Our visit to the Blue Mountains was sweltering. Except for the better humidity, the weather was no different from home. The sun was blazing. The sky was hazy. Still the sight was spectacular. We had our share of exercise that day. We walked down to the Three Sisters. Walking down was not a problem. Walking back up was. At our age, the steps can be very exhausting.
At the end of our small adventure, we were dying a long cold drink and a nice cool place to sit down. Our stomachs were starting to grumble too. We drove to the nearby Katoomba town looking for relief. We had Vietnamese in our mind. Our target was a nice bowl of beef noodles. We walked the main street, hoping against hope to find a Vietnamese place.
We didn't find one. We started to look for alternatives. At this time, any cafe would suffice. "Let's go for some pies", Sam said. Then we saw this place - Unique Patisserie. Looked very ordinarily Aussie. Not particularly interesting....
Until we read the "small prints" on their display boards. "Malaysian cuisine. Penang style. Asam laksa. Nasi lemak..."
Inside, Mr Khoo greeted us. He spoke to us in Penang Hokkein. Made us feel absolutely at home.
Mr Khoo runs his small restaurant with his wife. His young son helps out. He hails from Penang. He said he has been in Katoomba for more than 20 years. But he started this business just a few months back.
His restaurant is apparently gaining popularity in Katoomba - not for the Malaysian food, but for his cakes and pastries. Khoo is a pastry chef. He had a good selection of his creations on display.
But cakes were not our immediately priority. We perused the menu. Eddy wanted char koay teow. It wasn't in the menu! What Penang restaurant worth its salt does not have char koay teow? Khoo explained that because of Katoomba's remoteness, supply of koay teow is inconsistent. He then called his son, "Ask Mummy if there is koay teow in the kitchen." His son came with an affirmative. "OK, no problem. We make char koay teow for you."
The char koay teow was as good as it could be. Of course there was no see hum (鲜蚶 - cockles). There were some nice good-size prawns instead. The koay teow was rather fat and thick. But this was Katoomba. We could not expect the works. Even though it wasn't the same, we enjoyed it nevertheless.
The nasi lemak was more authentic - served in a porcelain banana leaf. The rice was aromatic. There was a good serving of rendang chicken. And some real nice acar. The peanuts were not the same, and I missed the crunchy ikan bilis. All in all, it was a good plate of Malaysian nasi lemak.
The curry laksa looked yellowish and odd. But the taste was really quite good. The curry was rich in santan and flavourful. There were pieces of chicken and dry tofu with a sprinkle of deep fried shallots.
Sam had his pie. It was nice. But in the midst of what we were eating, it was rather out of place.
The Malaysian dishes were apparently all prepared by Mrs Khoo. As we near the end of our meal, she came out of the kitchen to chat with us. She was a very pleasant lady. Again, it was all in Penang Hokkein. "Why don't you try our assam laksa?" she said, "It is very nice." OK. Bring it on. We shall have a bowl of assam laksa.
In a short while, she returned with a big bowl of assam laksa. I took a spoonful of the soup. It blew me over. It was absolutely one of the best assam laksa I had ever tasted. It is no over-statement that I say that there is no assam laksa in KL, PJ and the Klang Valley that matches this one. The taste was authentically Penang. The spiciness and the sourness was just perfect. Mrs Khoo said she used a mix of tuna and mackerel to make her laksa soup. It was awesome. We talked about this bowl of assam laksa days afterwards.
Unique Patiserrie... We were so very glad we did not find any Vietnamese in Katoomba that day.