Nasi Lalapan is an Indonesian dish that’s very popular in Miri. I went to Muara Restaurant just now based on Jeanie’s recommendation to check out this unique incarnation of Indonesian cuisine. Muara Restaurant is self-dubbed “The Founder of Lalapan” – very lofty claims indeed.
This is the original restaurant at Miri Waterfront Commercial Centre. There’s another newer establishment in Miri but the first Muara Restaurant is located at a much more appealing location – it’s right beside the river!
There is a very nice breeze and you can see the bustling activity of the river right from the vantage of your dining table.
Muara Restaurant is supposed to serve the best nasi lalapan in Miri and coming from Jeanie (who doesn’t like spicy food) it was intriguing enough for me to check it out.
We went there well past lunch hour (it was around 3 pm) and there were still heaps of diners eating nasi lalapan – a great testament to its popularity.
Nasi Lalapan is basically a dish of vegetables, tofu and meat arranged around a unique sambal based sauce. You can choose the meat that goes with your nasi lalapan – there’s everything from chicken to prawn. The rice is served separately on a plate and there’s also a bowl of soup to go with your meal.
Jeanie had the Nasi Lalapan Empal (beef) which costs RM 8. Here’s a top view of what nasi lalapan is all about – starting from the 12′ o clock position, there’s tempeh (a soy product which tastes like nuts), a piece of deep fried tofu, the meat (in this case, beef), some greens (spinach if I’m not mistaken), cucumber slices, uncooked long beans (called ulam in Malay), a lime, and some cabbage.
You start eating nasi lalapan by squeezing the lime into the sambal based sauce and mixing it up. The sauce is the cornerstone of lalapan and it tastes great – spicy, with visible flakes of chilli and a tangy finish.
The vegetables can be picked apart using your fingers and dipped into the sauce. I saw people eating it this way so I emulated them.
It tastes much better when you use your hands to eat. Primal. :D
I really liked the beef in Jeanie’s Nasi Lalapan Empal – it’s smoked beef and tastes delicious, with a lingering sweet aftertaste.
I chose Nasi Lalapan Keli (RM 10) for my late lunch. Ikan keli is catfish and I was surprised when the plate of nasi lalapan came out – the fish is humongous! I forgot to use something as a reference point so you can’t appreciate the sheer size of it, but trust me, it’s gigantic!
It’s deep fried to perfection. The skin is crunchy and the flesh is tasty – delectable! The presentation is awesome too! They must have a really huge wok to be able to fry that mutant catfish wholesale. I particularly liked the precision in which they sliced the fish so that you can easily use a fork to spear a segment of the fish.
We also ordered a chicken drumstick – you can order the meat in the nasi lalapan variants separately. I saw a lot of people eating the chicken nasi lalapan and wanted to try it. Unfortunately, it’s nothing to write home about – I preferred my catfish and Jeanie’s smoked beef tastes much better.
Muara Restaurant has really good nasi lalapan. You can determine the authenticity of the food based on how many Indonesians visit the joint and the spicy tang of the sambal goes very well with the vegetables and meat. The dishes range from RM 8 – RM 15 depending on what you choose as your meat and the entire meal just set us back RM 21.80.
I only realized that they forgot to charge us for the chicken when I looked at the receipt. :x