Indonesian Delights by Rita Lim @ Tampines St 42

UPDATE (Dec 2013): SORRY BUT THIS STALL IS NO LONGER OPERATING.

I am not familiar with Tampines but luckily, Martin Smart is and he brought us there twice to savour the home-style cooking of Madam Rita Lim. Thank you, Smart!

The first time was right after we had lunch at Mr. and Mrs. Teng’s house (see post here). Madam Rita’s stall happens to be in their neighbourhood. We went there on full stomach but we were quite impressed with her nasi lemak, so much so that we made an appointment to go there for nasi padang lunch this day.

Madam Rita Lim, an Indonesian Chinese, originally from Tanjong Pinang (an Indonesian island) opened her Nasi Padang cuisine stall, Indonesian Delights, recently in Tampines Street 42. Her stall does not have many staple items and there’s good reason for it.

Photos from my first visit on 23rd October 2013:

Madam Lim's stall was about to close for the day when we arrived. The nasi padang was sold out but she managed to whip up something for us.

Madam Lim’s stall was about to close for the day when we arrived. The nasi padang was sold out but she managed to whip up something for us.

The standard fare in a nasi lemak meal.

The standard fare in a nasi lemak meal.

Click to view in full and for some commentary.

In Malay language, “nasi” is rice and “lemak” means creamy rich. Nasi Lemak or Coconut Rice in this case is termed in context derived from the process of cooking this dish. The rice is soaked in coconut cream before steaming with some pandan leaves.

To many, what determine a good nasi lemak are the rice and the sambal. Traditionally, nasi lemak is served with very few side dishes which includes cucumber slices, small fried anchovies (ikan bilis), fried peanuts, hard-boiled egg, and spicy sweet sambal. They are usually wrapped in banana leaves. These days, nasi lemak may be served with more elaborate dishes like fried chicken parts, spicy fish patties (otah otah), sambal cuttlefish and the list goes on.

What made us want to go back to Madam Rita stall again to try her other dishes was her nasi lemak rice itself and her spicy sweet sambal passed with flying colours. The rice was lemak enough without being overly oily. Her faultless sweet sambal, clearly a winner on my palate, had enough drawing power to make me spend almost S$40 (cab fare to and fro) to taste her cooking again the following week.

My meal on 31 October 2013:

I was late and the rest have started eating. Jenny had to go back to work after her lunch break but wait!  Were they fighting over food? Lol...

I was late and the rest have started eating.
Jenny had to go back to work after her lunch break but wait!
Were they fighting over food? Lol…

Philip already facebooking the lunch? I was late not only in arriving for lunch but also in postings, hahaha...

Philip already facebooking the lunch?
I was late not only in arriving for lunch but also in postings, hahaha…

Finally sat down for my meal.

Finally sat down for my meal.
Let’s see what I had.

Assam Fish Head with Brinjals and Ladies Fingers.<br />The flesh was tender and very fresh.<br />The spices and seasonings used in this assam gravy was well balanced.<br />Although I find it mild, I should not compare this with the stronger flavours from Assam Pedas, a totally different dish from the Malay cuisine.

Assam Fish Head with Brinjals and Ladies Fingers.
The flesh was tender and very fresh.
The spices and seasonings used in this assam gravy was well balanced.
Although I find it mild, I should not compare this with the stronger flavours from Assam Pedas, a totally different dish from the Malay cuisine.

At first glance, I thought this to be Chicken with Satay Sauce.<br />This is a wetter and lighter looking Chicken Rendang that Madam Lim said her customers prefer.<br />Sometimes, she would cook a drier, darker version of Chicken Rendang, which is more flavoursome.

At first glance, I thought this to be Chicken with Satay Sauce.
This is a wetter and lighter looking Chicken Rendang that Madam Lim said her customers prefer.
Sometimes, she would cook a drier, darker version of Chicken Rendang, which is more flavoursome.

Pork Belly with Pig's Ears.<br />I have never eaten this before.<br />I can't quite put my finger on the spices and seasonings used.<br />The rich gravy tasted unique and quite pleasant.<br />Later, we found out the unique taste was from the belacan (prawn paste).<br />The pork belly was tender but not melt in your mouth type tender. To me, the texture was more like "stir-fried" or "quick braised" tenderness which I enjoyed.<br />The pig's ears had crunchy cartilage. <br />In fact, this was one of the dishes Philip like best.

Pork Belly with Pig’s Ears.
I have never eaten this before.
I can’t quite put my finger on the spices and seasonings used.
The rich gravy tasted unique and quite pleasant.
Later, we found out the unique taste was from the belacan (prawn paste).
The pork belly was tender but not melt in your mouth type tender.
To me, the texture was more like “stir-fried” or “quick braised” tenderness which I enjoyed.
The pig’s ears had crunchy cartilage.
In fact, this was one of the dishes Philip like best.

I had a second helping of rice but the dishes were running low.<br />I asked for more and Smart went to check what's available, twice!<br />Ian said I made him walk so many times but I think Smart was happy we enjoyed the food.

I had a second helping of rice but the dishes were running low.
I asked for more and Smart went to check what’s available, twice!
Ian said I made him walk so many times but I think Smart was happy we enjoyed the food.

Smart coming through with more curry sotong and a new dish of sambal goreng.

Smart coming through with more curry sotong and a new dish of sambal goreng.

Curry Sotong with Potatoes.<br />I liked the bright saffron colour of the dish.<br />The texture of the curry was smooth and creamy.<br />The sotong (squid) skin was peeled off and its tentacles stuffed back into the body cavity.<br />I found the flesh to be a little on the soft side while Philip found it to be hard.<br />That proves tastes are subjective to individuals.<br />Ian, The Silver Chef, was still impressed with Yusof Arni's squid's texture so I must make a trip down again.

Curry Sotong with Potatoes.
I liked the bright saffron colour of the dish.
The texture of the curry was smooth and creamy.
The sotong (squid) skin was peeled off and its tentacles stuffed back into the body cavity.
I found the flesh to be a little on the soft side while Philip found it to be hard.
That proves tastes are subjective to individuals.
Ian, The Silver Chef, was still impressed with Yusof Arni’s squid’s texture so I must make a trip down again.

Sambal Goreng. This dish was similar to those sold in Malay stalls but here, the version is brighter and had gravy. The ingredients used were the usual long beans, taukwa (firm tofu), tempeh (fermented soybean cake), chillies and the addition of sliced chicken gizzards which provided succulent crunch.

Sambal Goreng.
This dish was similar to those sold in Malay stalls but here, the version is brighter and had gravy.
The ingredients used were the usual long beans, taukwa (firm tofu), tempeh (fermented soybean cake), chillies and the addition of sliced chicken gizzards which provided succulent crunch.

Selar or Bigeye Scad stuffed with Chilli Sambal.<br />The fish was really fresh and there was no bitter taste at the stomach area.<br />The skin was crisp and flesh was moist.<br />The sambal chilli inside the fish was not spicy enough but add some of the special sambal belacan chilli served on the side and it's heavenly.

Selar or Bigeye Scad stuffed with Chilli Sambal.
The fish was really fresh and there was no bitter taste at the stomach area.
The skin was crisp and flesh was moist.
The sambal chilli inside the fish was not spicy enough but add some of the special sambal belacan chilli served on the side and it’s heavenly.

I love this zesty Sambal Belacan which was very good especially after squeezing the lime.<br />It was an accompaniment to the Selar Fish and complemented the dish very well.

I love this zesty Sambal Belacan which was very good especially after squeezing the lime.
It was an accompaniment to the Selar Fish and complemented the dish very well.

The amiable Madam Rita being grilled by us, lol...<br />We wanted to know what she put inside some of those unique tasting dishes, the origin of these recipes and why she had no staple menu.<br />Madam Rita revealed that she'd tone down the heat in her food due to customer's complaints.<br />Her Chicken Rendang as seen in today's post had more gravy, also catered to customer's demand. However, she said that the drier version would be more tasty as everything is infused into the meat.

The amiable Madam Rita being grilled by us, lol…
We wanted to know what she put inside some of those unique tasting dishes, the origin of these recipes and why she had no staple menu.
Madam Rita revealed that she’d tone down the heat in her food due to customer’s complaints.
Her Chicken Rendang as seen in today’s post had more gravy, also catered to customer’s demand. However, she said that the drier version would be more tasty as everything is infused into the meat.

Madam Lim explained that she decides her menu for the day based on the availability of what’s most fresh during marketing. She would rather pay a bit more for the freshest ingredients she could buy on daily basis than to have a stable menu where the quality of the ingredients might be compromised. Her style of of cooking is homecooked fare and she does not stinge on the spices used. She sells food that she cooks at home. Take for example the Nasi Lemak hard-boiled eggs, it’s double effort to have them boiled and then fried, most places I eat at do not serve them that way. Effort takes time and time is money. Madam Lim is not business savvy and doesn’t equate that, of course! She was a housewife and now making a living doing what she does best – cook!

I found her food to be delicate, aromatically spiced and rich in flavour. I was a bit surprised when I ate the nasi padang dishes and found them not chilli-hot. But then again, if they did, my tongue would be numbed and I wouldn’t be able to savour the untainted tastes of the quality ingredients she painstakingly chose to provide than to mask them with lesser ingredients. One suggestion I could humbly offer is that she makes a killer sambal belachan as dipping sauce for those who like it hot!

Indonesian Delights by Madam Rita Lim.

Indonesian Delights by Madam Rita Lim.

Indonesian Delights
Address: (inside Boss Junior Coffeeshop, opposite Gong Shang Primary School).
Blk 445, #01-14,
Tampines Street 42.
Singapore 520445.

Operating Hours: (NO LONGER SELLING – OWNER MOVED BACK TO TANJONG PINANG)
9am – 3pm or earlier, till sold-out.
Closed on Wednesdays.
(Nasi Lemak is sold in the morning on certain Wednesdays of the month if fresh ingredients are available).

Happy eating 🙂

To see Ian of The Silver Chef’s review click here.

To see Jenny of Jencooks’s review click here.

Smartgoh commented:
“Rita has to open this stall to support her only son 15yrs old after her husband passed away early this year. Initially she not making any profit but is now recovering some small income. This is a gem and my wife and I are going there weekly for our comfort food. If you do visit this stall check out if she has any soup. This is a secret as she don’t usually offer it.”

P.S. Sorry I’ve been slow in responding lately. I was away in JB (Johor, Malaysia) and there was also some tasks I needed to clear. I will be posting my JB food trip and visit your blogs this weekend 😀

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Comments
8 Responses to “Indonesian Delights by Rita Lim @ Tampines St 42”
  1. sgfoodonfoot says:

    I must go and check out this place

  2. smartgoh says:

    Rita has to open this stall to support her only son 15yrs old after her husband passed away early this year. Initially she not making any profit but is now recovering some small income.
    This is a gem and my wife and I are going there weekly for our comfort food.

    If you do visit this stall check out if she has any soup. This is a secret as she don’t usually offer it.

  3. laurasmess says:

    What a thoughtful cafe owner. It’s amazing how she’ll tailor her food to customer preferences… not many Australian chefs would be that considerate. The food looks amazing by the way. If I’m ever in Singapore I will definitely check out this little place. She deserves to be successful!! x

  4. we used to called it nasi campur or nasi ampera here in Indonesia Samn,
    it looks comforting and kick’in spicy….

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