(TNP) - At first, I got excited about Village Nasi Lemak Bar because I thought it was Village Park Restaurant, a popular nasi lemak eatery in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.
But I was impressed by the nasi lemak at the former. It wasn't the best nasi lemak I've tasted in Singapore (try Mod-Sin chef Shen Tan's version, and you'll understand what I mean), but it ranks among the better ones.
I was more fascinated though by what happens here at night. It transforms from a nasi lemak place to a tapas bar by 6pm. (And all day on Saturday).
Village Nasi Lemak Bar offers local street tapas. While it comes across as gimmicky, a lot of the items offered are quite good, providing comfort and a sense of familiarity.
For me, the top draw was the Crispy Crumbly Chicken Drumstick ($3.80). The chicken is marinated in the juices of old ginger and pandan, and while it's being fried, minced ginger is sprinkled over it.
The result is a spicy, aromatic coating over a piece of juicy drumstick. The coating is crispy, adding to the texture.
The Torched Grill Sotong ($14) was another winner. It is wallet-friendly - it's hard to find a place that sells a whole squid for $14 - and while the squid was nicely grilled, it was the housemade kecap manis sauce that gave it distinction.
I love how the mildly sweet sauce complemented the grilled squid.
While the Tangy Chilli Crab Sauce with Golden Bun ($10) was tasty and you'll get chunks of crab meat in the sauce, it is nothing new and not particularly memorable.
Still, while sitting there, I found myself constantly reaching out to scoop another spoonful of sauce and putting it into my mouth.
I liked that the salted egg yolk sauce of the Golden Salted Egg Yolk Chix Mid Joints ($12) was not too sweet, but the chicken was dry.
That took away the pleasure of eating the dish.
I'm still divided over the Village Nasi Lemak Roll ($10). It's clever (imagine eating your nasi lemak as a ball), but the pieces were huge. You'll need two mouthfuls to finish it and it'll leave such a mess.
Guess it's a good thing that the restaurant is dimly lit.
VILLAGE NASI LEMAK BAR
57, Circular Road
Opens Monday to Thursday 10am to 10pm,
Friday 10am to midnight, Saturday 10am to 9pm