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When I think of "nasi padang", the first word that comes to mind is "Rendezvous". Then, the next image that forms in my mind is the really shiok yellow green chicken korma that the original Rendezvous Restaurant used to dish out.
Nasi padang might mean many things to different people, but for me, it is all about the chicken korma. This was the dish my parents used to order for me when I was a kid, as I couldn’t eat anything that was too spicy. My first taste of the dish was a little tentative as I thought that since it was curry, it had to be spicy. My mom was adamant that this was not curry but korma. That first taste changed my life forever. Well, I still remember it today and use it as a yardstick to gauge all other nasi padang, so I'd say it was a life changing event. The creamy, citrus-coconut flavour of that non-spicy curry was incredible but unfortunately for us, not so easy to find it elsewhere nowadays.
I remember there used to be another nasi padang restaurant along the same stretch where Rendezvous was, which also served a pretty mean chicken korma. Sadly when they were demolished to make way for the present Rendezvous Hotel, we lost a heritage eating haunt. The last time I ate at the current Rendezvous Hotel, I felt that the chicken korma had lost some of its original ooomph. It almost always happens when the old makes way for the new.
My search for the elusive chicken korma brought me to this very famous nasi padang eatery which had been in the same location since 1948. This was a 3G nasi padang (to borrow our SAF's acronym for third generation) but Mr Jumrin insisted that their traditional recipes remained faithful to the original padang recipes.
The yellow-green curry chicken was known as "ayam pangang" at this stall, which means "grilled chicken" They didn’t call it korma here, but it certainly had the taste and appearance of chicken korma. The chicken was first cooked in the gravy then grilled and left dry. Gravy was poured over the chicken just before serving. I found the caramelised, char-grilled flavours of the spices on the chicken skin really tasty but the gravy was too watery and light for me. I would have liked it a little thicker and more fragrant. Still it was great with rice. Not quite the chicken korma I was hoping to find, but perhaps it was not exactly the same dish? (4.25/5).
The beef rendang was the other signature dish at this stall. I was told that it followed the same style of beef rendang they serve in padang. The meat was cooked till almost dry and it had a great consistency. It was quite fiery and should appeal to those who like a good sweat while they eat (4/5). This is one of those heritage nasi padang stalls that everyone talks about, so you have to check it out if you have never been there. The chicken korma (ayam pangang) was not exactly the one I was looking for, but overall it was a very good meal.