Okay. I lied.
I lied. I lied to my friends that I actually liked the food at The Malaya when I don't. I told them it is okay, when I obviously trying not to be too contradictory. I feel ashamed of myself. What has happened to me?!
The problem is not me, the problem is the whole fine dining experience that people have high expectations and people want to hear and read good things about the food and the restaurant. After the meal at The Malaya, I actually don't think much of the food, I was neutral. No, actually I was boiling with anger. I was so angry that I had to have some Gelatissimo ice cream to cool myself down after the meal!
It was meant to be a night for the Merivale $33 specials at Ash St Cellar with her, her and him. The "no booking" policy, just show up and be told to wait 25 mins for a table is not the right ingredient for a good night out. We left and head down to King Street Wharf for alternatives. "All you can eat mussels" at Bungalow 8 on a "tight arse Tuesday" seems like a good idea - ONLY if we knew we have to book in advance.
Totally deflated, run out of options and we are getting desperate. We peek through the window at every single Restaurants on Lime Street - Steersons, Kobe Jones, Wagamama, Spice Room - The Malaya. Spice Room? Never heard of it, and looks empty, so we decided is worth a try. The door is locked! With a sign indicating the entrance is via The Malaya main restaurant. We walk into The Malaya only to be told the Spice room is part of the restaurant, just a special room for special occasions. Since we already there, what the heck, the brain is overruled by the empty tummy. So we sit down.
The restaurant is actually quite full, mostly businessmen in suits. The open planned kitchen stretched along the dining area on one side, with at least 15 staffs working away frantically. There are set menus cater for 2 to 4 people, but we decided to go a la carte and share.
Roti canai is the first to arrive. The roti is quartered into 4 pieces and comes with a bowl of curry chicken dipping sauce. The roti is pan fried till crisp but not airy. The curry sauce is mild and inviting. We are happy to share but one quarter each is just not enough.
The Chicken Satay is probably one of the dishes that stay true to its authenticity, especially the peanut satay sauce. The chicken is very tender and marinated well with turmeric and other spices. The peanut sauce is bold, aromatic and with a hint of Sambal Chilli.
"My mum is gonna faint if she finds out four satay sticks for $18.00!", Ms C&C music factory in distress.
When the so-called Popiah arrives, me and Ms C&C music factory give each other the disapproval look. The popiah at Malaya is definitely not how it should be. Popiah literally means "thin wafer/biscuit", but the version at this restaurant resembles a Vietnamese rice paper roll, stuffed with bean sprouts and drenched with mysterious sickening sweet chilli sauce.
"My mum is gonna kill me if she finds out $13 for two popiah," Ms C&C music factory whines again.
I love my Kwai Du (Char Kuey Teow) and Malaya does a pretty decent version of it. The "breath of the wok" (Wok Hei) shines through with the slippery rice noodle and plump fresh prawns. Unfortunately it is a little under flavoured and in need of more soy sauce.
"My mum is gonna have heart attack if she finds out the kwai du costs $22!", Ms C&C music factory is eating everything with her mum on her mind.
The Szechuan Chicken seems to be everyone's favorite. The tender chicken is lightly coated in corn starch then stir fried with dry chillies, shallots and cashew nuts for the crunch. The dish is mild as I would prefer it to be "szechuan" hot, and with a rather weird sweetness to it.
The Kapitan King Prawn was a mistake from the kitchen, as we ordered fish for this dish. The coconut milk in the curry is bit overpowering and drowning the lightly battered deep-fried king prawns into soggy sea monsters.
I was hoping that at least I can taste the flavor from my hometown of this simple Chilli Kang Kung dish. How wrong I am. I can hardly taste any belachan in this dish - in fact, I don't think there is any in it at all. The dish taste awfully sweet from the Kicap Manis. At a price tag of 18.00, and totally ruined the dish, I am not impressed at all.
It is not all bad, my favorite dish among them all is the Beef Rendang. The beef is stewed for hours in thick creamy curry sauce, it is tender and simply tears apart with the whisk of my fork.
When we asked for dessert menu, then isn't one but she explains there are cheesecake, ice cream and petite four. We were expecting desserts that perhaps a bit more Malaysian? Like Ice Kachang, Chendul, Kuih Muih?
We ask for the bill, it is a hefty one. Leave us no more cash in wallet for desserts at other places. We use the rest of our spare change, and get ourselves an ice cream from Gelatissimo.
The Malaya is rather overpriced, which I expecting a good dining experience. Unfortunately I didn't.
The Malaya 29 Lime Street,
King St. Wharf, NSW 2000
P: 02 9279 1170
Lunch: 12-3pm Monday to Saturday
Dinner: 6-9pm Sunday to Monday, 6-10pm Tuesday to Saturday