malaysian

Omah’s: Crab, crab, crab

When we want crab, we’re serious. Recently, I was in a group of 10 that went to Omah’s Restaurant in Port Melbourne on a very cold evening with one aim: eat crab until we could eat no more.

Omah’s has been in Port Melbourne for several years, selling Malaysian cuisine (they recently opened a branch in Hawthorn). The restaurant’s decor is inspired by 1950′s Malaysian tea houses, with dark furniture on the floor and wooden birdcages hanging from the ceiling. During the day it would be bright and airy as there are floor to ceiling windows looking out to Rouse Street, however in the evening the lighting was turned way down low – always a food blogger’s nightmare.
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Gurney Drive (closed)

One evening on our way home from the CBD, Alastair, Bro and I stopped at Gurney Drive for a quick meal. The restaurant, presumably named after Gurney Drive in Penang, Malaysia, sells Penang Malaysian hawker food. It’s decked out with bright walls, framed pictures, and heavy wooden tables and chairs – oh, and lots of photos of the food stuck on the front window!
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Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam

How many Malaysian style restaurants can Flemington support? Judging by Laksa King, Chef Lagenda and newcomer on the block – Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam – at least three seems to be a reasonable answer! Though Penny says that Chillipadi does Tamil Muslim style Malaysian food, so it is a little different from the other two restaurants at least.

Alastair and I have eaten at Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam several times now, the first time being a couple of days after opening, when there were still some minor issues to be ironed out, and a lack of a liquor licence (which was finally granted last week).
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Laksa Me

Another hot Friday night lead us wandering the streets of Melbourne in search of Laksa Me. I had a vague idea of where I was going, but unfortunately it was a bit too vague. We overshot the laneway that Laska Me resides in, which meant wandering around in the heat for longer than necessary. Damned Melbourne and its laneways!

After a bit of backtracking, we found Liverpool Street and the restaurant. I was a tad disappointed to find that there was no air conditioning in the small room. Instead, several fans whirred busily away to keep diners cool, which admittedly did an okay job. Our table was directly outside the kitchen, under the gaze of a maneki neko and giving us glimpses of the chefs through a cut out in the wall.

Service seemed a bit confused, but quite sweet. We ordered beer and water, and only the beer showed up. Rather than laksa, we opted for starters and shared mains. We started with three items, ordering two portions of each and sharing them.

Betel leaf

Sliver of Beef Wrapped in Wild Betel Leaves ($3.50 each)

This starter was a sliver of beef, pan fried with peppercorn infused olive oil, and then dressed with coriander and roasted coconut vinaigrette, wrapped in a betel leaf. We found the beef slightly chewy but it was okay. I was quite amused by the flower garnish, which was actually made from a chili.

Triangle

Vegetarian Triangle ($2.50 each)

he triangles were filled with wok tossed shredded daikon, crunchy yam bean and Asian chives, then folded in a Chinese white pastry. These were then pan fried and then drizzled with a dark sweet soy sauce.

Thai sausage

Succulent Grilled Thai Sausage ($3.50 each)

The thai sausage was minced pork mixed with rice wrapped in a cornhusk, then grilled and served with diced cucumber and crushed peanuts in a tangy Chinese salted plum sauce. The sausage was the best of the three starters – heavy with garlic and flavour. We found the starters slightly underwhelming but this was most likely due to us sharing and only having a small bit of each.

Nonya pork ribs

Nonya Pork Ribs – stewed Asian style pork ribs in a complex sweet, spicy and sour reduction. Served with Jasmine rice. ($22.00)

We perked up when the mains started arriving. The first to come out was the pork ribs. The tender meat swam in a dark, sweet caramelish sauce with a small hint of spiciness. The pork was delicious, but the sauce… I would’ve been happy to push the meat aside and just eat the sauce over a steaming bowl of hot rice.

Khao Soi Gai

Khao Soi Gai – Burmese influenced Northern Thai curry noodles ($9.00)

The next two mains arrived almost at the same time. The khao soi gai was a dish of thin, slightly crisp egg noodles topped with chicken in a rich, creamy, red curry gravy. The sauce was fairly spicy and had strong Thai flavours and fish sauce.

Dry chicken curry noodles

Dry chicken curry noodles – a hot and spicy dry creamy chicken curry on Hokkien noodles ($10.00)

We all loved the dry chicken curry noodles. A Malaysian style curry sauce smothered the thick egg noodles and boneless chicken. It was the spiciest dish on the table, and we couldn’t get enough. Another round of beer was necessary after this came out.

Sonny’s fish curry

Sonny’s fish curry – fish of the day slow poached with green bean, eggplants and okra in Sonny’s secret curry recipe. Served with Indian pickle, yoghurt and Jasmine rice. ($22.00)

The last main was Sonny’s fish curry. The fish curry was a large slab of salmon was smothered in a tangy, sourish curry that was flavoured with Indian spices and topped with yoghurt. In the context of the meal, this dish felt a bit strange. All the flavours of the other mains felt complementary, and this dish just didn’t seem to fit with everything else that we had eaten. This isn’t an actual complaint about the dish – the fish and vegetables were cooked well and the sauce was tasty.

After our hearty and sweat inducing meal we peeled ourselves off our chairs to pay our bill at the counter. The monetary damage was a reasonable $33 per person, (if sticking to laksa the bill could be much lower). We had an enjoyable meal and one day I will need to return to check out the laksa.

Laksa Me
Shop 1 / 16 Liverpool Street
Melbourne 3000
Phone: (03) 9639 9885

Baba House (closed) : Hainanese chicken rice and more

My parents used to work a lot – they would regularly work 12+ hour days. The exception to these long days was Sunday, when the shop didn’t open until 3-4pm (depending on how my dad felt). On Sundays we usually went out as a family for lunch.

It was during these Sunday lunches that my Bro and I were introduced to Hainanese chicken rice – white chicken served with rice that has been cooked in chicken stock. We always had it from a stall at Wakefield Market foodcourt (in Wellington). The rice from this small stall was heavily impregnated with the flavour of chicken – it was very oily and fatty. Eaten with the silky cold chicken, it was a real treat, but fortunately for our arteries we only ate it occasionally!

Hainanese Chicken rice

This version from Baba House ($8.50) was not as oily or fatty as the dish I remember from Wakefield Market but still tasty. The only downside was the MSG thirst that persisted for several hours!

Baba House is our “outside kitchen” – that is, when I can’t be bothered cooking, Alastair heads there to pick up dinner.

Char Kway Teow

I’m always on the look out for a good char/fried kway teow as it’s on my (rather long) list of favourite things to eat. Baba House do an acceptable version ($9.20) with well seasoned wok fried flat rice noodles, prawns, fish cake, dried mussels, calamari, egg, crunchy bean sprouts and a hint of chilli. Personally, I like more chilli and would love that hint of chilli to be upped, but that’s a personal preference.

I should also say that the last time I had this from Baba House it gave me an MSG thirst like the chicken rice did. It seems that only recently there has been an excess MSG problem. I’ll have to remember to ask for no MSG for future visits.

(By the way: If you know of a place that does an outstanding char kway teow, please let me know!)

Nasi lemak

I have saved my favourite Baba House dish (and unfortunately, the worst photo) for last. Although it looks a bit like poop in a bowl in my photo, I can assure you that the Nasi Lemak ($9.20) is good! There’s so much to love about nasi lemak. Coconut rice. Tick. Dried anchovies. Tick. Sweet/sour crunchy pickles. Tick. Spicy, tender beef rendang (there’s also chicken or lamb if you prefer). Tick. Crunchy peanuts. Tick. Hard boiled eggs. Tick. Fortunately, there was no MSG thirst when I ate this one. :p

Alastair has the laksa 90% of the time ($9.20). The soup is fragrant, spicy and creamy and it’s chocka with noodles, chicken, fishcake, beans, eggplant and fried tofu. He loves his laksa and says that it’s better than Laksa King.

Baba House – so much food to love. What a great outside kitchen to have!

Baba House
34 Errol St, North Melbourne
Phone: 9329 1762