Saturday, December 29, 2007

Nasi Kandar, Penang

From The Star today:

Too good to miss

Craving for some really great nasi kandar? Here are some places in Penang you can check out.

NASI Kandar, among others, is a must-have dish when you visit Penang. It is actually rice with several different curries and side dishes poured over it.

Tantalising: The dishes available at Kayu Nasi Kandar.

Many who visit Penang would pack several packets of Nasi Kandar to bring back home to their family.

A long time ago, rice vendors would go around on foot selling Nasi Kandar. They would carry the rice and dishes in food carriers which they’d balance on their shoulders using a long bamboo pole or stick. This is basically how the name Nasi Kandar came about as nasi means rice and kandar means balancing.

The name has stuck on till this day and the dish itself has been commercialised and made popular by the Indian Muslims or “Mamaks”.

Some of the famous Nasi Kandar outlets in Penang are Line Clear, Nasi Kandar Pelita, Kayu Nasi Kandar and Kassim Restaurant.

Nasi Kandar Pelita is the largest Nasi Kandar restaurant chain in Malaysia with 21 outlets located in Malaysia and an overseas restaurant located in Chennai, India. Its headquarters is in Taman Chai leng, Prai.

Popular: Many people also make a beeline for Nasi Kandar Pelita.

Line Clear, on the other hand, is the oldest Nasi Kandar joint, said to have been around for the past 45 years.

Located along a small narrow lane on Penang Road in George Town, the stall attracts customers 24 hours of the day.

The crowd starts coming in at around 10am as it is a tradition among people in Penang and other northern states to have a full rice meal for breakfast. It is also advisable to come in before the lunch crowd as there are limited chairs and tables.

According to locals, the name originated from workers shouting “Line Clear!” to indicate that a bill had been settled and the table cleared.

They hardly ever shout that anymore but a table still gets cleared as soon as a customer leaves the place.

The stall offers a whole range of dishes including curries, honey chicken, fried fish roe and vegetables. Just point to what you want and the workers will pile it onto your choice of briyani or white rice.

They then banjir (flood) your rice with a few types of curries – this is the traditional way to eat Nasi Kandar. If you would rather not have your rice ‘flooded’, let them know.

A satisfying meal of succulent honey chicken, beef rendang and vegetables will tally up a bill of about RM6.

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