Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Malaysian food in Melbourne 1

We have just returned from a fabulous holiday in Melbourne. Sincere thanks to Eddy, Alan, Joyce and Bee for the marvelous hospitality. Also thanks to Sam and Sun for the great company - coming all the way from Sydney.

Soon after we landed and comfortably settled in our hosts' place, we met up with our nephew, and together we took a train to Melbourne Central station. From there, we crossed a street and went into Queen Victoria Square. In this pleasant but small enclosure was a Malaysian mamak restaurant - the Old Town Kopitiam Mamak.

It was a nice place - tugged at a corner of QV Square - with inside and outside dining. The place was very Malaysian with marble tables and chairs like those found in our old traditional coffee shops. Almost all the workers there were young and Asian, and judging from the way they spoke, they were either Malaysians or Singaporeans. At the back of the shop was a long counter where they prepare the drinks and behind it was stacked with tins of condensed milk, Milo and other beverage complements. And the guys prepare the tea and coffee out of tea/coffee socks that are so common in our local coffee shops.

There was also a counter where pre-prepared curries and other foods were displayed, not unlike those found in our mamak shops. 

The cafe offers a wide mamak selections - nasi kandar, mee goreng, nasi goreng, various types of roti canai, roti jala, roti bom and even roti john. Besides mamak stuffs, they also offer other Malaysian delicacies like otak-otak, kaya toasts, satay, sotong bakar, curry laksa, etc. They have a large variety of Malaysian beverages - the favorite, I guess, would be their teh tarik. It was a menu to tempt all Malaysians - whether living in Melbourne or casual visitors like us.

My wife had the nasi kandar - opting for some brinjals and a fried drum stick. I wonder what made her opt for this coming straight from Malaysia, because she does not fancy nasi kandar when she is at home. The food came in a ceramic banana leaf - so commonly used in our mamak eateries. The nasi looked rather mushy. I had a taste of it and did not like it. Neither did my wife. She said the curry was sweet. It was probably more suited to the mat-saleh taste.

My mee goreng mamak was really not bad. Except, like my wife's complaint of her nasi kandar, it was also somewhat sweet. Like they threw in a lot of sugar when they fried the noodles. It was good at the first few bites but as I progressed into the meal, the sweetness made it rather "jelak". Still, I think it was better than a lot of mee goreng in a lot of our mamak shops.

KJ had a plate of maggi mee goreng. Again, it was sweet. But he enjoyed it thoroughly. Perhaps he has been in Melbourne too long.

Crystal's dry (kon-lo 干捞) beef noodle looked very good indeed. It was served with generous portions of beef and a bowl of soup with some beef balls in it. However, it looked better than it tasted. The noodle was rather bland.

The ban chang kueh (described by them as Malaysian crepe) was quite good. It was freshly made, and was hot and crispy. However, I think they were rather stingy on the peanuts. There wasn't enough. 

The best that I tasted in this Melbourne kopitiam was definitely their teh tarik. It was thick, rich and very smooth. The tea was rather sweet, but I didn't mind it at all. My only grouse was that it came in a traditional coffee shop cup, the serving of which was rather small. I would prefer it in a glass like our mamak shops because I wanted more of the lovely tea. The teh tarik here beat all the mamak shops in Malaysia. No exaggeration. 

I could not contain my curiosity and asked a worker there. No they are not in any way affiliated with the Old Town White Coffee chain in Malaysia. But they have another outlet in Melbourne with a different menu that is not mamak in nature.

Not bad at all - being in a mat-saleh country.

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