For those playing at home, Nasi Lemak is coconut rice infused with pandan, with a deep but sweet chilli sambal, boiled egg, fried anchovies, roasted peanuts and slices of cucumber that you just throw away, because we all know cucumber is not worth anyone’s time.
Having lived in Kuala Lumpur and believing I should have been born into a Malaysian family, my standards for nasi lemak are fairly high. It should come wrapped in a brown paper triangle and cost three Malaysian Ringgit (around $1) (and yes Perth, this is how much food can cost). Sadly, for Perthites there ain’t no $1 hawkers serving up this plate of perfection, but grab your fork and spoon because here is some of the very best Nasi Lemak in Perth, it's worth it!
Spencer Village Food Court
Ooooh, it’s a tough call between Penang Cuisine, Izyan Malaysian Cuisine and Straights Cuisine at Spencer Village Food Court in Thornlie so screw it and just choose all of the above. This is Perth’s version of Singapore’s Maxwell Food Centre. So many stalls, so little stomach space! My tactic: 1) don’t eat lunch 2) wear stretchy pants 3) order from all of them 4) probably don’t calorie count that day.
Malaysian Dining Delights
Personally, I'm not that into the random salad on the side, but $9.50 for Nasi Lemak—now we’re talkin’. Malaysian Dining Delights is the ultimate restaurant for authentic Malaysian eats and, unsurprisingly, they are dishing out some of the best Nasi Lemak in Perth. Apparently, the keoy teow is also epic. Obvs. Make a reservation or risk being disappointed.
It’s undecided whether it's the portion size of the nasi lemak at Spice Express that makes this so amazing or the fact that the kitchen is pumping out handmade dosas. Either way, this is the real deal for Indian Malaysian food and it’s making the Malaysian and Singaporean’s of Perth miss the hawkers of home like it’s no one’s business.
Satay On Charcoal
South Perth and Victoria Park
Satay on Charcoal on Mends Street in South Perth is basically an institution, and it's younger brother in Vic Park is just as good. It's no wonder the locals have been heading here weekly for their $10.90 beef rendang nasi lemak fix.
Nasi Lemak Korner
Como and Mosman Park
It’s pretty bizarre to have to book a seat to eat nasi lemak, but at Nasi Lemak Korner in Como and Mosman Park, you’d be stupid not to. Packing in the seats and orders, this is fancy nasi lemak where hawker meets hipster—think more fine dining and a little less BYO napkin.
The first item on the agenda is to explain that Sarapan means breakfast in Malay. Meaning breakfast only—don't make the same mistake I did. This pop-up cafe is one of the few places serving breakfast nasi lemak in Perth, so get there before 11am on weekdays and before 2pm on weekends! At only $11.50 for the nasi lemak, you can definitely afford a side of roti canai, you know, for later.
Insan’s is a very good lesson in why you should never judge a book by its cover. Portion sizes here are off the Richter scale and we’re quite alright with that. You just may not be able to walk back to work after. But don’t worry, that’s a future you problem.
Was it the $2.50 teh terik that stole our hearts or the three selfie sticks we spotted in the restaurant? Probably both. Step into D'Angkasa Malaysian on Hay Street and it’s like being back on the hidden streets of KL. The good news is you can avoid Air Asia while you’re at it!
Rasa Nyonya Penang Restaurant
East Victoria Park
You just mentioned George Town and now I’m dreaming about being on the next flight to Penang, consuming my weight in char kuey teow and avoiding wearing bathers. But if you, like me, have zero annual leave, Rasa Nyonya will do the trick! Order all the hawker favs, split the bill and call it a day.
Bamboo Authentic Singapore Hawker
This is just about the only Asian food in Perth that’s actually cheaper than where it comes from (sorry Singapore, I can’t, don’t hate me). Just like everything else on the menu, Bamboo smashes it out of the ball park. The mountain of coconut pandan rice next to a seemingly normal portion of chicken is fine by me if I can just get more of that sambal please? And
maybe definitely more fried pork.
Bull Creek Hawker
Bull Creek Hawker is the closest thing you’ll get to Jalan Alor, KL in Perth. Minus the sensory overload and the whole tourist trap thing. Ok, so it’s nothing like Jalan Alor except for the signage, limited chairs and epic menu. Top tip: When you arrive, pretend like you know what you’re doing to avoid wasting precious eating time.
Sarawak Hawker Cuisine
If you can tear yourself away from the kolo mee or chicken rice to order the nasi lemak you’re in for a winning morning of Sarawakian food at Sarawak Hawker Cuisine. Actually on second thought, just do it all as it’ll still be cheaper than one meal anywhere else. Just make sure you get there when it opens, otherwise you’re in for a wait!
My Rasa is another spot dishing out nasi lemak for breakfast in Perth, so you know where to go next time the cravings hit. They also do some pretty epic roti served with anything from dahl or curry to ice cream or sweet condensed milk. Ummm yes.
Want more? Check out our ultimate Perth Asian eats bucket list.
Nasi Lemak Korner | Image credit: Elle Borgward