingredients. So I was really stunned when the price totalled to just RM12, which for KL standards is really affordable. I quickly understood why this little nasi lemak stall had such a huge loyal following.
There is no dining in at Nasi Lemak Beratur Maluri so I got into my car and sped home, my stomach growling. I wasted no time and unwrapped the precious contents and honestly, there’s nothing better than the smell of nasi lemak at 5am. The rice was fluffy and rich with aromatics like pandan, lemongrass and ginger.
I was pleased that the sambal was more savoury than sweet. However, I would have loved for the sambal to have been spicier. Now for the chicken rendang— it was incredibly tender and flavourful. The gravy was rich with coconut milk and there was a distinct taste of lemongrass.
Next was the sambal kerang (cockles) which I’m sad to say had left me slightly disappointed. However, I believe this was due to the size of the cockles which were rather tiny so it didn’t have that usual delicious earthy bite.
But then again for RM12, how can I argue about such minor details, right. I didn’t enjoy the paru (lungs), which I found to be rather tough and chewy.
That aside, the fluffy rice doused in aromatic spicy sambal and crunchy anchovies and chicken rendang was simply irresistible.
Heed these tips if you want a successful nasi lemak trip:
Always double and triple check Nasi Lemak Beratur Maluri’s Facebook page for updates on their opening/closing days. I learnt this the hard way after visiting the stall, only to discover that it was shut.
The optimum time to arrive is around 3am. Sure, you will have to wait for an hour but you’ll get side dishes of your choice without fear of them running out.
Each customer is only allowed a maximum of 3 packets of nasi lemak. This is to ensure that those queuing will get a taste of the nasi lemak.
Now, for the most important question: Was it worth queuing for at 3am? For the fun of it, yes. Bring a couple of friends and it’s a true Malaysian foodie experience. It wasn’t super amazing but one thing’s for sure, you’ll get your money’s worth.
Expected damage: RM5 – RM15 per pax
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