Qiji Nasi Lemak (Review)
It’s really a 奇迹 how they managed to open their doors one day and became an instant hit with everyone. With simple staples like nasi lemak, mee rebus and mee siam, Qiji as their name in mandarin suggests has indeed become a household name and an FNB miracle.
I just had a nasi lemak, a local favorite amongst many. Steamy coconut milk infused white rice with an array of ingredients strategically positioned to maximize your dining experience. Unfortunately, their ingredients have been looking a tad tiny lately though.
Take the kuning fish for example, I couldn’t believe that it could be so small! I mean by Australian standards, a fish of this size would never pass through the fishery authorities and onto our dinner plates. That said, perhaps it was a midget kuning fish and it had stunted growth. Hey, it’s quite possible you know.
I am just wondering if perhaps this little fellow could have had a much greater potential to co-create even more kuning for their mercenary masters. Instead here it is, on my green mock-banana leaf plate. All shriveled and parched.
The rest of the ingredients were suffering from a severe lack of color. Honestly they looked tired. It was as if they weren’t dressed up properly before they left the food counter. The paper-thin pale yellow egg was like two pieces of highly compressed cheesecakes sitting neatly on top of my nasi (rice).
The otah-otah was also a pale orangey hue of a puddle of *** amidst a setting sunset. Ok, nuff said, after all, I am still going to eat this. I am famished.
I was fairly disappointed at the quantity of ikan bilis (tiny anchovy) and kacang goreng (fried peanuts) though. Typically the macik (aunty) at the food counter would heap a full scoop. But the dude behind the counter today must have used a teaspoon to scoop the ingredients.
And to top it off, there was this nugget looking item that I couldn’t quite figure out what it was. It tasted like fish and chicken all at the same time with a pillow full of batter coating. Except that it was equally flat and off colored as its other buddies on the plate. Very mysterious nuggety item. It vaguely resembled an ingot of gold.
The chilli, perhaps the only item that steers everyone back on the same course was sweet and spicy and just right. Very nicely done.
It was a perfect nasi lemak meal to say the least. The taste was just superb. The brains behind the business have got their hearts in the right place. The looks of the ingredients could do with a little bit more color. That said I should qualify, that I don’t just go for looks but I like good quality food – I don’t eat for color’s sake. But it is liken to buying fish at the market, color denotes freshness.
Qiji is indeed doing the basic things well. They have morphed into a somewhat conveyor belt like production house of local common foods but yet maintaining a consistent level of quality and taste in all their outlets. This just means they have a tight control on quality. I like that.
Incidentally the nasi lemak above could have been neatly arranged by an artist of Bugis origins, it reminds me of a tiny sailboat awashed against the tides of changing times, fishing amidst the setting of a crimson sunset and perhaps scouring the seas for hidden treasure.
You can have this same experience at Qiji. Just order set number two.