He could not be at his father’s side in his final hours. That was just two days after Lee Eng Su opened The Coconut Club. The crowds were pouring in, and nobody else knew how to cook the rice for nasi lemak. It was a painful decision, and one that he reminds himself of two and a half years later. “If that was what I gave up, there has to be meaning in me doing this,” says Lee quietly.
Today, The Coconut Club has earned Bib Gourmand status in the 2018 Michelin Guide Singapore. But even before that, it got the endorsement of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who hosted Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte there for a meal in December 2016, just a month after it opened. While he fully appreciates the recognition, fame and glory is not what Lee is after.
KINDNESS MOVEMENT, ON A PLATE
For the usually-gregarious 40-year-old, the purpose of The Coconut Club goes beyond serving the ultimate nasi lemak. Certainly, he is a cooking enthusiast. As someone who grew up helping his paternal grandmother drizzle rum over chocolate cakes, and a son to a Cantonese woman with the ability to recreate just about any dish on tasting, Lee always had a keen interest in food – and started cooking in earnest during his university days in America. For his now-renowned nasi lemak, he spent close to two years researching and sourcing the best ingredients possible, and perfecting the recipe for every component, from the sambal ikan bili