When there are foodbloggers argue which restaurants has the best roti, rendang and CKT, you know Sydney has been taken over by Malaysian restaurants. It is like measles, they just pop up everywhere! This sudden trend only remind me of an old Malay proverbs, "hangat-hangat tahi ayam", and without too literally translate it, I worry this trend can be just a short flash in the pan and will not last.
Sydney now even has its own Petaling Street, the fourth franchise of a Malaysian restaurant chain from Melbourne has set its foot on George Street near Haymarket. It is located at the non-busy side of Haymarket, I even find it all too ironic to be located right next to an adult shop to reflect the seedy side of Petaling Street in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I follow the Hinds and their friend from South Africa who is here visiting into this pokey one-narrow-lane restaurant, we squeeze our way to the back and seated at the last empty table.
The A3 laminated menu is impressively extensive, from hawker food to a proper Chinese meal which can be a dilemma when comes to decision making as we struggle whether we should stick to individual hawker food or have bigger dishes to share over a bowl of steamed rice.
The roast chicken with rice set is a generous side for one. A pile of roast chicken with a glossy sheen of caramelised skin is not so crispy after after having soy dressing being poured all over. The duo dipping sauces of chilli and garlic ginger are simply not enough to accompany the whole plate of chicken, we scrape to the last drop of the sauce while there is still half of the chicken meat left on the plate. Nevertheless, the chicken is tender and succulent, but the biggest let down is the rice, it is a dome of undercooked gluggy mess.
To drink, the Hinds go for the whimsical Ribena Sprite, well it is a fizzy mix of Ribena cordial and Sprite. My 'cham ice' comes in a metal tankard, a tea-and-coffee mix with condensed milk is an old school favourite of mine, but the cham here is not as thick as I'd hoped for.
I have lay my eyes on the Marmite pork spare ribs since I picked up the menu. This dish is an early invention derived from Malaysia and Singapore back in 90s, deep fried pork ribs are smothered in sticky sweet and salty Marmite sauce. You either love it or hate it, just like Vegemite, but for me is a winner.
As soon as this dish arrives at the table, I flinch. "This is not a KL Hokkien Mee." Despite of lacking its authenticity, this dried-saucing egg noodle dish is a pleasant staple at the table with plenty fish cakes, prawns and squid curls swimming in the sauce.
The roti canai is little bit disappointing here. Store bought or not, I will never know, but it will be very hard to beat the other Malaysian restaurants in town where rotis are being tossed up high in the air and fried right in front of you. The roti arrives at table neither flaky nor fluffy, chopped up into bite sizes which defeats the pleasure of tearing it apart and douse them in the curry sauce with both hands. The beef curry that comes with the roti is a saviour nonetheless, tender hunks of beef briskets in a spicy hot curry sauce. We loved the beef curry, the roti not so much.
As we about to pay our bill, a plate of Char Kueh Teow arrives at the table next to us and it looks promising and wish we've made the right decision.
Petaling Street Malaysian hawker food restaurant 760 George St
Sydney NSW 2000
P: (02) 9280 1006
Opening Hours: Open 7 days, 11am till late
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