Tag Archives: Malaysian

Eating with your fingers is a must

Sri Devi Curry House, Northbridge

When J’s parents mentioned a new Indian Malaysian restaurant, Sri Devi Curry House, had popped up where Mak’s Place and later, Ipoh’s Corner, used to be, and that it was far superior to its predecessors, we were only too happy to join them for lunch to find out for ourselves.

In the interests of science and blog research, of course.

Upon arrival, we bumped into two of J’s parents’ oldest friends, who had decided to drop into Sri Devi last minute. With our group boosted to six, it meant more hands (and bellies) on deck to try out the food on offer.

Lunch at Sri Devi

One of the biggest draws of Sri Devi, for J’s dad, was the Saturday special, fish head curry. As we waited for ours to arrive, we spotted an older Chinese gentleman eating an entire bowl solo, with Just a small bowl of plain rice and a glass of water. A good sign.

Fresh pink snapper heads were used in this curry, swimming in a light curry sauce that packed reasonable heat and a great tang from the added tomatoes, lemongrass and turmeric.

Enjoying fish head curry is a relatively new thing for me – it always used to be “mum and dad food” at home – not a kid favourite, and therefore, cooked with extra chili.

Lunch at Sri Devi

We also shared two serves of vegetarian biryani ($7.00), which came laden with whole spices (cumin, cardamom), with lots of curry leaves and coriander mixed through. I found the biryani a surprise stand out. It was fragrant with just a touch of heat, and would have satisfied my appetite on its own, without the addition of meat or chicken.

Lunch at Sri Devi

J’s mum was more keen on murtabak ($12.00), and now I can totally understand why, after trying this one from Sri Devi.

Lunch at Sri Devi

Minced chicken, onion and egg are wrapped here in a thin roti canai (paratha) dough before being fried on the flat top grill. J’s mum and I got to chatting about the relative merits of murtabak, both agreeing that most places add way too much onion, leaving you with an unbalanced mix of flavours and textures. The onion to chicken ratio here was spot on.

The choice of chicken (instead of the usual mutton) was great too, as I’m not the biggest fan of mutton, generally. And if you’re feeling fishy – there’s even a sardine option too. (I assume ayam brand in tomato sauce? :))

Lunch at Sri Devi

Neither J or I could go past the roti canai, $6.00 for one, served with a meat curry sauce and dhal.

Lunch at Sri Devi

The roti canai here is *almost* as good as my mum’s. Or maybe my aunty’s. It’s smooth and silky on the inside, without a hint of toughness (a sure sign of over worked dough or too little ghee) and fried to flaky, golden perfection.

Frankly, I could eat these unadorned, every day, Monday through Friday – if overconsumption of ghee wasn’t at all a concern.

Lunch at Sri Devi

Teh tarik (“pulled” tea, $3.50) is on the drinks menu, and is the perfect thing to take the edge off the chili heat of your meal.

Alternatively, you might find other Malaysian favourites like Teh ice, Milo tarik or Nescafe (hot or cold), more your thing?

Sri Devi

The food was so good that J and I still weren’t satisfied, a full week after this meal. We found ourselves unmistakably craving roti canai ….

This time, we also sampled the Idli and sambal (a serve of 2 idli, $5.00) a South Indian specialty usually served at breakfast time.

Idli, if you haven’t tried them, are steamed savoury cakes. They’re made from a sourdough-like fermented batter, that contains finely ground rice and lentils. Once they’re steamed, they become light and fluffy, and they’re served hot – usually with two kinds of chutney (one chili-based, and one coconut-based).

Thosai are also offered on the menu – we shared one with J’s parents on our first visit (no picture, because we were too busy eating, sorry). Plain, egg, onion, cheese and masala options are all available, starting at $7.50 each.

Sri Devi

Sri Devi Curry House on Urbanspoon

Noodle Forum, Perth

Noodle Forum

If you’ve visited Malaysia or Singapore, you’ve probably been initiated into the joy that is hawker food. From noodles to deep fried bananas, some of the best food I’ve ever tried has come from these stalls.

Most of the time, each hawker stall only serves dishes that are related, either by cooking method or ingredient. Noodle hawkers make noodles. Porridge hawkers make porridge. And so on.

Though the variety of dishes on offer may be narrow, I find the devotion to a specific kind of food to be pretty special, as it showcases the skill of the cook in using a particular cooking style, method or star ingredient.

Noodle Forum

At Noodle Forum, the devotion to noodles; wantan mee (wantan noodles) to be exact, is pretty clear. Here, chef Erich Wong makes fresh egg-based wantan noodles daily, having perfected his craft over the last 40 years.

There’s no shortcuts here, and you’ll see real eggs being mixed by hand into every batch of noodles made by chef Erich. He’s clearly very passionate about his craft – which you’ll notice easily as you watch him making noodles through the glass doors of the kitchen adjoining the restaurant.

Chef Erich may be focused on his noodles, but he still finds the time to beckon me closer and pop his head out of the door to tell me that it’s fresh spinach being added to this batch of noodles.

Noodle Forum

I only had eyes for the BBQ pork noodles (char siu mee, $11.90), which are always my pick whenever I’m eating somewhere that specialises in this particular kind of noodle.

Noodle Forum

The noodles here are thin with a perfect bite that’s probably best described as toothsome or al dente. They’re tossed in a salty and sweet soy-based sauce.

Though the noodles are without a doubt the star of the show, the char siu (or BBQ pork) is a stunner, caramelised to a deep-dark crunch along the edges, with tender meat that’s rippled with just a hint of fat, leaving each mouthful juicy.

Word of warning: this is not crisp white shirt food. You might need a bib for the inevitable caused by eating with reckless abandon.

Noodle Forum

Like all the other noodles on offer, the Crispy Check Fillet Noodle, is also a bargain at $11.90. The noodles are dressed in the same soy-based sauce as the BBQ pork noodles.

Noodle Forum

But instead of juicy pork, here you’ll enjoy crisp chunks of tender chicken thigh, which are coated in a light crisp coating. The chicken is coated, deep fried, sliced and loaded atop the noodles with a generous drizzle of chili mayonnaise (I’m guessing Japanese Kewpie, spiked with chili).

Noodle Forum

Each bowl of noodles here comes with a signature crunchy cracker – made a dough that’s very similar to the wantan wrappers chef Erich churns out for Noodle Forum’s signature wantans in soup (5 for $5.50).

Noodle Forum

I’m swooning over the whole Exmouth prawn that’s enclosed inside each wantan with a generous mouthful of marinated minced Plantagenet free range pork. The wantan wrapper is silky and smooth, and rolled so thin I’m surprised there’s not a single tear in any of the dumplings.

The wantan soup is a clear broth spiked with loads of sliced spring onions. It’s salty but a little sweet, which is always a good sign in my book, signalling long slow cooking and lots of bones in the stock (here at Noodle Forum, that means Mount Barker free range chicken bones).

Even the salty and sour pickled chillies are homemade here. A good thing too, as they’re essential with noodles like this, just ask my Mum.

Noodle Forum

I couldn’t resist abandoning J for a moment to watch chef Erich making his noodles using a huge bamboo pole. You can watch the super short video I took of chef Erich making spinach noodles below:

Noodle Forum

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Like Noodle Forum on Facebook.

Opening hours 

Monday to Thursday: 11.00am to 5.30pm
Friday: 11.00am to 9.00pm
Saturday: 11.00am to 5.30pm
Closed Sunday

Could this be Perth’s best Laksa?

Laksa from Hawkers Delight, Subiaco

I’m no expert. But I’m definitely a fan of Laksa. Curry Laksa, curry mee, whatever you want to call it. I’ve been enjoying it ever since that first bite I shared with my Mum, when I was nine.

Perth’s Laksa offerings haven’t quite been the same since the old Newton Place stall in an underground food court off Murray Street closed … about … fifteen years ago.

Laksa from Hawkers Delight, Subiaco

If I were forced to name my top pick for Laksa in Perth – here’s my answer: Hawkers Delight.

The coconut-broth kicks you in the pants, and delivers that oh so satisfying back of the throat burn. It’s lemak, but sharp with a tang of lemongrass.

I know my Mum would be impressed and she’s my personal Laksa compass. Why? Because the laksa here at Hawkers Delight has definitely been made with a Laksa rempah (Malay for spice paste), not a repurposed chicken curry.

There’s shredded chicken, tofu puffs, fat bursty prawns, and my personal favourite – yee peng (fish cake) all jumbled up with topped and tailed bean sprouts. Mixed noodles (egg and rice) are the thing here, so make sure you specify if you prefer one over the other.

Now, for the million dollar question … which do I choose the next time I visit Hawkers Delight – the fantastic Nasi Lemak, or the Laksa? #firstworldproblems

Read my previous post about Hawkers Delight

Hawkers Delight on Urbanspoon

Hawkers Delight, Station Street Markets, Subiaco

Hawker's Delight

J and I have been on a bit of a Malaysian food kick recently. All due to one place – Hawkers Delight, located at the Station Street Markets in Subiaco.

It’s hard to talk about Malaysian food without thinking of Char Kuey Teow. Hawkers Delight tick all the boxes with their version of this popular hawker dish.

Fat prawns, sliced lup cheong (Chinese sausage), garlic chives and fat bean sprouts are tumbled together with flat rice noodles and bright yellow strands of egg.

It’s spicy and heady with the essential flavour that only comes from being cooked over a searing hot wok. Don’t worry if you’re not a chili hero – you can choose from mild, medium, hot or searing when you order! :)

The most outstanding part? Fried lard cubes. The crunchy, rich, evil-yet-delectable little pieces of goodness that takes your standard Char Kuey Teow to truly authentic heights.

Hawker's Delight

Another option of course, is the equally popular Chai Tow Kuey, if you’re not in the mood for protein with your carbs.

Chai Tow Kuey uses cubed radish cake in place of the noodles, which are quickly fried in a searing wok with chives, bean sprouts, dark soy, chili and egg.

Hawker's Delight

My favourite dish to order at Hawkers Delight is, without a doubt, their fragrant, totally authentic, Nasi Lemak.

I don’t think I’ve ever met a Malaysian who doesn’t have a soft spot for this, the national dish, and when you taste the Nasi Lemak on offer here, it’s no wonder why.

The rice is rich from the flavour of coconut milk, the odd shred of ginger, and I’m guessing the necessary piece of knotted Pandan for added aroma.

It comes served with the traditional partners: half a hard boiled egg, crunchy Ikan Bilis (the tiny fried fish, served whole) and peanuts, and sliced cold cucumber. Don’t forget the generous dollop of spicy, Belacan rich sambal, and my favourite part – the super crispy fried chicken wing!

It’s a good idea to get your wriggle on, if you’re planning on ordering the fantastic Nasi Lemak at Hawkers Delight. Their crispy fried chicken is very popular (as a snack, and as part of their Nasi Lemak), and sells out quickly.

Hawker's Delight

But if you happen to miss out, don’t despair! The alternative protein option happens to be some of some of the best Malaysian chicken curry I’ve ever had in Perth (that wasn’t cooked by my Mum, or any of my aunties!)

J and I love the sambal here. I wonder whether we could convince them to bottle it and sell it? :)

Hawker's Delight

Another special item on the menu which is worth checking out is the Loh Mai Kai (chicken sticky rice), which features tender pieces of chicken, sweet-salty slices of Chinese sausage (lup cheong) and juicy Chinese mushrooms (dried shiitake) over fragrant, garlicky glutinous rice.

Loh Mai Kai is a steamed in a Chinese soup bowl (or similar), and comes plated with all the protein goodies on top. It’s a filling, satisfying dish that’s great at any time of day – in fact, for the Chews, Loh Mai Kai was often a breakfast special my late grandma would make.

Now that she’s no longer with us, I’m so excited to have found a source of one of my childhood favourites on this side of town!

And if I’m ever in the mood for a late weekend breakkie – Hawkers have it covered, as they’re open early from 9.00am.

Hawker's Delight

After all your chili, if you’re keen for a drink, Hawkers Delight also sell a range of Malaysian favourites, including Teh Tarik, Barley Water, Soya Bean Milk and Cendol. In fact, their Barley Water has become a ‘must drink’ for J and I whenever we visit the Subi markets – whether we’re eating or not!

Hawkers Delight on Urbanspoon

Sassy’s Red, Westfield Sydney

I heart Westfield

During our ten days in Sydney, I was eager to check out the many many eating options at Westfield Sydney. Truth be told, we’re a little starved for variety when it comes to shopping centre eats in Perth… Stepping into our Westfield locations reveals the standards – fast food, doughnuts and the ever ubiquitous kebab.

Westfield Sydney offered a much more exciting array of food outlets, including this beautifully retro step into Malaysia – Sassy’s Red.

I heart Westfield

Sassy’s Red joins restaurateur Simon Goh’s other well-known Sydney locations, Chinta Ria…Temple of Love and Chinta Ria…Mood for Love.

Sassy’s is a beautifully fitted out blast from the past, one which is so familiar to me and yet so foreign. Foreign, for one pretty good reason – because I’m at least twenty years too young.

I heart Westfield

Despite suffering from a significant age gap, I still have a pretty clear mental picture of this version of Malaysia.

My mind is shaped by the photographs from my parents’ youth. Dad with the goofy Buddy Holly glasses and brylcreemed hair. Mum at her wedding – with her long black hair in a bun so high it could have rivaled Amy Winehouse’s and fantastic black-lined eyes.

The decor at Sassy’s also remind me of the comics by Malaysian cartoonist Lat which I read from cover to cover as a kid. I spot retro fonts and design used on the menu boards throughout. There’s vintage looking signs saved from kopi tiams and glamour shots of pretty Chinese ladies, dolled up and dressed up in their best cheong sams.

I heart Westfield

And then of course, there’s most significant thing of all.

The food.

There’s something so comforting about Roti Canai or Roti Pratha. It’s been one of my favourite foods since I was a kid.

Eating the crispy, flaky, buttery layers, reminded me immediately of helping my Mum make this special treat.

We would huddle over our kitchen table, ghee in our hands, meticulously stretching the slippery, greasy dough into paper-thin layers, before folding them into rough circles and frying them on a griddle until golden brown.

I would usually share the first one straight off the stove with Mum – the cook’s treat, of course – with a sprinkling of white sugar.

I heart Westfield

The most important part; as demonstrated by this version from Sassy’s Red, is the final touch – quickly crumpling the fried roti in your bare hands before serving – which unfurls the soft layers inside.

I heart Westfield

The golden roti are perfect enjoyed with a bowl of curry gravy or served with a bowl of spicy dhal.

Taking a bite of roti with the curry from Sassy’s reveals a sauce that’s rich with coconut milk and flavoured with tumeric, lemongrass and chili.

It immediately makes me think of the rhythm of the mortar and pestle going thump thump thump, a sound which transports me into the kitchen of my childhood, and being my Grandma’s kitchen ‘shadow’ while she made the rempah (spice paste) in preparation for the chicken curry we would be eating for dinner.

The curry at Sassy’s will never be my Grandma’s, but its a pretty good start. It’s typically Malaysian – richly flavoured, yet quite liquid in texture – just perfect for dunking pieces of hot Roti.

I heart WestfieldAnd to end my trip down foodie-memory lane? An icy cup of cold sugarcane juice. Perfect. I could be on a street in KL.

Sassy's Red on Urbanspoon

Read about our other food adventures in Sydney

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Jackie M Malaysian Cuisine, Concord

Mmm, fried chicken.

I was really excited to be visiting Jackie M Malaysian Cuisine. For this meal, we were meeting two new friends, Craig and Caroline (well, new in that we hadn’t met in person).

With fellow food bloggers at the table, it was comforting to know that cameras were welcomed, and ordering food to share was preferable, to maximise our tasting options. Excellent! :)

Ayam Goreng, 4 for $12

Craig and Caroline had already tried some of Jackie’s food at the recent Malaysia Fest in Sydney, so they had already filled us in on it. And I had been chatting with the lady herself on Twitter, so I was keen to taste her food for myself.

Curry Puffs, 4 for $12

We got straight into ordering, and picked the Ayam Goreng (Fried Chicken) and Curry Puffs to share.

Jackie’s Ayam Goreng is marinated and served piping hot, cloaked in a super crunchy batter. Delectable.

I still maintain there’s no better curry puff in the world than my Mum’s. Or my Aunty Molly’s. (It’s a family recipe!) But if I didn’t know any better, I’d tell you that these were magnificent.

These curry puffs feature a flaky, buttery pastry, and are filled with a spicy meat or veggie filling. Flaky pastry is a personal must when it comes to curry puffs. Nothing’s more disappointing than curry puffs made with rock-solid shortcrust pastry.

Teh Tarik, $3.50

If you need to cool your mouth, then there’s even Malaysian drinks on the menu. I couldn’t go past a Teh Tarik, something I drank all the time when we visited Malaysia and Singapore last year.

Nasi Lemak $15, with dhal, add $5

I couldn’t leave without trying the Nasi Lemak, and I’m very glad I did! Nasi Lemak is my all time favourite Malaysian dish.

Presentation varies depending on where you buy it. It can be simple – brown paper wrapped servings of coconut rice, accompanied by a small blob of sambal and a sprinkling of crunchy ikan bilis and peanuts, and not much else.

Jackie’s version is a more deluxe take on Malaysia’s national dish, featuring fried ikan billis, crunchy peanuts, achar (picked veggies), cucumber slices, boiled egg and beautifully fragrant coconut rice. We decided to upsize and added some dhal.

 Char Kway Teow $14, add chicken $4, add prawns, calamari and fishcake $6

This golden tumble of kway teow (flat rice noodles), egg, chives and bean sprouts were deliciously charry, featuring that great ‘wok hei’ flavour that all good CKT needs.

Check out the bursty prawns!

Naturally, we also added chicken, prawns, calamari and fishcake to our order. I’m happy to report that I stand by this decision ;) Not an overcooked prawn or piece of calamari in sight – everything was beautifully tender.

Roti Canai, $7.50

Roti Canai was definitely on the list of things to try, as it was a favourite of everyone in attendance. Jackie serves her Roti Canai with dhal and sambal, which packs quite a punch. As usual, I was happily munching on pieces of Roti Canai unadorned – I just love it plain.

When made well, as this was, it’s flaky and crispy on the outside, and tender and moist on the inside. I always love the way Roti Canai (or Paratha) is made up of layer after layer of delciously buttery dough. Yum.

But if it’s protein that you want to go with your Roti, then you can’t go past some of Jackie’s Beef Rendang. Tender chunks of beef are simmered in a rich gravy, which has been thickened with toasted coconut (kerisik). It’s also fantastic with hot rice, or coconut rice (we ordered extra! A generous bowl is only $3.50)

Roti Kaya, $8.50

But before we left, we had to try the much talked about Roti Kaya. We were also keen to try the Roti Banana and Ais Campur, but unfortunately they weren’t available that night.

Filled with Kaya, a rich, eggy coconut “jam”, this Roti was a treat for the masses. We sliced it up into pieces to share and it was demolished in minutes. I swear the flaky, buttery goodness of Roti Canai gets even better with the addition of Kaya in the middle.

I think you can guess that by the end we were stuffed!

TFP and I snuck out the back to say hi to Jackie. It was great to finally put a face to a name, and to taste her fantastic food.

Eating this meal made me want to return to Malaysia for another holiday. Or move to Sydney. I can’t decide which!

Jackie M Malaysian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Visit Jackie’s website     |     Visit Craig and Caroline’s blog Damn Fine Food

Read about our other food adventures in Sydney

Ten-Ten-Lunch-Specials-5

Weekend lunch at Ten Ten Kitchen

Last Saturday J and I joined his Mum and Dad for a quick lunch in between errands. We decided to go to Ten Ten Kitchen, to satisfy our collective craving for hawker-style Malaysian. I hadn’t been back to Ten Ten since the dinner we enjoyed with my Aunties S and J.

There’s lots of choices on Ten Ten’s lunch special menu – something for everyone, I’d say – including the favourites of our group, Laksa, Chicken Rice and Char Kway Teow. The specials are reasonably priced at between $8.00 – $14.50.
The restaurant was packed when we arrived, and we were quickly told to find a seat in the back. After making our choices, we flagged down a waiter, who looked incredibly rushed (and harrassed, by the table that ordered before us) but he was quick and efficient.

J and his Dad both chose the Hainanese Chicken Rice – when given the choice of leg or breast, there was no discussion – always leg!

The chicken was nice and tender, served at its usual lukewarm to cold (typical of this dish), with flavoursome rice. In fact, I thought the rice was among the best I’ve tasted since my beloved Ang’s Chicken Rice rice… (Sadly, Ang’s closed last year)

J’s Mum chose the Char Kway Teow, which was unfortunately a little lacking for her. We wondered whether it was because she didn’t specify how much chili she wanted, or if it was their standard.

No, not a speck of chili to be seen here…

If it’s chili you’re after, then the Laksa at Ten Ten might be a better bet. I was pleased to see it had a speckly top layer of chili oil (always a good sign) and included generous amounts of yee peng (fish cake), prawns, shredded poached chicken, and half a hard boiled egg. The bean sprouts were a little harder to find…but to be honest – not a problem for me, as I wouldn’t call myself a fan!

As usual, I ordered my Laksa ‘mee hoon only’ (rice vermicelli) – when it comes to Laksa, my preference is always rice noodles, not the richer egg noodles.

I thought this Laksa was excellent. Mum and I always lament the balance of Laksa curry bases available around Perth. It’s got to have a chili kick, sure, and you can always count on a rich coconutty broth. But it’s all in the detail – you need a curry that’s light in flavour, with the right notes of lemongrass, galangal, ginger and garlic. It’s not the same as the standard chicken curry, and a Malaysian-style Laksa is definitely not something that’s well replicated by restaurants serving Thai or Vietnamese. Ten Ten Kitchen definitely have the right Laksa base.

J and I also enjoyed a Fresh Soya Bean and a Coconut Juice. Refreshing and delicious! J’s parents shared a pot of Chinese tea.


Ten Ten Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Hawker’s Cuisine, Northbridge


Hawker’s Cuisine is a gem of a place, hidden in the alleyway behind The Shanghai Shed (officially called The Old Shanghai Food Court) in Northbridge. It’s not far from Perth’s favourite destination for all night eats – Billy Lee’s.

I imagine there must be lots of people around who haven’t heard of it, even though it’s been around for a number of years.


Step inside, and you’ll be greeted by a glass-fronted chiller, filled with fresh fish, individually wrapped soft-shelled crabs, and large banana prawns.

Business is bustling. The waitstaff are quick on their feet, ferrying hot plates to waiting tables, and clearing away dishes from groaning diners.


I personally love the bright orange walls and the fruity decorations hanging from the ceiling.

TFP, Jac, J and I arrived on a busy Saturday night. After quick deliberation, we settled on some dishes – a mix of old favourites and things we’d never tried before. It’s been at least a couple of years since I last ate at Hawker’s, so I was very keen to sample some of the dishes I loved so much the first time around.

The drinks menu at Hawker’s includes all the Malaysian and Singaporean favourites, from iced tea to Horlicks. We went with Iced Lychee (TFP), Iced Lemon Tea (Jac), Iced Longan (J) and Iced Teh (me).

In my previous post, a visit to Mak’s Place for Malaysia Kitchen Summit, I mentioned my love of super-strong Teh. This one from Hawker’s was a cracker – perfectly brewed to a deep brown and sweetened with the addition of condensed milk.

One of my personal favourites is the hotplate tofu. Though I’m not sure if it’s strictly Malaysian, this popular dish seems to appear on the menus of a number of Chinese-Malaysian restaurants around town.

Soft, pillowy pieces of Japanese egg tofu are lightly floured and deep fried, placed over a hotplate-fried egg and covered in a thick sauce flecked with pork mince.

This was the dish that changed my mind about tofu. Sure, I wouldn’t call myself a fan by any means, but we’ve come to an arrangement now. If served like this, then we definitely get along. It’s perfect served over hot steaming rice which soaks up the flavoursome sauce perfectly.

Top row: Marmite Chicken, bottom row: Salted Egg Yolk Soft-Shell Crab

Marmite Chicken is a favourite in Singapore and Malaysia, featuring – you guessed it, Marmite! In this dish, the addition of Marmite enhances the sticky, savoury, salty and sweet sauce. The chicken pieces, which had been coated in a light batter and deep fried, were tender and juicy despite the two-step cooking process. A triumph for chicken fans!

As a kid, I used to regard Salted (duck) egg yolks as a total food fail. Inserted into my favourite Moon Cakes, they created a clash of sweet and savoury that my ten-year-old tastebuds could not handle. The slightly sandy, usually crumbly texture of the yolks was also weird. Who wants a dry yolk? Not I, sir.


Now, almost 15 years later, the presence of salted egg yolk dusting crunchy deep fried crab is a total delight. The golden crumbs which coat each piece only add to the deliciousness. They’re really only delicately salted – most of the salt which the eggs are ‘cured’ in seeps into the egg white, leaving the yolk with a hint of salty tang.

The yolk which the fried soft-shelled crab was tossed in was both pretty and delicious to eat, adding (more) richness to the dish. These soft-shelled crabs were lovely – nicely tender and meaty.

In the interests of eating a more balanced meal, we also ordered the stir-fried vegetables of the day with garlic. Saturday’s offering included crunchy kai lan, sweet bok choy and tender choy sum. Even the stringy-vegetable fearing Jac and J were able to eat this, with only a few pieces rejected on the grounds of being a little too stringy. J remarked that it was definitely the generous addition of garlic which helped him enjoy the greens.

The fresh leaves and crunchy stalks had been helpfully sliced into perfect bite sized pieces; the ideal when wielding chopsticks.

To top things off, we had also ordered the Sarawak Pork. I’ve never visited East Malaysia (where the state of Sarawak is located) and I’ve never heard of this dish before.

Strips of poached pork belly in a sweet soy-based sauce were swaddled by fried firm tofu and perfectly cooked hard boiled eggs. The sauce was flavoured with star anise, cloves and cinnamon.

It reminded me very much of my Grandma’s favourite one-pot dish, pork and chicken in soy sauce. She used to cook it for the family most often on a Saturday night, a dish she could cook earlier in the day and serve for dinner, usually with hard boiled eggs, dried bean curd sheets (foo chok) and dried Shiitake mushrooms. It was nice to be reminded of it! :)

Jac found the pork too fatty for her liking. The meat was rippled with fat, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I love the combination of the spices used in the sauce – they really complement meat well.

Ice Kacang is a technicolour shaved ice confection, usually eaten as a snack or dessert. Kids love it – I know I did, and it’s obvious why. Covered in sweet rose syrup and usually evaporated milk, the shaved ice sits over a mound of black grass jelly, creamed corn, attap chee (palm seeds soaked in syrup), and mashed sweetened red beans.

Hawker’s serve a slightly different version to my old favourite, instead including red beans, creamed corn, canned lychees, jelly bits and black grass jelly, with the ice well covered in rose syrup and coconut milk.

You’ve got to eat it fast. We decided to share – TFP speedily dished out our portions into smaller bowls. As you can see from the photo above, it really is eat or you’ll miss it, as your once beautiful snowy pile of ice and syrup turns into slush.

I was pleased to find a good mix of classic Malaysian and Singaporean favourites on the Hawker’s menu. From drinks to mains, there’s plenty of things on the menu to satisfy the purists and Malaysian food newbies alike.

I’m so glad that the food is just as good as I remembered at Hawker’s Cuisine. I’ll try not to let two-years come between me and the next visit!

Hawker's Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Open for dinner Tuesday to Sunday

Juji Chews dined at Hawker’s Cuisine as a guest of Malaysia Kitchen.

If you enjoyed my post, please visit Malaysia Kitchen Blogger Summit and vote by clicking like!

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Mak’s Place, Northbridge


When people talk about Malaysia, and Malaysian people, it’s often said that food is more than just the thing that sustains you.

It’s a national past time. A pursuit which is appropriate for any time of day. And usually, it’s the first thing on everyone’s mind.

Sure, there’s time-appropriate meals. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are standard meal times just as they are in Australia, but there’s also a variety of wonderful “any time” foods which are common.

They’re easy to find at local joints, and they’re the sort of dishes that are excellent company for a cup of Kopi (coffee) or Teh (tea), brewed hot and strong, and laced with sweetened condensed milk.

This week, in hot pursuit of the perfect food for any time of day, J and I visited Mak’s Place in Northbridge.

We started with the classics – a Teh Tarik ($3.00, which literally means ‘pulled tea’ – a reference to the pouring action used to make the foamy ‘head’), and  an Iced Kopi Tarik ($3.50).

Both J and I developed quite an addiction to the strong stuff (the caffeinated kind) last year when we visited Singapore and Malaysia. These weren’t quite as strong as we would have liked – I prefer a really strong, deep brown Teh, but they were well flavoured and really well prepared (look at that awesome foamy top on my mug!)


One of J’s favourite Malaysian dishes which fit today’s bill was Roti Paratha ($5.00, sometimes called Roti Canai). A variation on the flaky unleavened Indian staple, Malaysian Parathas are rich with ghee (clarified butter) and made with eggs. They’re flaky and crisp on the outside, with lovely soft layers inside.

Mak’s obviously make their own Parathas, as evidenced by the irregularly folded square, not round, shape of their gorgeously flaky Roti. The outer layers were perfectly browned, crispy and light. You can even see tiny bubbles in the photo above, which just added to the great textural crunch.

The shallow dish of curry gravy which is usually standard with Parathas was included here – most likely a chicken curry, which was deliciously creamy with coconut milk, and well flavoured with turmeric, ginger and all the good stuff.

For our next dish, we sampled another Malaysian great – Satay ($8.80 for five sticks, chicken or beef). While there’s been great debate over the origins of this dish, with many arguing that it all started in Indonesia – I think it’s worth mentioning that there’s also a historical link between these two countries (with the early trade routes which spanned from West Malaysia to Borneo and Indonesia in the east), which no doubt also led to shared cuisine.

Frankly, I don’t care who started it. We can all claim it, just like Australians and Kiwis claim the Pavlova :)

I’ve eaten Satay for as long as I can remember. When my family migrated to Australia, one of the things my parents and late grandma were keen to continue was the great Satay cook off. This family event was often an annual one, usually as Dad’s birthday celebration, as Satay is one of his favourite foods.

Mak’s Satay was probably the closest I’ve ever tasted in a restaurant to truly home made Satay. Of all the dishes we ate, this one was a stand out. The tender chicken thigh was well grilled with that tell-tale flavour of charcoal (a good sign), and had the perfect sweet-salty-turmeric ratio. I could have closed my eyes and imagined it was fresh off the grill from Dad’s own hands.

The Satay sauce was a well balanced blend of peanuts, chili and spice – with a great texture that was rich with peanut chunks, and saucy enough to coat each bite of Satay. I reckon this is the most delicate balancing act when it comes to making your Satay sauce right. It shouldn’t be liquid. And it shouldn’t be so finely processed it resembles peanut butter. You’ve got to have chunks. But it has to stay on the sticks.

The traditional accompaniments for Satay are chopped cucumber, red onion and Ketupat (compressed rice cakes) featured here in Mak’s version. They may seem like pretty pedestrian accompaniments, but they really work so well with Satay. Most people say it’s just not Satay without these three things!


We also sampled the Tahu Goreng ($9.00, which literally means ‘fried tofu’). Covered in the rich peanutty Satay sauce and topped with crunchy fried shallots, the chunks of fried tofu were mixed with a generous handful of quickly blanched mung bean sprouts and crunchy juicy pieces of fresh cucumber.

Truth time: I’m not really the biggest tofu fan.

Still, I soldiered on. I really wanted to like it. The satay sauce was delicious. But sadly, this one wasn’t for me. J and I both felt it was a little lacklustre – not for lack of trying, but because the blanched sprouts had added a pool of water to the bowl, diluting the sauce and making everything seem tepid. We struggled to finish this mountain of tofu – I would have happily paid the same for half the dish. It was definitely family-sized.

In Malaysia, many interesting and hunger-inducing incarnations based on (or around) the classic Paratha have been made. One of them is Murtabak ($9.50), a traditionally Indian Muslim speciality that features spicy minced lamb and egg, fried inside a flaky paratha outside.

Mak’s place offers two varieties, chicken and beef ($8.50), opting to move away from the usual minced lamb. They’ve also lightened it significantly with the addition of crunchy chopped celery.

To be honest, after reading the description of Mak’s version, I was hesitant. Not at all like the usual Murtabak’s I had eaten. My apprehension turned out to be in vain – I really enjoyed this version, precisely because it wasn’t like the super-rich, heavy lamb versions I’ve eaten in the past.

The chicken mince was quite lean but was held together nicely by the egg. The crunch of the celery was a welcome change which went surprisingly well with the (traditional) sweet soft onions.

Different. But change is good, I think, especially when Malaysian’s love changing up the classics. Just look at Pizza Paratha!

Despite the slight shift from the traditional, I really enjoyed that the food we tried Mak’s Place had a distinctly home made and home-cooked feel. Everything was obviously freshly prepared where it counts (Roti Parathas are not a cook and keep food), and lovingly prepared (Satay prep takes FOREVER. I say this as a person who has endured hours of skewering and turmeric-yellowed fingernails).

It was great to see my favourite Malaysian foods on their menu and wonderful to taste genuinely Malaysian flavours in all the dishes we tried.

I have to say it’s just a shame they don’t keep Mamak stall or Kopi tiam (coffee shop) hours. I know where I’d be when I need my mid-morning Roti Paratha and Teh Tarik fix!

 
Mak's Place on Urbanspoon

Opening hours
Wednesday – Friday 12.00pm – 3.00pm, 5.00pm – 9.00pm
Saturday 11.30am – 9.00pm
Sunday 11.30am – 8.00pm
Closed Monday and Tuesday

Juji Chews dined at Mak’s Place as a guest of Malaysia Kitchen.

 


If you enjoyed my post, please visit
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roti

Ria Authentic Malaysian Food, Leederville

Pork Rib Nibbles

For my second post as part of the Malaysian Kitchen Blogger Summit, I decided to visit Ria Authentic Malaysian Food, a well known fixture on Oxford Street. It’s been around for a number of years, but I’ve never been – this was the perfect time to change that!

J and I met up with our good friend (and former housemate) E for dinner on Monday night. Monday nights are a recent addition to Ria’s opening hours and proved to be popular, with the restaurant rapidly filling up by the time we arrived at 7.30.

We started off with the Pork Rib Nibbles ($16.50). We were pleased to see the golden brown huddle of tender bite-sized pork rib pieces arrive, which had been tossed in a sweet, salty, zingy mix of soy sauce, chili and shreds of fresh ginger. I loved the gentle chili hit from this dish – just enough to get my taste buds really going! Definitely a winner for fans of pork :)

We also ordered a round of drinks – a glass of Flametree Embers Semillion Sauvignon Blanc for E ($8.00) and a pint of Billabong Ginger Beer ($10.00) for J. As the designated driver, I went with the Iced Lemon Tea ($4.50) – I was expecting a bottle of Liptons, but instead was presented with a frosty glass of home made tea, with a shot glass of sugar syrup on the side to mix it to my liking. Win!

The first dish to arrive was the Nyonya Chicken Curry ($22.00) which featured a rich, thick gravy, fragrant with cinnamon, turmeric and chili. The pieces of boneless chicken were super tender – practically falling apart when I speared them with my fork!

Two flaky Roti ($3.00) arrived with the curry, perfect for mopping up the tasty gravy.

Nyonya Vegetable Curry

Seafood Tamarind

However, we didn’t have much time to enjoy our chicken and roti, as the other dishes we ordered arrived moments after. We had also ordered the Nyonya Vegetable Curry ($16.00) – keeping with my Nyonya homestyle curry kick! This curry was rich with coconut, and featured fresh chunky vegetables as well as soft pillows of fried tofu. Lovely! E liked it so much she went back for seconds.

The other dish we had ordered was the Seafood Tamarind ($25.00). Tamarind-based curries featured often in the Chew household, but as a kid I always avoided them. Mum used to always say “it’s an acquired taste”. I never really understood what that meant, and used to attempt a few bites in protest (if you’re all eating it it must be good) but sadly the sour curries always ended up abandoned on my plate – until now!

As a grown up I can totally see the appeal of these tangy dishes – the acidic note really complements seafood so well. Ria’s seafood selection included big chunks of white flaky fish, fat bursty prawns (which had been considerately poached separately to avoid overcooking) and super tender pieces of fresh squid. The sauce which covered the seafood was tangy and rich, and tasted great with the fresh seafood. I think I would have enjoyed more chili in this dish, but that’s not a huge issue, and probably preferable for many people!

In the spirit of over-ordering – we had also picked the Nasi Kunyit ($6.50), my favourite Malaysian rice which gets it’s somewhat lurid yellow from tumeric (the dish gets the name from tumeric, which is ‘Kunyit’ in Malay). This version was fancier than the Nasi Kunyit I’ve eaten elsewhere – with plump sultanas scattered through the rice.

I probably would have enjoyed this more with a less extensive selection of dishes on the table…

We took a brief break after our plates were cleared (very attentive and quick service here – a big plus in my book!) and perused the dessert menu.

E asked me for a dessert recommendation, so I suggested the Kueh Dadar ($.850). She was pleased to receive a beautifully plated dish with one large rolled up pandan pancake filled with sweet palm sugar coated coconut, and a scoop of smooth vanilla ice cream.

She very kindly let me steal a bite – which was delicious! I loved the sweet coconut and palm sugar filling – and I really loved that the kueh was served hot, a great departure from the usual, which is kueh served straight out of the fridge!

J loved his choice, Homemade Pandan Ice Cream with Spiced Pineapple ($8.50) – this was obvious from the head down, talk free shovelling going on at his side of the table! He was very happy with the spiced pineapple – an unusually savoury compote of tangy pineapple. He thought it was actually a great partner for the ice cream, and I have to agree – the cinnamon and star anise which flavoured the pineapple were a great addition, and as it wasn’t too sweet, it didn’t end up sickly. Loved it!


Our friendly wait person told us that Banana Pudding was available that night instead of the usual Homemade Mango Pudding. I think my eyes probably lit up with glee.

Bananas have been expensive ever since Cyclone Yasi, the Queensland floods and Kimberley floods  affected the main growing regions around the country. It’s been hard for a die-hard banana lover like me.

This pudding made up for all the months of missing my favourite fruit. The sweet wobbly pudding was strongly flavoured with banana, and also featured nice chunks of it. Not the gross artificial flavour of an essence though, instead this was the real deal. Underneath the generous layer of fresh whipped cream and toasted coconut curls, there was also a thick layer of rich chocolate ganache, which was a delicious addition (though totally unnecessary for this banana fan).

I loved the curry. And the pork rib bites. And the roti.

But I have to tell you, this dessert had me drooling for the rest of the night!

The food here is definitely pricier than the standard Malaysian take away favourites, but Ria has made some welcome changes to their food, service and presentation which set them apart from the rest. From the nice surroundings (no sticky plastic table cloths or melamine ware to be seen here) to that extra level of customer service (instead of the usual cursory grunt), and the care taken with the little details (decent wine list and dessert options).

It’s worth a visit if you’re a fan of Malaysian food, and particularly if you want the full experience, well packaged from entree to dessert.

Ria on Urbanspoon

Open Monday – Sunday 5.30 – 10.00pm

Juji Chews dined at Ria Authentic Malaysian Food as a guest of Malaysia Kitchen.


If you enjoyed my post, please visit
Malaysia Kitchen Blogger Summit and vote by clicking like!