This is my second time collaborating with the Thank-Goodness-It’s (TGI) concept where they present a different culinary concept every couple of months. After the previous rendition which was Nasi Lemak, this time round, It’s Nasi Ulam 2.0. This is the brainchild of Gastrogig, and they have yet again tied up with Chef Shen Tan who is famous for her twice-steamed Nasi Lemak and sambals.
Makan for 4 set — $108
Now the first thing that always comes to mind is why pay so much more for something that you could get for cheaper at the hawker centre or some casual eatery. The thing is, if you already have a favourite Nasi Ulam eatery that you always patronise, and you just want something similar, then you’ll find it difficult to justify paying a premium.
However, what I love about the TGI concept is that they’ve taken a beloved dish and put a modern interpretation to it, which is what excites me to want to try the food. The ingredients used are also better. For example, Kurobuta pork is used, and for the Barramundi, it has been sourced from local farms like Ah Hua Kelong.
All the boxes are compostable, although you can only compost the non oily parts.
There is also a conscious move to reduce carbon footprint by working with suppliers that are sustainable. Many of the herbs and vegetables used are also sourced from Gastrogig’s own farm, which means using fresher ingredients as well as ingredients not commonly found. They even used compostable disposable containers, which I have dutifully placed into my compost pile which I coincidentally created a couple of days ago. Sustainability and local farming are topics that are close to my heart. If you have been following my blog or social media, you would know that I too have been growing veggies, albeit on a smaller scale on my balcony.
I tried the Makan for 4 set for $108, which comes with 2 proteins, 1 veg, Nasi Ulam, desserts as well as various condiments. We really enjoyed the 22-spice Kurobuta Pork Confit that has been dry-rubbed and marinated for 48 hours and then cooked for 16 hours. As expected, the slices of meat were very tender and had a beautiful flavour. I didn’t even need much of the pork chilli sauce that is served separately.
Closer look at the Kurobuta Pork and Barramundi
The Barramundi was cured for 2 days in a whole salted egg blend with evaporated milk, curry leaves and butter, and pan fried before delivery. Although I’m not a fan of Barramundi, I actually enjoyed this thanks to its crispy exterior and flaky interior. The salted egg brown butter sauce was a great addition. I secretly saved a bit of it and added it when I was cooking veggies the next night! Aside from the Barramundi, there are also other seafood dishes such as Curry Clams, Durian Tempoyak Mussels and Petai Lupcheong Prawns.
The GG Garden Curry is like no curry I’ve ever eaten. It’s a mish mash of freshly harvested greens from Gastrogig’s garden, such as green papaya, tapioca leaves, eggplant, lady’s finger. I must admit some of the veggies were a little bit too fibrous but aside from that, I enjoyed the freshness of the ingredients. Even though it was a pretty thick curry, I enjoyed the bursts of lightness and sweetness when biting into the veggies.
As for the Nasi Ulam, the star of this edition is made with 28 ingredients. A Malay and Peranakan dish, Nasi Ulam, or Rice Salad, is traditionally served with hand-chopped herbs and flakes of mackerel and coconut. This version of Nasi Ulam is rice tossed with herbs that have been made into a pesto. 6 of the over 25 herbs used are specially grown by Gastrogig in their garden as they cannot be found elsewhere for sale. The flavours were enjoyable and you could even almost eat this on its own. I polished off half the rice with just the fluffy eggs!
Our set came with condiments included, however if you are purchasing condiments ala carte, you have to get their house made sambals. They are really good! At first taste, they aren’t very spicy and it may leave you wondering why not, but then you realise you can actually taste the hints of sweetness in the sambal. I’ve been rationing it and having it every night for dinner!
Pretty amazed at what this team can come up with. They even have sourdough pasta done up in Hae Mee or Bak Chor Mee style. Sourdough is the in thing these days, but aside from sourdough breads and sourdough pizza, sourdough pasta is something I’ve yet to hear of! Can’t wait to see what the next iteration will bring!