1. It is easy to take it away and not messy to eat since it comprises of compacted rice and is wrapped in a conical shaped banana leaf.
2. It is spicy! I love the fire in the sweet gravy. All the ingredients contain some element of spiciness such as the serunding daging (beef floss), gulai ikan (fish curry) or shrimp and bits of curry chicken sandwiched inside the banana leaf, fusing into the rice and adding flavour and heat to the dish.
3. It is a complete meal in one. I can hear the carbohydrate lovers swooning! The smooth starchy rice comes with my favourite side dishes such as egg/omelette, meat, cucumber and lots of curry sauce. The perfect balanced meal!
4. It travels well. You can take it away for a picnic and it does not take up much space when packed because it has been compacted into a tight cone. In the past, Nasi Tumpang was more functional than anything else – it was packed this way because it was easy to transport food out to the fields for the workers.
5. It is creative and great for parties. The next time you need to bring some food to a potluck, bring nasi tumpang. It saves you the hassle of preparing several dishes and packing them separately. Also, your hosts will love you for it because it looks really cool and requires fewer plates to serve it up. (Less washing up after!)
Recently, Paranoid Android, A lil Fatmonkey and myself went on the hunt for some good Malay Food and we came across this place called Wau Penyu in Solaris Dutamas. Speaking to the owner, we found out that the name is such because of the origins of the owners, the Boyfriend and Girlfriend team , who were from Kelantan (Wau is from Kelantan) and Terrenganu (Penyu is from Terrenganu). How very creative. We took to the place almost immediately.
The food they served at Wau Penyu was really delicious and all three of us agreed that anyone looking for great Terrenganu -Kelantanese food should check out this restaurant. Apart from the Nasi Tumpang that was made to perfection -that smooth compact rice with just the right consistency and all its gorgeous side dishes, they also make fantastic Laksam and Nasi Kerabu.
Paranoid Android found the Laksam just so-so saying that it had too much coconut milk and not enough fish, but I liked it. Laksam actually resembles cubes of rice served in a fishy white coconut milk curry. Traditionally, it is served with raw leaves and vegetables, i.e. ulam.
The Nasi Kerabu was also a real winner. Nasi Kerabu literally means ‘rice salad’. Kelantan has a variety of Nasi Kerabu and it is evident in the color of the rice. Nasi kerabu biasa (normal) or nasi kerabu putih is white in color and normally comes with sambal tumis (a special coconut milk based gravy with local herbs and spices, with a hint of chillies). There is also the more unusual Nasi kerabu Hitam – black rice, allthough the actual color is blue. After the rice is soaked and cooked with a local flower, it gives this gorgeous characteristic blue- black color although now a days, some people use artificial coloring equivalents. There is also a nasi kerabu kuning that is yellow in color and employs turmeric in the preparation of the rice.
The nasi kerabu normally comes with a watery chilly sauce, and salad that could be any vegetables or edible leaves though the more or less standard version will have taugeh (bean sprouts), long green beans, bunga kantan(torch ginger flower), cucumber and even the kadok and kesum leaf. Apart from that it can also be served with keropok (fish crackers), egg, solok lada (fish fillet and coconut-stuffed chillies), and pickled garlic (local gherkins). Extremely addictive and spicy. Be prepared to sweat buckets eating Malay food because it is cathartic!
Last but not least , no lunch spread is complete without the Nasi Dagang, and although the three of use were pretty full by then ,we just had to try it at Wau Penyu. Nasi dagang is another fantastically tasty dish, consisting of rice steamed in coconut milk, fish curry and extra ingredients such as fried shaved coconut, solok lada, hard-boiled eggs and vegetable pickles. It is a well-known breakfast food in the states on the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, such as Terengganu and Kelantan. The most famous Nasi dagang of Terengganu comes from a place called Kampung Ladang, an area within the Kuala Terengganu district. I have not tried the one from Kampung Ladang but my colleague who covers the East Coast says it’s truly the best. The nasi Dagang at Wau Penyu was good, but perhaps a little overshadowed by the Nasi Kerabu and the Nasi Tumpang.
Well, that concludes our wonderful lunch outing to Solaris Dutamas. The food as Wau Penyu was great and we will definitely be back to try more goodies in the near future.Add: Wau Penyu, A3-G1-03, No.1, Jalan Dutamas 1, Solaris Dutamas Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 603 6207 9177