Their concept is simple: bringing the traditional Malaysian Coffee shops into the 21st Century. Their continual expansion to become the household name of ‘authentic Malaysian cuisine’ replicated for the eighth time at its new home in Castle Hill, opening just a month ago, with owner, Grace at the helm.
Typical dishes from the hawker market stalls are brought from the open streets into a sit-down dining experience that’s really setting expectation levels for this style of cuisine to a new standard. You’ll find this in the classic Satay peanut sauce which we had with our chicken skewers (also available in beef). The meat on its own soothed with the marinade of lemongrass and turmeric, just as good on its own. But the dipping action required here rounds off the staple experience which is essential when opening your Malaysian cuisine experience.
Throughout the meal, keeping us entertained were the ever so flavorsome crispy chicken skin. A mountainous heap of indulgence perfectly queued to enhance the bite of the curry, bring crunch to the softening noodles, to dip into the sambal, satay and sweet chili sauces, but a nice prelude to the mains.
Malaysia has been fortunate to carry influences of Chinese, Indian, Thai and Indonesian. It its tastes, smells and colors, you’ll see an exotic blend of cosmopolitan cultures.
There was something very familiar about The Crispy Noodle dish, Pappa Wat Tan Hor, which we enjoyed. Almost reminiscent of a Chinese chow mein yet distinct characteristics in the consistency of the egg that is weaved through and left to cook in it’s hot broth while adding the texture that coats the prawn, fish cake and chicken. The wok fried noodles retain their crunch but absorb that rich sauce and as you work your way through the bowl, its the chow sum that provides the essential crunch to this dish.
Perhaps a descendant of the Thai influence would be in the Pappa Char Koay Teow. Much like the Pad Thai is the very familiar flat noodle, prawn, fish cake, egg, bean sprouts and chives. Again the subtle elements making it very Malaysian, the smokey charcoal flavor that comes through due to the way its cooked.
These influences extend from the use of the wok to the combinations of spices used in both these dishes.
When traditional Southeast Asian herbs and Indian spices meet, fragrant combinations of the Malaysian curry base (coriander and cumin) with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, cardamom, star anise and fenugreek fill the air. You’ll see the obvious merge of these cultures in the Roti Canai. That all too familiar contrast of inner fluffiness and crisp outer casing designed for dipping into the Curry Chicken sauce and accompanying dhal. Malay food is generally spicy. Dishes are not always necessarily chilli-hot per se, but there will always, at the least, be a chilli-based sambal on hand.
Rice is an essential staple in Asia, so naturally, at the core of Malaysian cuisine. The Nasi Lemak uses an Indian basmati, which is common in many biryani dishes. The elements of is why it is considered to be the national dish of the country. A dish of rice steamed with coconut milk, served with dried anchovies (ikan bilis), peanuts, hardboiled egg, cucumber, however this rendition uses samba fresh prawns (instead of dried shrimp) and curry chicken (the best of both worlds). A great salute to the past while modernising the portion and variation for big appetites like ourselves.
It’s essentially, a malaysian coffee shop, so the coconut juice was a nice way to cool things down between dishes.
One of the desserts demonstrates the versatility of Roti when paired with banana and vanilla ice cream – simple flavours working in magnifcent unison.
All in all, it was a symphony of flavours, showcasing the best of Malaysian and its highly complex and diverse flavours.