Michael followed up his bento box birthday lunch with dinner at the cheap and cheerful Nasi Lemak House. I discovered long ago (thanks to Buttons) that they are veg-friendly but it's taken our recent trip to Malaysia to get us properly enthusiastic about nasi lemak and the other culinary delights of the region.
Nasi Lemak House seems popular with and well-suited to the local student population, being located close to the University of Melbourne and serving large meals for as little as $9. Even more attractive for us is that there's a dedicated vegetarian section to their menu. The friendly woman who took our order at the counter double-checked whether we ate egg, a good sign for vegans interested in stopping by. Once payment is made, it's up to you to grab your own cutlery and water and to keep one ear cocked for your meal as it comes out of the kitchen.
Michael decided to go with their specialty, the Vegetarian Nasi Lemak Traditional ($9.20). He was surprised how little it looked like our previous dealings with this dish - the tofu puffs, fried egg, pappadums and onion were definitely a different interpretation. The sambal, too, looked syrupy and sweet though Michael confirmed that it had quite a kick - just what he typically needs to clean a plate with gusto.
I was in the mood for the Vegetarian Char Kuay Teow ($9.80), though no mood nor appetite I've ever experienced could have me finishing a plate piled this high with food! The noodles were good, the tofu ever better and the chilli danced around my heat threshold. (I'm pretty sure that you can make a heat-level request on ordering, so I might meekly ask for mild in future.)
While the flavours weren't nuanced, these meals have plenty else going for them. Vegetarian options are numerous, prices are low and servings are huge. Given the proximity of Nasi Lemak House to our inner-north workplaces, there's a good chance we'll be choosing it for future lazy-night takeaways.
Check out other blog posts about Nasi Lemak House from Memories of a Teenage Foodie in Melbourne, Half-eaten, This Other Eden (twice!), Walk Walk Melbourne, eDgustation, My Food Trail, Procrastination is necessary, That Jess Ho, Wild Gold Leaves, The Melbourne Food Experience, More to Love Vegan and IronEaters.
Address: 115 Grattan St, Carlton
Price: veg mains $9.20-10.90