After reading favourable reviews of the nasi ambang at Ambeng Cafe by Ummi Abdullah, we quickly set a date to drop by at the newly opened restaurant at East Village mall in Singapore (near Simpang Bedok).
I am a big fan of nasi ambang as I like it's riot of colours, aromas, flavours and textures. It reminds me a child's kaleidoscope - full of delights and surprises.
Nasi ambang is fascinating and to me it reflects harmony in diversity.
Don't be intimidated by the multiple side dishes as ordering at nasi ambang shops is usually made very easy. The dishes are often already pre-arranged.
At Ambeng Cafe by Ummi Abdullah, it comes in 4 pre-determined sets. As there were 3 of us together and we wanted to taste as many sides as possible, we opted for the "Ambeng Classic Trio Set D" at SGD48 nett.
Ambeng Cafe is quite small inside and very popular. Decor is basic and seating is rather close together. We have to be careful not to knock the neighbour's table or chair.
Ordering protocol is simple and efficient.
Just make your order and pay at the counter (no credit cards accepted). Return to your seat and your order will be served at your table.
Our glorious nasi ambang like a colourful bouquet on a large banana leaf arrived within 10 minutes despite the crowd.
We took our time to explore and savour the individual dishes.
The begedel (fried potato cutlet) that crowned the mound of plain white rice was grainy tender and sweet with a slight crisp outside without being overly greasy.
Ayam Kalio or chicken in spicy gravy was served in a separate steel bowl. The chicken had little flavour as the gravy did not penetrate the meat but the spicy soupy gravy was tasty and went well when splashed onto the white rice.
The beef rendang was well infused with aromatic and flavourful spices.
The lean meat was, however, fibrous, stiff and quite chewy like a flavourful mildly spicy beef jerky.
The paru or fried beef lungs spiced with a bit of cumin were dry, coarse, rubbery, and quite hard.
I like this sambal sotong with it's strong spice flavours and the savoury sweet cuttlefish taste. I also enjoyed the gummy soft crunchy texture of the cuttlefish.
Ikan Sambal Bali or Mackerel fish with Bali style spicy sauce. The fish was fried till a bit stiff though still slightly moist. The fish flavour was weak.
Terung garam asam or eggplant with spicy sauce. The well cooked juicy eggplant still had a slight crunch to the bite. Personally, I prefer eggplant cooked till the pulp is a soft sweet juicy mash.
Sambal goreng or bean curd cubes fried with vegetables and sambal chili sauce. Tasty comfort staple dish.
Sambal Kacang Ikan Bilis or peanut and anchovies fried in spicy sauce. Another tasty staple that goes well with plain white rice. Crunchy peanuts and fried anchovies in a spicy sweet savoury chili sauce.
Telur Belado is hard boiled egg fried and then cooked with spicy chili sauce.
Ikan Kering or thin slices of hard, dry salted fish eaten with plain white rice.
Serunding and Sambal Balacan is fried grated coconut served with spicy savoury chili sauce made with chili and pungent fermented shrimp paste.
As you can see, we had a sumptuous and scrumptious meal ;-D However, I missed the mee goreng (fried noodles) which I often find in nasi ambang served in Johor.
I like it that at Ambeng Cafe by Ummi Abdullah, every side dish has it's own blend of sambal chili sauce. All the different sambal chili were delicious and have their own unique flavour.
The service staff were friendly and efficient.
As we couldn't finish the food, I requested for the leftovers to be bagged. I was pleasantly surprised that each dish was bagged separately in a different plastic bag (at no charge). The staff can also box the leftovers for you at additional SGD1, which I feel is very reasonable.
Ambeng Cafe by Ummi Abdullah is located at the newly opened East Village mall at Upper Changi Road in Singapore (near Simpang Bedok).
I also like the nasi ambang at Mamanda in Singapore and the nasi ambang in Johor Bahru.
Restaurant name: Ambeng Cafe By Ummi Abdullah
Address: 430 Upper Changi Rd, East Village #01-65 Spore 487048
Hours: Tuesday to Thursday: 11 am to 10 pm | Friday: 3pm to 10 pm | Saturday to Sunday: 11 am to 10 pm (Monday Closed)
Tel: +65 63840495
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