Aroma Kampung at Joo Chiat Complex

Aroma Kampung
#03-1111 Blk 2 Joo Chiat Complex
(Above NTUC Fairprice Supermarket)
Singapore 420002
Online Reservations available on their facebook page
Whatsapp Reservation: +65 9436 4767
Payment modes: Cash. NETS or Grabpay

Opening Hours
Daily: 10am to 7pm

Halal status: Muslim-owned
Halalicious rating: 9/10
Average spend per pax: S$11
Recommended dishes: Sotong hitam (Squid in squid ink), siput sedut, rendang

So a few weeks before Ramadan began, I was in the Geylang Serai area running some errands with my mum and we were looking to have a late lunch somewhere. I was all, uh how about Kucina at OneKM (okay it’s now KINEX, but I hate that name. Not that OneKM was much better to begin with) since it’s a nice comfortable place – but then my mum was like I know a place all mysterious like. And then she led me into Joo Chiat Complex, up to the third floor, and across a short walkway to this restaurant called Aroma Kampung.

Wow almost like a speakeasy (LOL NO LAH)
The entrance

So Aroma Kampung is a Nasi Melayu place serving over forty types of Malay dishes, buffet-style. You take however many dishes you want, and however much of a dish you want, and at the end of it they will calculate the damage for you at the counter, and then you can eat in peace.

Check out the extensive spread omg. For real I was like a kid in a candy store. Except I was being a makcik in Lauk Land.

They had sooo many things, from shellfish such as mussels, siput sedut (chut chut), cockles and clams) to fish like stingray asam pedas, fried ikan selar and other fish i know not the names of, to meat dishes like beef rendang, chicken lemak, fried chicken, to random lovable dishes like quail eggs in sambal, and finally to seafood dishes like my favourite sotong masak hitam (or squid in squid ink sauce). I think I recall seeing crabs in lemak gravy, and prawns of some sort but tbh I only had eyes for the siput sedut and the sotong hitam.

Flatlay lol, or our “Sur la table”. Basically all this including drinks cost $23.

Yum so I took some sotong hitam (two “bodies” of it) and a piece of fried tempeh, some sambal eggplant and a piece of stingray asam pedas, and oh let’s not forget the bowl of lemak siput sedut.

UGHHH my fave.

So yeah if you guys had seen my IG stories when I posted about it, you’d have seen in the video how thick and legit the squid ink gravy was, for the sotong hitam ugh it was almost like how my late aunt used to cook it. For real it was like #000000 black lol. I LOVED IT. The siput sedut was also really good and tasty, except that I felt the gravy could have been just slightly thicker and a bit more savoury. The eggplant was so plump and fresh, although the sauce was too oily. More of the chilli paste, less of the oil next time please!

I actually pretty much enjoyed everything except for the stingray which was quite lumpy. Hate it when the stingray flesh is like one fused glob. Is that what happens when it’s undercooked or is it just the quality of the fish? IDK. My mum had the rendang and some leafy dish (I think it was lemak pucuk ubi. Very yummy too.) and she also had the squid and the eggplant. All in all Aroma Kampung definitely passes the home-cooked taste test.

Anyway I’m def dying to go back for another pick’n’mix session. I love having a bit of everything (which is why I excel in buffets) rather than like one thing, so this place is ideal for me. I think the price is pretty reasonable too, like it worked out to be $11.50 per person inclusive of drinks. FYI there is a whole ulam section ūüė©for those who are really really kampung haha. Also the place is air-conditioned, comfortable and there are sinks for you to wash your hands if, like me, you prefer to eat with your hands instead of fork and spoon.

Bonus, they also do weddings! I think it could be a really cool, comfortable place for a small reception and you KNOW the food is going to be bombbbbb (please ISD I am only using it slangily).

There’s a neat pelamin area if anyone wants to host an intimate wedding here!

Aroma Kampung
#03-1111 Blk 2 Joo Chiat Complex
(Above NTUC Fairprice Supermarket)
Singapore 420002
Online Reservations available on their facebook page
Whatsapp Reservation: +65 9436 4767
Payment modes: Cash. NETS or Grabpay

Opening Hours
Daily: 10am to 7pm

Halal status: Muslim-owned
Halalicious rating: 9/10
Average spend per pax: S$11
Recommended dishes: Sotong hitam (Squid in squid ink), siput sedut, rendang

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Hajah Maimunah at Jalan Pisang

Hajah Maimunah Restaurant
11 & 15 Jalan Pisang
Singapore 199078
Tel : +65 6297 4294

Opening Hours
Mon-Sat: 7am to 8pm
Closed on Sundays
Remarks: No GST and no service charge

Halal status: Halal certified
Halalicious rating: 8.5/10
Average spend per pax: S$15
Recommended dishes: Lemak siput sedut, beef rendang

So as you know,¬†Arab St area is now teeming with hip caf√©s such as The Lab, I Am…, Krave and the like, which is cause for rejoicing. However, I find myself still going back to stalwart establishments like Victory and Bumbu, which offer more Asian¬†fare.

Another place I wish I frequented more is Hajah Maimunah restaurant, which serves up¬†delectable Nasi Padang and an array of varied dishes. Although the flagship restaurant ¬†is on Joo Chiat Road, I much prefer the Jalan Pisang outlet because there’s just more things to do in that area – drop by the National Library, go for dessert elsewhere, etc.

On a recent Saturday, my friend and I headed to Hajah Maimunah for lunch and here’s what we had:

Hajah Maimunah Cafe - Flatlay sort of

That’s right; all this for just us 2 :/

Hajah Maimunah Cafe - Smorgasbord

YUMMMMMM

Here’s a breakdown of each of the dishes that we got:

  1. Lemak Siput Sedut (Medium, S$5)

Hajah Maimunah Cafe - Siput Sedut

Lemak Siput Sedut (S$5) – 10/10

Mmm, I love this, but I might be biased. I grew up with my aunt and she cooked this for us a lot when I was younger, but since she passed away I hardly ever get to eat this. Back to the taste though – the lemak is spicy and not too rich, which means you won’t get too jelak of it. 10/10

2. Beef Rendang (S$6 for two persons’ portions)

Hajah Maimunah Cafe - Beef Rendang

Beef Rendang (S$6 for two) – 9/10

The beef rendang is decent Рthe meat is moist and tender, while the rendang gravy is fragrant and flavourful. A little heavy on the oil (as is visible in the picture), but otherwise a good solid staple. 9/10

3. Ulam & Sambal Belacan (S$2)

Hajah Maimunah Cafe - Ulam Sambal Belacan

Ulam & Sambal Belacan (S$2) – unrated

I don’t even know why we even took this, as we were both not used to eating ulam, a traditional Malay/kampung salad with raw vegetables served with sambal belacan. I guess I liked the idea of it, but after trying a couple of cucumber sticks with the bright red sambal ,I thought “thank you, but never again please”. On the plus side, the vegetables were fresh. I suspect my mum would like this. Unrated.

4. Chicken liver and gizzard/ Hati & mempedal ayam (S$4 for Small)

Hajah Maimunah Cafe - Hati Mempedal

Hati & mempedal (S$4) – 8/10

So this is a classic kampung dish of fried chicken liver and gizzards coated in spices. I know it can be polarizing – some detest the grainy texture of liver while enjoying¬†the chewiness of the gizzards, and others¬†avoid innards altogether. I have fond memories of eating this as a kid and so I didn’t mind it. I like the¬†rempah¬†(or spices) that these gizzards are usually cooked in. 8/10

5. Tempe (S$0.80)

Hajah Maimunah Cafe - Tempeh Goreng

Tempeh (80cts) – 6.5/10

I LOVE TEMPEH, or fermented soybeans. When I was taking arabic classes at Al Markaz, I would always rush down to Kampong Glam Café to get a tempeh as a snack during our 15 min breaks in between class. And the tempeh there was delicious and cost 50cts. So I was a little outraged that Hajah Maimunah charged us 80cts for this sad-looking, lemau (no longer crispy) and skinny strip of tempeh. The taste was normal, but the texture was a letdown. 6.5/10

6. Paru Belado (S$4 for small)

Hajah Maimunah Cafe - Paru Belado

Paru Belado (S$4) – 6.5/10

Paru means lungs, and in this case we’re talkin’ beef lungs. (Gee, so much innards in today’s meal). I love most belado dishes, since the chili paste is delicious! Hajah Maimunah’s paru was a little disappointing though – the paru texture was a little hard. I like my paru in one of two ways – deep fried and crispy, or a little thicker and chewy. The one I had here was neither. 6.5/10

7. Lemak Pucuk Ubi (S$3 for small)

Hajah Maimunah Cafe - Pucuk Ubi

Lemak Pucuk Ubi (S$3) – 9/10

Finally we come to the lemak pucuk ubi, or cassava leaves in coconut stew. I really enjoyed¬†this. It’s got an earthy, kampung taste that is at once familiar and reassuring. The leaves are cooked well, retaining a good bite while still being juicy. If taken in large quantities the leaves can taste the slightest bit bitter, so try to pare it down with the coconut gravy and some rice. 9/10

All in all, I would definitely come back here again with my friends, especially for the lemak siput sedut, and also to try the tahu telor and other dishes! I reckon my friend and I definitely over-ordered, so my advice is to stick to about 2 dishes per person, and skip the ulam if you’re not a fan.

You can eat with your hands since they have a separate handwash station right by the washrooms. The staff are ever ready to clear empty plates once you’re done, and although you can def get like a simple $5 nasi padang from regular coffeeshops, it’s the variety of dishes and the air conditioned comfort that draw me and my friends to this establishment.

Hajah Maimunah Restaurant
11 & 15 Jalan Pisang
Singapore 199078
Tel : +65 6297 4294

Opening Hours
Mon-Sat: 7am to 8pm
Closed on Sundays
Remarks: No GST and no service charge

Halal status: Halal certified
Halalicious rating: 8.5/10
Average spend per pax: S$15
Recommended dishes: Lemak siput sedut, beef rendang