The title of this review is actually a take on Mama Lissa's promotional material where they claim to serve 'probably' the best nasi lemak in Penang. In fact reading more of their promotional material they also claim to serve the best nasi lemak in Malaysia.
What appears to be bold claims is actually good advertising (just ask Carlsberg) as it is difficult to prove one way or the other because of the subjective nature of personal taste, one mans meat is another mans poison.
Nevertheless, I have been following their story with interest from just before they opened when their posters started to appear in the area.
I visited Mama Lissa's on the day they opened and I was greeted by two guys in gorilla costumes brandishing free bananas if you accept one of their flyers!
Well I listened to them claiming to serve the best nasi lemak in Malaysia but the question I needed answering was could Mama Lissa's deliver what they so boldly claim?
I sat down at one of their outside tables (there are only three as space looks limited) in a semi Al-fresco environment at the side of their Melaka traditional hawker stall which is surrounded by the usual Penang restaurant set up of pot plants.
I had ordered their traditional Mama Lissa's nasi lemak and was eagerly anticipating my first mouthful as it smelt quite scrumptious.
The rice had all the right attributes I expect from a top restaurant, it had a distinct creamy coconut and pandan leaf smell, it was fluffy and tender, the texture was uniform throughout my serving and on top of that it tasted great even on its own.
The sambal was available with or without seafood and I opted for the one laced with seafood. I tried a quick taste of Mama Lissa's sambal before I mixed it into the rice and my taste buds exploded with a euphony of gastronomic delight, it was that good.
I quickly mixed the sambal through the rice and purposefully loaded a spoonful without any seafood as I wanted to taste the sambal with just the rice. As you would expect the smooth coconut and pandan essence from the rice slightly toned down the chilli effect from the sambal but the resultant gustatory sensation was one that could only have been created in culinary heaven.
I was gobsmacked, I had been charged RM4.80 for what appeared a humble plate of nasi lemak that chefs in the top hotels in Malaysia could not replicate and even then they would have the audacity to charge RM25++ for that less than pleasant privilege.
Mama Lissa's has a limited menu with the only dish I did not try being their chicken curry. However their staff informed me that this is for starting as they want to limit the menu in order to concentrate on quality while they iron out any teething problems that all new business face.
I have been reliably informed that they will be expanding the menu with Melaka Laksa, Bubur Kacang Durian and Bee Hoon Soup very soon.
Before today I had only ever awarded one restaurant with 5 stars (Restoran Chef Chareon Thai in Shah Alam Selangor) and it was thoroughly deserved. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine giving a 5 star award to a Penang hawker stall but here I am sitting in the lap of culinary heaven that is known as Mama Lissa's having only spent a mere RM4.80.
I have no doubt in my mind that Mama Lissa's does indeed serve the best nasi lemak in Penang. Further still, I have now tasted the reason why they claim to serve the best nasi lemak in Malaysia, you simply have to taste it to believe.
If they can replicate the quality and value for money displayed with their nasi lemak then no doubt this hawker stall will start seeing queues around the block waiting for their traditional Malacca cuisine.
Do they serve the best nasi lemak in Malaysia? It's subjective but Mama Lissa's have just succeeded in convincing me they do, you just got to taste it to believe this Malaysian national dish can taste so good.
Mama Lissa's Location
The sambal had a spicy taste to it but with a delayed delivery of the heat from the chilli meaning you taste all the ingredients of the sauce before the hot chilli effect kicks in, this is the hallmark of how top chefs create sauces with hot chiilis. I knew there and then that this was going to be a very special nasi lemak.
The chicken was coated with a crunchy looking texture that upon first sight appeared burnt so I did not set my expectations too high.
All of a sudden I realised I was in the presence of culinary greatness and it cost less than RM5. Mama Lissa's Nasi Lemak Tradisi is appearing to be the real deal, may be it is a contender for best nasi lemak in Penang.
I had yet to taste the fried chicken as I had dismissed it once I had tasted just how good the sambal and rice was.
The taste sensations vary when mixing in the various seafood with the sambal with the crunchy anchovies adding a salty taste while the squid and prawns further extend the gastronomic tapestry of pleasure that Mama Lissa's nasi lemak delivers. The roasted peanuts add another texture and indeed a further taste sensation to savour when devouring this delightful dish.
Mama Lissa's nasi lemak is completely different to any other nasi lemak available in Penang. The owner is from Malacca and she readily admits that she follows the tried and tested recipes handed down to her by her grandmother, hence the word 'Tradisi' in the stall name.
Then there is the fact the national press were there for the opening of a hawker stall because two guys in monkey suits were giving away free bananas, this is totally unheard of in Malaysia.
The name Mama Lissa's easily rolls off the tongue and the word 'mama' has a certain association with culinary activities and someone that you trust.
The actual hawker stall is also a traditional Melaka stall and if you look at the attention to detail that has been put into setting up this culinary enterprise I get the impression that this has been created with one word in mind, expansion.
Also Mama Lissa's advertising literature reads as if a sophisticated advertising agency has been hired to promote and establish a brand name.
This has all the characteristics of brand building from the outset with (in my opinion) the ultimate objective being brand expansion through franchising.
After utilising the guerilla marketing campaign they have now created posters with photos of the gorillas holding bananas and a plate of nasi lemak with the punchline "Don't monkey around with your dining decisions, eat at Mama Lissa's and feast on the best Nasi Lemak in Penang".
Two more posters caught my eye, one read "You don't like bananas, no problem Mama Lissa's Nasi Lemak Tradisi have got the best nasi lemak in Penang", with the next one reading like this "After a hard day at the jungle office you can't beat sitting down to a delicious plate of Mama Lissa's traditional nasi lemak".
IMPORTANT! This hawker stall is now closed, Mama Lissa's has opened new restaurant at Bukit Jambul Shopping Complex. This review still stands and I will update for new restaurant soon.
Mama Lissa's Nasi Lemak
Mama Lissa's Nasi Lemak
I have no doubt in my mind that Mama Lissa's does indeed serve the best nasi lemak in Penang. Further still, I have now tasted the reason why they claim to serve the best nasi lemak in Malaysia
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine giving a 5 star award to a Penang hawker stall but here I am sitting in the lap of culinary heaven that is known as Mama Lissa's having only spent a mere RM4.80. Do they serve the best nasi lemak in Malaysia? It's subjective but Mama Lissa's have just succeeded in convincing me they do, you just got to taste it to believe this Malaysian national dish can taste so good
Written by: Michael Joseph
Mama Lissa's Nasi Lemak
Date published: 17/10/2011
Mama Lissa's Nasi Lemak Tradisi Star Rating
Mama Lissa's Nasi Lemak,
38G and 40G Persiaran Bayan Indah, Bayan Bay, Queensbay, Bayan Lepas,
- Phone: +60-17-455-6995
GPS Latitude - 5.336045 - GPS Longitude - 100.306806
Hours: Mon-Sat 10.00am - 08.00pm
This was quite a stunt and it created a buzz in the area as people were leaving their workplaces to head for home.
I live within walking distance of Mama Lissa's hawker stall which is situated in front of Queens Bistro in the shoplot area behind Eastin Hotel, Penang.
Fortunately I do like surprises and I could not believe my gastronomic luck when the taste sensation of fried ginger, lemongrass and curry leafs (no doubt amongst many other ingredients) on a piece of freshly fried succulent chicken totally blew me away. It was fantastic.
Mama Lissa's Nasi Lemak Useful Information
Cuisine/Theme: Malacca cuisine
Directions: Shoplots rear of Eastin Hotel, stall in front of Queens Bistro
Halal: No, but no pork on the menu
Accept Reservations: Yes
Vegetarian Friendly: Yes, but limited choice
Wheelchair Friendly: Yes
Accept Credit Cards: Yes
Take Away Food Available: Yes
External catering available: Yes, contact management to arrange
Closest Hotel: Eastin Hotel 1 minute walk
Closest Shopping Mall: Queensbay Mall 1 minute walk