Named after the founder, Madam Kwan's serves up 'Truly Malaysian Cuisine', so goes its tagline. Much hype surrounds Madam Kwan's since news were announced that the popular restaurant chain from Malaysia would open their very first overseas outlet in Singapore. We do not have to travel all the way to Kuala Lumpur to eat their famed nasi lemak anymore, the signature dish has now come to us in Vivocity! I've colleagues in KL who told me that the food standard throughout its KL branches are consistently good, whereas friends in Singapore's first comment would usually be "Very expensive here!". It's because of the latter reason that my BFF refused to come to Madam Kwan's with me. "You crazy arh, pay so much for nasi lemak?" he said. Well, I'm not crazy lah, I just want to try the dish for myself and form my own opinion.
Thanks to fellow bloggers Derrick, Nat and FC who organized this makan outing, I finally get to taste Madam's Kwan Nasi Lemak ($13.90)! I was blown away by the rice which was soooooooo good! Infused with a rich coconut fragrance, the steamed rice was intensely aromatic and wonderfully fluffy, with a not-too-dry, not-too-soft, not-too-hard texture which suits me just nicely. I can almost eat it on its own! But of course I didn't, for it's served alongside with two pieces of chicken which were tender and smothered in a lip-smacking curry gravy. Accompanied with sambal ikan bilis, dried shrimp floss, hard boiled egg, acar and fresh cucumber, it all came together so beautifully that I almost felt the price is justifiable. Almost. If I can get pass my nitpicking self about getting only half a hard-boiled egg instead of a whole one.
Nasi Bojari ($18.90) is another specialty which my KL colleagues strongly recommended. Created by Madam Kwan's founder herself, it is a platter of pretty-looking tri-colored rice with a huge chicken drumstick and decent portion of assam prawns and shredded beef rendang served on a banana leaf. The aesthetic is nothing fancy but looked mouthwatering enough to make me wanna attack it, especially with the glistening spicy-sweet sauce of the assam prawns smiling at me. Though each item went delightfully well with the rice, my favorite has to be the tender and juicy fried chicken.
We ordered Otak-Otak ($15.90), as well as Chicken Satay ($11.90) and Beef Satay ($13.90) to share. I would prefer the otak to have more punch and spiciness, but thought the thick slab of fish paste with fish chunks was still worth a try. But Nat, who had tried the otak during his first visit here in May, took one bite and declared it "standard dropped".
Between the chicken and beef satay, the former was the clear favorite with the whole table. The succulent chicken meat fell off the skewer with a gentle bite and was superbly well marinated with flavor. A dip into the satay gravy added a nutty note to the meat, perfecting its deliciousness! The beef was unfortunately too tough.
Another main reason we made this trip to Madam Kwan's was because we wanted to try the Curry Fish Head ($49). This was the most expensive single dish we ordered that day but it was worth every cent. The red snapper fish head was drowned in a simmering hot, luscious curry gravy chock-full of lady's finger, tomatoes, onions, long beans, brinjals and dried beancurd. Love love love the fresh, soft and smooth flesh of the fish head! To have the plump round dried beancurd which soaked up all the richness of full bodied curry gravy burst in my mouth is heavenly shiok! The gravy was comfortably spicy and surpassed the earlier curry noodle broth in all aspects. Fans who have tried the curry fish head in KL's branches before might have detected a slight dissimilarity in taste, as the curry spicies used locally is different, due to a licensing issue. But who cares, as long as it's delicious, right? :p
We did not want to leave without trying the Cendol ($4.90), even though all our tummies were bursting by this time. It's a very simple dessert of green jelly and red beans served over finely-shaved ice, drenched with thick coconut milk and gula melaka. I've no doubt the gula melaka used was of top-notch quality, it pulled everything so lovingly together with its distinct fragrance and sweetness. What a satisfying end to our meal!
Address: 1 Harbour Front Walk, #01-155, Vivocity, Singapore 098585
Contact: +65 6271 9989
Opening Hours: 11am to 10:30pm daily