[ Food Review — Revisiting my ultimate fav nasi padang place! ] I’m not shy about my love for Pariaman, one of the nasi padang bulwarks that line Kandahar Street. (To jog your memory, it’s the place where the crown family of Johor used to drive down for takeouts pre-covid. You know it’s good if you’re dinin’ with royalty!)

If I adore Pariaman so, why haven’t I visited it more? (The last time I was there was in 2019, yikes.) Well, the place isn’t the most accessible with/without a car, and it tends to sell out just after noon.

Today, not only do I get to revisit Pariaman’s exhilarating flavours, I get to bring friends along as well! The downside? They aren’t big on spice. The silver lining? Compared to other places, Pariaman focuses more on taste curation than amping up the spice — in other words, chilli is but a facet of the kitchen’s spice mélange.

Wanna visit but feel intimidated by their sheer variety? To reduce your chances of awkward gawking and unintended gaffes, here’re two dishes you must try:

If you wish to taste the pinnacle of the kitchen’s prowess, this is it: Ayam Bakar. Wait, isn’t ayam bakar supposed to be red with a crust of sticky-sweet black sauce à la Taliwang’s?

Yes, and no. Ayam bakar translates as grilled chicken, and like with many other grilled dishes, there’s more than one way of doing it! Pariaman d o e s grill its chicken, but after that, they steep and cook the pieces in a golden turmeric sauce, letting the flavours suffuse and marinate the chicken until its interior is tender and juicy. It’s also suitable for those with low spice tolerance!

The 2nd dish you have to get is Ikan Goreng Belado. Don’t be tempted by the rich gulai alternative — if you’re a newcomer, go straight for this to full appreciate the heat control (fire and spice) and fish.

Keep the belado (chilli) on if you can handle the heat, if not simply scrape it off. It’s a nice complement, but what you’re really here to appreciate is the goreng (frying) technique. You won’t get any super bony pieces here — each chunk is made of supple flesh, kept succulent by the taut cover of rough and delectably briny skin.

Next visit: Nangka (jackfruit) curry! (Sold out today, sigh.)

Dishes ordered (clockwise from top): Sotong Kalio (Squid), Acar+Ikan Bilis Kacang, Begedil, Ikan Goreng Belado, Ayam Gulai (Chicken Curry), Ayam Bakar, Sambal Goreng + not pictured: Terung Belado (Eggplant)