Coconut Club moved into new and bigger premises up the road – 28 Ann Siang Road in early August 2019. I think it is still not big enough. Coconut Club is a famous nasi lemak restaurant that caught the attention of Singapore and international foodies when it was reported as the restaurant where PM Lee Hsien Loong hosted visiting Philipines President Duterte for lunch. It is listed as a Bib Gourmand restaurant in the Singapore Michelin Guide 2018.
Coconut Club’s new restaurant at 28 Ann Siang Road is a blend of modern bistro and a traditional coffee shop. The bright modern food service area looks like something we would expect to see in a hip cafe. The small tables and stools have a coffee shop feel to them. With the tables set quite closely together, this felt more like an eat and go kind of place rather than one to have a slow meal of nasi lemak and long conversations over a glass of their famous chendol.
We were fortunate to be there just before opening time at 11 am. There was already a short queue. That was quickly cleared when the store opened and we were in the first wave of customers to get in. The place looked nice and spacious at first (above picture) but was packed within 20 minutes after opening (picture below). A 30-person queue had formed by the time we left. We discovered that they take reservations. So it would be prudent to do that on future visits. There is a small area at the back for those who prefer to dine alfresco. Depending on the direction of the sun, it can be a nice area as the neighbouring unit provides a large swathe of shade.
The Coconut Club Menu
The Coconut Club Menu is a simple one. The only main course is the Nasi Lemak Ayam Goreng Berempah ($12.80) – nasi lemak with flavoured fried chicken. There are only two decisions to make – whether you prefer chicken leg or chicken breast and whether you wish to order any side dishes. We decided to have one of each and no side dishes as some complimentary ones would be served that day.
The coffee at Coconut Club was served in cups with roosters, a reminder perhaps of the bowls with roosters used in the coffee shops. The coffee ($2.50 each) was fine, not exceptional.
Nasi Lemak at Coconut Club
The two plates of nasi lemak were identical except for the different body parts of chicken served. The meat content was much higher than the typical nasi lemak elsewhere that serves a small fish or a small piece of chicken or chicken wing. It looked like a quarter of a small chicken was served with each order. The chicken was lovely, slightly browned but still very juicy and moist inside. The berempah flavour is mild, barely noticeable. Our preference was for the chicken thigh – not just because it was more tender but also because the breast and wing section is very hard to navigate on the crowded plate.
The other constituents of the nasi lemak dish were no different from other places – rice cooked with coconut milk, peanuts, ikan bilis, egg, slices of cucumber and sambal. They apparently use a special type of coconut milk that imparts a soft coconut aroma and does not make the rice feel too heavy. It has to be said that the quality of the rice was better than average – very dry yet fluffy. The nuts did not seem very different. We like the ikan bilis as they were crisp and light. Sometimes these deep-fried anchovies can be too hard. The cucumbers were crunchy and fresh. The sambal was slightly sweet and with medium heat. It could be hotter.
The portion size of the nasi lemak at Coconut Club is larger than the usual dish because of the generous amount of the chicken served. We were glad that we did not order any sides and only had the complimentary ones to deal with.
Two side dishes were served to us. Stickes of satay made with chicken skin and a otah dish. The satay was fine, but we were already more than full by then we felt that they were too oily and heavy. We probably would have liked them more if we had them at the start of the meal, and with some beer.
We are not sure what was the other dish. We think we heard gizzard. But it looked like tofu with otah flavour. There could be small pieces of gizzard inside as well. Whatever it was had a nice otah flavour.
Overall, it is good to see a local dish being so successfully presented and being made the main event of a restaurant in a prime dining district of Singapore. $12.80 might sound like a high price for nasi lemak, but it seems like Singapore residents can appreciate quality when they see it. Perhaps we can see more specialty restaurants for other local dishes in the future – perhaps the Cockles Club for laksa and Radish Club for chai tow kueh.
28 Ann Siang Road
Coconut Club Opening Times
Monday – Sunday from 11am – 3pm
Monday – Saturday from 6pm – 930pm
The Ordinary Patrons | Real Dining Experience of Ordinary People
an independent Singapore food blog