SINGAPORE, Aug 13 — Over at an industrial estate in Tampines, there has been a growing buzz at a coffeeshop where a long line forms every morning — sometimes up to two hours — by people waiting to try the latest street food fad: Lobster nasi lemak.
The dish is served with a whole lobster filled with cheese, seasoned with ground herbs and comes with the usual nasi lemak condiments — fried egg, sambal peanuts, anchovies and sambal chilli — and is priced at S$22 (RM70).
Co-owner of halal eatery Lawa Bintang, Sarena Talib, 45, first introduced lobster to the traditional nasi lemak dish sometime in March. She said the younger generation is more open and receptive to new food offerings, so she decided to be “daring enough” to include it in her nasi lemak.
Sarena started out offering her nasi lemak with sotong goreng (fried squid). Heartened by the good response to her “fusion dish”, she decided to add lobster, cray fish and softshell crab to her list of offerings.
Originally, Sarena just thought of offering grilled lobsters. But after exchanging ideas with her nephew, who is a chef, “he tried to make it more interesting by adding cheese”.
The former property agent entered the food business about four years ago when the property market slowed down. The transition, she said, was easier for her as her family had been selling nasi padang in Bedok North “for 40 years”.
“When we were young, my mother taught me to cook. She made sure all the children learned how to cook,” she added.
Sarena, who runs the stall with her husband, orders 20kg worth of lobster every day, but she said, it usually runs out within two hours.
The queues started to get longer earlier this week after some food bloggers wrote about her lobster nasi lemak. So much so, Sarena has implemented a limit on orders per customer.
“We had one customer order five lobsters (at once) and the people behind didn’t have a chance to get it. So we set a rule that one person can only order two lobster nasi lemak,” Sarena said.
When TODAY visited the stall on Thursday at lunch time, there were about 35 people in line.
Teacher Zahira Ali, 30, said: “I don’t mind paying such an amount for a nasi lemak lobster. Grilled lobster alone can be quite pricey as well. It can cost around S$50 to S$60 dollars alone.”
Another customer Kenny Chee, 51, who went with his family to try it for the first time and waited for 1 hour and 40 minutes, but did not get to try the lobster nasi lemak, so he ordered the nasi lemak sotong goreng instead.
“My colleague tried and he raved about it so we wanted to try it,” said Chee said, who said although he didn’t get to try the lobster, it was still worth the wait.
“It (the sotong goring) had a nice balance of sweetness and spiciness and the meat was well-marinated. They used basmati rice which is moist and has a nice bite to it,” Chee said.
Account Assistant Fathiyah Al Hilal, 27, who came back for the second time for the lobster nasi lemak also had to settle for another dish. “I had the nasi lemak sotong in March. It was very tasty ...
“(The lobster) is sold out so I will get the sotong again. I don’t mind queueing because I know it’s good,” said Fathiyah. — TODAY
*Lawa Bintang is located at Blk 9008, Tampines street 93, and opens from 8am to 2pm from Tuesdays to Thursdays, 10am to 2pm on Fridays, and from 9am to 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Closed on Mondays.