Wild Coco’s nasi lemak has been making its rounds on social media. Specifically, it was one dish that stole the highlight— their ayam berempah, which sports activities a superbly crusted, golden deep-fried exterior that actually made my abdomen growl in protest.
Regardless of having solely opened in February 2022, this home-grown nasi lemak eatery has already been in contrast with extra well-known institutions, similar to Michelin-recognised The Coconut Membership and even Kuala Lumpur’s Village Park Nasi Lemak.
I headed all the way down to Wild Coco, which is positioned beneath a HDB block at McNair Street, and genuinely hoped that its meals could be as scrumptious because it seemed.
Even earlier than I was the hall that led to Wild Coco, I might already scent the sturdy scent of deep-fried rooster, and I knew I used to be in the appropriate place.
For a model that has established itself shortly with its considerably atas nasi lemak, I used to be shocked to search out that Wild Coco was housed inside a contemporary kopitiam-like setting that oozed informal vibes.
Loads of tables had been strewn throughout the eatery, with some excessive tables positioned alongside the walkway, and I seen a handful of neon signages that added specks of vibrant color to the house.
Wild Coco is run by 42-year-old Wayne Tan and his enterprise associate and head chef, 33-year-old Kah King, the latter of which is from Malaysia.
“Frankly, all I wished to do was create plate of nasi lemak,” shared Wayne. “Each Kah King and I actually love nasi lemak, and I at all times discovered that the majority locations don’t handle to get all the weather proper, for instance the rice may not be aromatic or the egg is tremendous onerous.”
Inquisitive about its comparability to KL’s well-known Village Park Nasi Lemak, I requested Wayne whether or not he had sought inspiration from there. He replied: “All I knew was that I wished to create a kind of nasi lemak that didn’t use flour or deep-fried batter, so I checked out berempah as a substitute. And the KL model simply occurs to be like that too!”
What I attempted at Wild Coco
Whether or not or not you’re longing for a plate of no-fuss nasi lemak or a extra zhng-ed plate with ayam berempah, Wild Coco’s bought you lined.
It has seven nasi lemak dishes on its menu. You’ll be able to select between the Fundamental (S$5.80) which comes with coconut rice, egg, ikan bilis, peanuts, sambal and cucumber, or pay a bit extra on your alternative of protein or seafood. These different choices embrace the favored Ayam Berempah (Breast/Leg) (S$9.80), Sambal Fried Fish (S$10.80) and Hen Curry (Drumstick) (S$11.80).
In case you’re eating in a big group, these choices can be found à la carte as properly, and you’ll pair your meat or fish with zi char-style greens like Stir-Fry Woman Finger (S$7.80) and Nyonya Assam Eggplant (S$7.80).
It could be value noting that Wild Coco doesn’t use pork or lard in its dishes. It additionally doesn’t use MSG in any respect!
I went and bought the one dish that introduced me right here: Ayam Berempah (Leg).
Because of the rising prices of Singapore’s recent rooster provide, Wild Coco has resorted to utilizing frozen rooster for his dishes. Regardless of that, Wayne shared that every thing else, together with its house-made berempah and sambal, remains to be lovingly made in-house, and that every piece of rooster is marinated for twenty-four hours.
The minute the Ayam Berempah was served, I couldn’t inform what to deal with first. My nostril had caught a whiff of the aromatic, pandan-like scent coming from the rice, and on the identical time, my eyes had been drawn to the beautiful spice-rubbed rooster leg with its crispy brown pores and skin.
The very first thing I did was peel off a bit of fried pores and skin and pop it into my mouth, and immediately felt like I used to be 12-years-old once more, sinfully indulging in fried rooster pores and skin whereas ignoring all of the meat.
This was rooster pores and skin that had been superbly spiced and deep-fried. Savoury and aromatic, every morsel was gritty and crispy, and I might style fragrant notes from lemongrass and ginger.
The rooster meat clung to the bones fairly a good bit, which I suppose was the results of utilizing frozen rooster. Aside from that, the meat was tender and delicate, however I used to be left wishing that it had been extra salted or seasoned, as I discovered myself choosing on the items of meat that had the fried pores and skin hooked up and ignoring the meatier components of the rooster.
Wild Coco’s rice was an actual surprise. Texture sensible, this was completely cooked rice that was fluffy and moist. It didn’t clump collectively like moist rice, nor was it overly greasy or dry within the slightest.
I beloved how fragrant it was, and I might style notes of aromatic coconut and pandan. Wild Coco apparently makes use of freshly squeezed coconut milk for its rice— spectacular!
Wild Coco makes its sambal in-house, and this potent chilli includes greater than 10 substances that undergo a laborious 5 hour-long course of.
Its style was advanced, full-bodied and wealthy, and it took my style buds on an actual journey. First got here a nice sweetness, and it was shortly overtaken by a savoury roastedness. The very last thing that hit me was a gentle spice that didn’t appear overly spicy at first, however the warmth lingered on my tongue painfully, even after I had moved on to the following element of the dish.
I wished to order Wild Coco’s Ayam Rendang (S$11.80), however sadly, it wasn’t obtainable. Wayne shared that its rendang takes 4 entire days to arrange, so that they solely promote it as and when it’s prepared.
As a substitute, I went for the Sambal Fried Fish (S$10.80). Many of the dish’s parts had been the identical because the Ayam Berempah, simply that the rooster had been swapped for a complete ikan kembung. Each bit of fish is handpicked day by day on the market.
Wild Coco’s Sambal Fried Fish received me over straight away with its meaty and delicate flesh, which tore aside simply with simply the usage of a fork. This was an extremely scrumptious fish that I took my time to devour, and that is me talking as somebody who avoids fish just like the plague— not as a result of I’m allergic, however as a result of I’m afraid of the numerous bones current that may turn into a choking hazard.
This can be a dish that I’d gladly come again for. And sure, I’ll order this over the Ayam Berempah!
Whereas the gobsmacking quantity of sambal nervous me at first, I used to be delighted to search out out that it wasn’t as spicy as I assumed. Tangy and bitter, Wild Coco’s home made sambal was balanced out with a pleasant sweetness that made it tremendous pleasing when paired with the fish meat and fluffy rice.
Simply once I was accomplished consuming, Wayne determined to carry out their Hen Curry (Drumstick) (S$11.80) for me to attempt. This dish makes use of home made curry paste and contains child potatoes and girl fingers.
Although the curry was a bit oilier than I’d like, every spoonful was extremely aromatic. It was thick and luscious, with a barely gritty texture from the added berempah, and the savouriness was paired with a powerful style of coconut milk.
I’ve bought to say, the inclusion of some type of gravy was an actual recreation changer to the rooster leg, because it added a well-needed saucy kick that rounded off the whole dish. Although the Ayam Berempah was a transparent winner due to its spice-rubbed pores and skin, I discovered myself having fun with this rather more than the Ayam Berempah.
Although it was Wild Coco’s Ayam Berempah that drew me right here, it was with a lot shock that I discovered myself having fun with the Sambal Fried Fish and Hen Curry rather more.
Certainly, these plates of nasi lemak are a lot pricier than these discovered at your normal hawker or kopitiam, however I discovered myself received over by its massive parts and well-executed rooster and fish objects, which simply justified its S$10 or extra price ticket. Plus, I can see myself having fun with this as an occasional indulgence.
You’ll be able to guess I’ll be again for that scrumptious plate of Sambal Fried Fish sooner or later.
Anticipated injury: S$9.80 – S$12 per pax
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Our Ranking: 4.5 / 5
122 McNair Street, #01-45, Singapore 320122
Our Ranking 4.5/5
122 McNair Street, #01-45, Singapore 320122
Phone: +65 9119 3822
Working Hours: 10.30am – 8pm (Mon to Sat), 8.30am – 3pm (Solar)