Try Bilal Nasi Kandar, PJ Section 17, for top-notch ‘nasi kandar.’


I used to make definite borders with my spoon to ensure that different foods on my plate did not come into contact with one another when I was a child.

Naturally, this caused issues when attempting to enjoy saucier foods, but my parents’ firm encouragement—spoken and given—helped me to eventually get over this foolishness.

More inspiration struck when I read about nasi kandar, or “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Flood,” in which not a single grain of rice was wasted and the idea of kuah campur banjir opened the door to an abundance of flavor-filled adventures.

Since its inception in Penang, nasi kandar has grown to be one of the most well-liked food exports from the northern state, inspiring the growth of massive, prosperous chains like Pelita and Kayu Nasi Kandar, which have several locations across the Klang valley.


In addition to chains, smaller, owner-operated spots also exist, like Bilal Nasi Kandar, which opened just about two months ago at the PKNS flats in PJ’s Section 17.

When I arrived at a quarter past ten in the morning, the place was relatively quiet, which I later learned is because they open at 10am, not half past nine as Google suggests.

Staff were still carrying out massive trays of food and various vast pots of curries to the front, all while I Want to Spend My Lifetime Loving You by Tina Arena and Marc Anthony played in the background.

Standing over the counter, my gaze was met by a number of delicious options: ayam bawang, piled high with soft, caramelised onions; slices of honeycomb tripe in a thin gravy filled with potatoes and star anise; and the apple of my eye, ayam kicap, comprehensively covered in a thick, jet-black coating à la Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace.

As is often the case with lesser versions, one could be forgiven for thinking that such a complex mixture of curries would be impossible to describe, but not here.

This colorful kaleidoscope of a dish is anything but a flat, monotonous mess—each spoonful allowing you to savor every variety of flavors—spicy, sweet, savory, and, most importantly, tangy (thanks to a delicious fish curry).

The chicken is tender and effortlessly absorbs the molasses-like flavor; it’s sweet with lots of complexity and just a hint of heat at the back of the throat.

With every bite, the mild, woodsy flavor of the gravy is released from the delightfully spongy tripe pieces.

Other dishes like the ayam bawang also stood out, which was on the sweeter side thanks to a mountain of caramelised onions but was also remarkably tender for something that’s dry-fried, unlike the ayam kicap.

Sotong also proved to be toothsome, moreish little suckers, as opposed to the tough, rubbery version one will often find at inferior places.

At the end of the meal, I looked at the spotless plate, amused at the thought that a younger me would have missed out on one of the best meals of my life.

Before I had merrily emptied the plate of its contents, it was a right mix, all campur-ed up; at the end of it, the flood of kuah washed over me like a wave of satisfaction.

Bilal Nasi Kandar

No 78, Block J, Flat PKNS, Jalan 17/1a, Seksyen 17, Petaling Jaya

Open daily, 10am-8pm

Tel: 012-907 6801

Facebook: @bilalnasikandarsection17

* This is an independent review where the writer paid for the meal.

* Follow us on Instagram @eatdrinkmm for more food gems

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