There comes a point where you just stop trying.
When you’ve been blue ticked after 10 consecutive messages.
When you’ve jio’ed a friend out time and time again
but they don’t show.
When you jump on the hybrid food bandwagon though it’s clearly no longer relevant.
I’m talking about none other than the nasi lemak fusion trend.
At this point in time, we’ve had our fair share of hybrid dishes featuring the well-loved dish:
- Nasi lemak burgers
- Nasi lemak cheesecakes
- Nasi lemak pizzas
- Nasi lemak gelatos
- Nasi lemak sandwiches
- Nasi lemak teas
- Nasi lemak sushis
- Nasi lemak pastas
- Nasi lemak waffles
And how much are you willing to bet that there’s actually far more to this list than we’ve even bothered to list?
Anchovies and sambal are arguably 2 of the elements with the strongest flavour profile in any nasi lemak and it’s never going to work in a gelato or a cheesecake. Or tea, for that matter.
If you’re going to craft a fusion dish, you had better know what you’re doing and you had better do it right.
Some mashups just don’t work: like Nicki Minaj and BTS for one.
And worse still: when it comes to food, nothing ruins a restaurant’s reputation quite like a badly done dish.
Yet, many eateries are still willing to take that risk.
I do see where our local eateries are coming from though.
The nasi lemak hybrid trend definitely works to spark a buzz.
Remember how the internet blew up when myBurgerLab sought to introduce the nasi lemak burger on its menu?
Most would try such a dish out of curiosity but because the flavours would hardly ever work together like a charm, it’s hard to generate return customers.
It’s clear that not many would return for that nasi lemak sushi or nasi lemak pizza, nor would it be their all-time favourite dish.
Hence, where some might see it as a fusion dish, all I see is con-fusion.
Don’t get me wrong though. By no means am I bashing the hybrid food trend as a whole. It works for a reason. It’s a breath of fresh air in a saturated F&B scene.
There’s the cronut frenzy back in 2013 which perhaps might have just been one of the pioneering dishes in the fusion food trend.
And then, there’s the genius ramen burger trend and the croffle—an interesting combination of croissants and waffles.
If you’re looking to stand out (frankly, which eatery doesn’t want this?), it’s natural to desire to be different: whether that might be a good kind of different or in this case, a terrible one.
Still, there’s a very fine line between being an innovative trendsetter and someone who’s doing it just for the laughs or for 15 seconds of fame.
So where does one draw the line?
Nasi lemak milkshakes and nasi lemak kuehs?
The way I see it, when you strip the core elements of a nasi lemak and mash it together in a dish that you know won’t work together—both in theory and practice—you’re essentially serving up a dose of disrespect to the nasi lemak.
So here it is. Here’s my open letter to all Malaysian eateries: stop trying to ruin a perfectly perfect dish.
No, your nasi lemak cheesecake or nasi lemak burger is not a genius idea and it’s gone past the mark of being creative. At this point, it’s clear that you’re just doing it for f*ck’s sake.
So stop ruining one of Malaysia’s most iconic dishes and just leave the nasi lemak alone.
Feature Image Credit: JoanLuvFeeling, AsiaOne