I really love Nasi Kandar, even my family members, father and children liked the food. Not only we are from Penang, but also we have been taking the food since young. It is not only food, like Roti Canai, it has become a Malaysian food for Penang and Malaysia. We are so proud of the food. We talk so much about the food , when we are away from the state. But lately due to some ugly happening, we have stopped to take the food we loved; it no longer a friendly and Malaysianized food we used to take. Moreover with the foreign workers working in the restaurant the taste and quality deteriorated. The food no longer cheap and become more expensive when restaurant chains are opened.
I am sorry personally for not taking Nasi Kandar, and Roti Canai as frequently as I used to. It is also a sad chapter of the food history in the country, when racial politic was common, and people are not sensitive and value the harmony of our multi-racial society.
I cherish the moment at the old mamak stalls taking Nasi kandar under the tree, or at the lorong(Malay word for lane) near Masjid Kapitan Keling(Kapitan Keling Mosque), and especially days when the stalls are opened at the kopitiam. Those are good days.....
This morning I went to Bayan Lepas old town, and enjoyed breakfast at a Malay restaurant. Suddenly I remember the Nasi Kandar at Ipoh, which I used to enjoy while working in Ipoh. The restaurant at Tanjong Rambutan bus terminal. But if you ask the young Ipoh mani people, they may not know the place. The nasi kandar outlet is in the Chinese coffee shop, located at Jalan Yang Kalsom. An old outlet since 1960s. There is a new Nasi Kandar restaurant opened at the other corner of the same row, alah it cannot compare with the old faithful outlet in an old Chinese coffee shop. This is the Nasi Kandar outlet I patroned while in Ipoh; it is different from the other Nasi Kandar restaurants in Ipoh, and also different from Nasi Kandar restaurants in Penang.
The secret is a 'cocount like paste that comes' with every plate of food one orders. It may be made of grounded coconut and chili paste. It is this chili paste that differentiate the outlet from other other nasi kandar outlets/restaurants. The food is good and the price is reasonable, unlike the other restaurants that charged you excessive price.
It was located in a kopitiam operated by Chinese, the name is 'Restoran Yong Suan'; but people remember the Nasi kandar outlet and not the coffee shop. By the way, you need to line up for your turn.
Here is the article of the outlet...if you missed Penang nasi kandar, go to this shop at Ipoh, you will enjoy it.
Craving for Ipoh's 'nasi ganja'
The gastronomic delight 'nasi kandar' introduced in the country by migrant Indian Muslims, known as mamak, has been synonymous with Penang.
Nasi kandar has also been making its appearance in culinary and food promotions held in posh hotels including that which have the five-star tag.
In this city, there is one mamak shop that has earned its own reputation as a popular nasi kandar joint since decades ago.
Ironically, the nasi kandar served at this eatery has a rather unpleasant tag as it is popularly dubbed 'nasi ganja' which means addictive or intoxicating rice.
But the term is actually coined to show the dish's extreme delight has pulled the crowd of gluttons in, including the locals and those from outside Ipoh.
Despite the cooks at this nasi kandar outlet have come and gone, the nasi kandar business there which began in the early 1960s has flourished due to it being able to retain the 'exotic taste' right through the years.
Actually, the nasi kandar joint shares the same premises that belongs to a Chinese coffee shop or kopitiam, 'Restoran Yong Suan'. But the kopitiam's name simply faded and is now longer on the lips of diners.
That particular restaurant is located at Jalan Yang Kalsom and for the long-time residents of Ipoh, the area where the shop is located is popularly known as the Tanjung Rambutan bus terminal due to its location near the now closed down bus terminal.
Among the dishes popular with the nasi kandar afficionados is the restaurant's selection of chicken dishes being the 'ayam wangge, ayam merah, ayam hitam and daging hitam'.
Nobody knowns how 'nasi ganja' came about. But the general agreement is that the nasi kandar served there is tantalising to the taste buds and made diners to drool and crave for more of this particular gastronomic delight.
Nasi ganja's original proprietor was Kamal Naseer Abdul Rahman who had long died. Now the business is carried on by his descendants.
A descendant of Kamal, 44-year-old Nihmatullah Syed Mustafa who now runs the restaurant said the main draw in the menu is the 'ayam merah' that uses coconut sambal which could not found in other eateries.
"This nasi kandar uses our own family recipe. We use the spices that are grinded and this is available only in Penang. We usually sells about 1,000 plates of nasi kandar a day", he said.
On the nasi ganja tag, Nihmatullah said he has no idea how the name cropped out and sometimes there are patrons who cheekily asked him whether the 'illegal and banned herb' is used in the shop's nasi kandar's recipe.
According to Nihmatullah, since the nasi kandar outlet began business 49 years ago, the 'nasi ganja' received overwhelming response from locals as well as tourists from Singapore, Thailand and Australia.
Nimatullah advised first timers to the shop to be patient as in order to enjoy the nasi kandar lunch, they have to be in a queue that sometimes are quite long.
He said many of the patrons told him they were drawn by the shop's 'ayam merah' dish that could not be equalled by other nasi kandar eateries.
As for ayam wangee, the chicken dish resulted from the shouts of the shops waiters who called out 'Wangge, Wangge, Wangge' in Tamil which means Come! Come! Come! to passers-by.
Meanwhile kopitiam owner Yang Yong Suan, 58, said the good response for the nasi kandar has also brought good returns to his business of beverages and toasted bread. Yang inherited the kopitiam from his late father.
According to Yang, people from all walks of life and various ethnic origin patronised the restaurant to sample the exquisite and unique taste of the nasi kandar sold there.
"Many of those who dine at the restaurant have been coming for the past 20 years... before their parents brought them along and now it is their turn to bring along their families.
"There are those from the north and south who stopped over in Ipoh for the food," he said.