Nasi rawon @ Satay solo
This was the first time I had seen nasi rawon on a hawker menu, although maybe I’m not looking hard enough. I knew what nasi rawon was, because I sometimes buy buah keluak from the wet market, the seeds of the Pangium tree, and the uncles/aunties always ask me if I’m cooking nasi rawon — trying to get me to buy the accompanying spices. However, my peranakan wife, has me cooking ayam buah kelauk instead. So while I was familiar that it was a beef dish with buak kelauk sauce, I had not actually tasted it. But I was familiar with the effort that is required to go into preparing a dish with a buak kelauk sauce. Soaking and washing for several days, tediously breaking nuts open to get to the pulp inside, some of which might be rotten and discarded after all that work.
The nasi rawon set I ordered consists of the rawon beef stew, some sambal sotong, several pieces of beef lung (paru), a begedil, and a big dollop of sambal belachan, all for $7.
The flavour of buak kelauk is hard to describe, definitely unique. First off the mouth-feel is rich, full of oils, giving it a certain decadence. The taste has bitter overtones, similar to dark chocolate, but with that forest floor, almost mushroom earthiness to it. Personally, I love it, but I do know it splits opinion. The beef used in the rawon melts in the mouth, although there is more sinew and fat than I prefer. The flavour of the buah kelauk is there in the sauce, I only wished they gave me more if it.
The sambal sotong looks fierce, bright red and chilli seeds all over it, but actually it was not as spicy as I feared. The sotong was cooked well, only a couple of pieces were chewy, and knowing how expensive sotong is these days the portion was quite generous.
Paru reminds me of South African biltong, and it would be great to dip into the rawon sauce if there was enough of it. Instead I try dipping it into the sambal belachan. Now this is where the heat is. Wow. It was too hot for me. Suddenly I couldn’t taste anything, sweat was forming on my brow. I sucked down on my sugar cane drink and shoved the begedil in my mouth in an attempt to put the heat out.
I would definitely come back here for this dish, asking them to leave off the sambal belachan next time. The price of $7 might seem high, but the effort that goes into the rawon and the filling nature of the set meal makes it worth it.
Hawker centre: Bedok Food Corner
Address: #01-09, 1 Bedok Rd
Hours: 7am - 10pm (closed mondays)