Nasi Kandar is something I would usually opt for in Penang because the flavour and thickness of the curries are superior in this state. But my recent visit to Nasi Kandar Saddam in Kuala Lumpur changed my mind – you can actually get legit good nasi kandar outside of Penang.
For the benefit of my non-Malaysian readers, Nasi Kandar is a dish that comes from Penang, brought into our country by Tamil-Muslim immigrants from India. Back in the days, nasi kandar was served on a pole with two large pots – one contained steamed rice and the other, curry with meat and vegetables.
It used to be considered a “poor man’s” meal or a meal for labourers. But today, nasi kandar isn’t cheap at all. You’re looking at forking out at least RM10 for a basic meal and a plate of nasi kandar can go up to RM50 or 60 depending on the items you take!
At Nasi Kandar Saddam, the curries take centre stage.
For Jien and I, we place a lot of emphasis on the curries and how they are mixed together to create this out-of-this-world experience in a mouthful. We’ve heard about Nasi Kandar Saddam from a good friend, who also recommended Nasi Kandar Deen in Penang to us years ago.
His words, “Eh this Nasi Kandar Saddam is really quite power. You don’t even need to drive to Penang to eat your fix anymore!” was reason enough for me to head out earlier on a Sunday, and taste for myself what Nasi Kandar Saddam has to offer.
There are three outlets of Nasi Kandar Saddam at the moment – Segambut, Odeon Walk and Sogo KL. I was told the Segambut outlet is the first of the three, started by father himself (Saddam). The queue is long, especially during peak hours. We thought we were early – but at 11.30am, there was already a long queue for Nasi Kandar Saddam at Odeon Walk.
The outlet next to Sogo KL is just a short drive ahead (or a 10-minute walk) so if you lucked out like I did with the Odeon Walk Nasi Kandar Saddam, you can go to the one at Sogo KL. I picked Ayam Saddam and daging masak kicap with half a salted egg and ladies finger for my nasi kandar – and of course, “kuah campur banjir” (RM12).
Saddam’s curries are thick and of different flavours so when mixed together, you get this savoury, sweet and aromatic deliciousness coating the steamed rice. It’s euphoria, in the form of a simple meal of rice and curries.
The Ayam Saddam isn’t like any chicken I’ve had at a nasi kandar restaurant. It’s lightly crisp on the outside and the flavour is a cross between ayam madu and ayam goreng. You get that juicy texture from a fried chicken and that honey, caramelised note from the ayam madu. This one, you must order at Nasi Kandar Saddam.
I’d say skip the daging kicap because although quite decent, it’s not worth taking up stomach space at Nasi Kandar Saddam. Instead, you’d be happier with their sotong, laden with egg and deliciously marinated in thick curry gravy.
Jien took the sotong and ayam kicap with fried bittergourd (RM22), the latter was also delicious. I’m not sure how they do it, but the flavours really permeate into the meats at Nasi Kandar Saddam. I guess that’s also why people like using their hands to eat – to have the aroma linger on long after. The curries are also so thick they could stain one’s fingernails!
Because we both enjoyed our nasi kandar at Saddam, I figured I might as well order another one for the road. This time, we opted for the same sotong but their other chicken option, ayam bawang (RM23 per plate).
One would expect the ayam bawang (onion chicken) to taste sweet, but Saddam’s version is more savoury with tender braised onion slivers. Quite tasty, but the ayam Saddam and ayam kicap still triumphs over.
Overall, I feel Nasi Kandar Saddam is now the best nasi kandar in Kuala Lumpur. The curries are spicy, savoury, sweet and really “lemak”; definitely ticks my checkbox requirements for nasi kandar. Of course, I would love to try the Segambut outlet myself so that requires being there as early as 10.30am.
Food: 8/10 (halal)
Verdict: Order the Ayam Saddam, ayam kicap and sotong. Don’t forget to ask for “kuah campur banjir”. You won’t regret this.
Nasi Kandar Saddam
SOGO KL Outlet
50100 Kuala Lumpur.
Odeon Walk Outlet
50300 Kuala Lumpur.
58, Jalan Segambut Pusat,
51200 Kuala Lumpur.