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SINGAPORE: We don’t know about you, but all this uproar over rendang has created a rendang-sized hole in us that can only be filled with a heaping plate of rich, spicy, coconut-y goodness.
Since Malaysia-born MasterChef UK contestant Zaleha Kadir Olpin was told by the show’s judges, Australian John Torode and Englishman Gregg Wallace, that her chicken rendang did not pass muster because the skin wasn’t crispy enough, Malaysians and Singaporeans have been consumed by righteous anger.
Of course, it has since emerged that there may have been a bit of a misunderstanding. Not everyone bought the explanation, but while the truth may not be so clear, one thing is crystalline: Chicken, beef, mutton – we don’t care. We just want a rendang fix, and we want it now.
But we don’t want to settle for just any rendang, because we judge our food with very exacting standards. And we certainly don’t want to run the risk of getting rendang with crispy skin. The horror!
So, in a quest to find out where to get the best rendang in Singapore, we polled some of our favourite local personalities about where they go to satisfy their rendang cravings, in celebration of their heritage.
As predicted, nearly all of them said: “At my mum's”. Which is always the correct answer, children. But since we don’t think Taufik Batisah’s mother would take kindly to us barging into her kitchen and demanding rendang, here are a few eateries that will just have to do – until we score an invitation, that is.
SITI KHALIJAH ZAINAL, theatre and television actress
Ambeng Café by Ummi Abdullah, 430 Upper Changi Road, #01-65
“You can tell that the rendang has been cooked with so much love and care. The meat is not tough and the kuah is just right – not too mild and not too spicy. Don’t stop at just the rendang, though. Go all out and get the Nasi Ambeng platter for the full experience. Sedapness guaranteed!”
TAUFIK BATISAH, musician
Sabar Menanti II, 747 North Bridge Rd
“Besides my mum’s rendang during Hari Raya, the best for me would have to be at Sabar Menanti II. I’ve been eating there for a while now, whenever I need my nasi padang fix. The rendang is always fresh and good, especially during lunch. I also like Hajah Maimunah at Jalan Pisang.”
MASTURA AHMAD, film and television actress
Rumah Makan Minang, 18 Kandahar Street
“The number one thing about rendang for me is the meat – it has to be tender and juicy. Then, the rempah cannot be too fine, dry, sweet or crispy.
“Rumah Makan Minang is my number one choice after my mum’s rendang. I also like Sabar Menanti Restaurant and Warong Nasi Pariaman, both in the Arab Street and Jalan Sultan area; as well as Sinar Pagi Nasi Padang at Geylang Serai.
“There are also two hawker stalls that I love to go to: Pari Menangis at Teban Gardens Market and Air Pasang Nasi Campur & Halal Seafood at Bukit Batok. Both serve nasi Ambeng with beef rendang. Sedap!”
FIR RAHMAN, film and television actor
Hajah Maimunah Restaurant, 11 Jalan Pisang
“Tender meat, perfect balance of spices, and the richness of coconut milk used. Plus, look how yummily oily it is!”
RIZMAN PUTRA, theatre actor and musician
Wak Marmi Muslim Food, Jalan Batu Food Centre & Market #01-08
“I would recommend Wak Marmi Muslim Food at Jalan Batu Hawker Centre (opposite Goodman Arts Centre). It's been there since I was in college – or maybe even before. Their mutton rendang is super soft, tender and melt-in-your-mouth. Cheap and good.”