Tuesday, 26 June 2012

May's Laksa House, North Sydney & afternoon snack from Zoe Cafe, North Sydney (26th June 2012)

"Gee, is it 12pm already??" I thought to myself. Where has the time gone this past few weeks? Work has been insanely busy and there have been days that I've skipped the lunchtime gym workout because I couldn't afford to be away from my desk for too long. Today was one of those days so I headed over to May's Laksa House on the upper level food court of Berry Square for a quick meal.

I had just missed the incoming lunch crowd so it was only a short queue to the counter. I decided to try out their Nasi Lemak (cost $9.50) this time - they have done quite well in their Char Kuey Tiaw and Hainanese Chicken Rice; I would expect the Nasi Lemak to be pretty good too. Dance and 90s music blast from the shop's speakers as usual - I sometimes wondered if the young staff would take a pause serving customers and break into dance. Wouldn't that be funny?

The dining area was quite packed with lunchtime customers enjoying their Malaysian dishes. I found myself a table not too far away from the counter and waited for my number to be called out. "86! Nasi Lemak!" shouted the young lass. Oh, that's me! I collected my tray of food and headed back to my table. Wow, I wasn't expecting the dish to be this huge - in Malaysia, the dish is probably about half or a third of the size. Nasi lemak is considered a national dish in Malaysia and comes served with coconut rice,
 ikan bilis (anchovies), toasted salted peanuts, half a hard-boiled egg, rendang (meat in dry curry), cucumber slices or acar (pickled vegetables), and sambal (chilli-based condiment). The version that May's Laksa House serves is slightly different - it had the coconut rice with dried shallots sprinkled on the top, ikan bilis, peanuts, hard-boiled egg and cucumber, and was served with beef rendang (though I found this to be quite watery and more like curry) and also a slice of fresh tomato. Sadly, no sambal came with my dish and there weren't other chilli-based condiments  from their self-serve condiments table that were suitable. Highly disappointing as the sambal is a core ingredient in this well-known Malaysian dish. More interestingly, the Nasi Lemak comes with a complimentary clear soup which usually goes with the Hainanese Chicken Rice - how peculiar...

I would say that the Nasi Lemak was okay but not their best. Though the beef rendang was cooked till tender that the meat literally breaks apart with a soft prod of the fork, it didn't taste quite right (too much ginger??) and was too big a meal - I felt rather greased out just part-way through my lunch. Hmm, I wondered if there are any Malaysian restaurants in Sydney selling nasi lemak that serves the dish with sambal sotong (cuttlefish in chilli) - a favourite of mine and I much prefer it to the rendang. 

Nasi Lemak ($9.50)

May's Laksa House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

With the cold winter weather looming and feeling overly stressed out from work and wedding planning, I've been craving naughty foods, more specifically banana bread. I've the odd craving for savoury items but rarely crave sweet stuff - I must be super stressed!

Personally, I've not been to many of the cafes around the North Sydney area but do have one in mind for yummy banana bread - Zoe Cafe on Miller St. I stumbled into this cafe one early morning before work and had their toasted banana bread with butter. A thick warm piece of the bread lightly toasted on both sides and saturated with melted butter - so bad (sugar and fat loaded) but absolutely delicious. Just the type of comfort food my body is craving! Cost me $6.50 for a takeaway regular flat white and toasted banana bread which I'm going to indulge at my desk. Photo of my afternoon snack:

Takeaway flat white and toasted banana bread with butter ($6.50)

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Jimmy's Recipe, Sydney (10th June 2012)

I decided to grab an early lunch before heading to Event Cinemas on George St for another Sydney Film Festival movie so went to check out Jimmy's Recipe located on the ground level of The Galeries. Anna had previously mentioned that this place served really good laksa - sounds like a place to put my Malaysian palate to good use!

I arrived around 11am and there were already a few early customers in sight. There was no queue so I strolled up to the counter and ordered myself a Seafood Laksa (cost $9). "Actually, give me one curry puff as well," I said, pointing at the golden curry puffs ($2 each) sitting in the smorgasbord. It has been ages since I last had a curry puff! A savoury pastry that Mum would sometimes buy for breakfast back when I was schooling in Malaysia - brings back lots of good memories of our breakfasts at home :) Wow, the service was really fast! I had only just paid for my meal and in less than two minutes, my meal was ready to be collected. Sweet!

There were plenty of tables available and I chose to sit at a table on their mezzanine level (the diner is split level). Mmm, a nice warm bowl of laksa - just what my tummy needs to warm up on such a cold, wet day :) My seafood laksa was a generous serving of mostly rice vermicelli and a few strands of egg noodles (I prefer half-and-half) in a coconut curry broth - beansprouts, fishballs, fishcakes, surimi, tofu puffs, several tiny mussels and a single shelled prawn (very stingy) made up the rest of the ingredients of this dish. The broth had the right consistency, not too thick nor too watery however lacked spiciness, perhaps to cater more for the local taste. In Malaysia, a dollop of laksa spice or sambal is often provided with the dish though I wasn't offered on order (didn't see a condiments section either). But despite some of its shortcomings, I must say I did enjoy my laksa - it was definitely too much for me and I still needed room for my curry puff! 

The curry puff, much like the laksa lacked spiciness even though it had a tasty curried vegetable filling. The outer casing was made of flake pastry and the whole puff deep-fried, giving it the golden-brown colour and crunchy texture. I don't even want to think how long I have to workout in the gym to work off the many calories in this...The diner is definitely known to the Malaysian community in Sydney, several customers could be heard speaking in Manglish (mangled English with sentences made from a combination of vocabulary from the various languages and dialects spoken in Malaysia), an indication to me that the Malaysian food here is pretty good. I see that they also serve Assam Laksa and Ipoh Hor Fun - well worth a second visit to try these dishes out.

Jimmy's Recipe located on the ground floor of The Galeries

Seafood laksa ($9)

Curry puff ($2)

 A flake pastry fried shell stuffed with curried potatoes,
 onions, carrots and peas

Jimmy's Recipe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 4 June 2012

Malay-Chinese Takeaway, Sydney (4th June 2012)

I had an appointment in town and ended up having a late lunch around 2.15pm. Fortunately for me, Malay-Chinese Takeaway located on Hunter St was still open for lunch - there were several other latecomers like me in the shop having a meal when I arrived. Ah, my long awaited visit to this Malaysian restaurant...I've been on a hunt for the a good Hainanese Chicken Rice and my Google search revealed that this place serves quite a good one. Well, I guess that's what I'll be ordering then! I paid the $8.70 for the dish and proceeded to find myself a table in the large dining area which reminded me much of a school canteen. Rather empty as it is now, my guess is that it gets very busy during the peak lunch period (not surprised that they can fit up to 50 people at a time).

"Chicken rice!" shouted the lady behind the counter. Oh, that's me! I headed over to collect my tray of food - a plate of chicken rice with nearly boneless chicken thigh chopped into bite-size pieces 
drenched in soy sauce sitting on a bed of sliced cucumber and garnished with shredded ginger and spring onion. A complimentary bowl of watercress soup came with the dish. The chilli sauce can be obtained from the condiments area at the collection counter but beware - there are several red-coloured sauces and you want to get the correct one that goes with this dish. Hmm, they don't have any disposable sauce containers left...oh well, I guess I would have to just scoop some of the chilli onto my plate...

The verdict? Well, I've had better Hainanese Chicken Rice elsewhere in Sydney. The service was prompt and food cheap, and the chicken moist and tender but the drenched sauce was too salty and most of my rice had absorbed it. The rice hardly had a hint of chicken stock and strangely tasted like coconut rice (or perhaps it was just the saltiness). What really didn't do it for me was the chilli sauce - it is so hard to get this condiment right and it is what makes or breaks the essence of this Malaysian dish. Back to the drawing board to find me another Hainanese Chicken Rice location :/ Reading several food blogs written by the Sydney food blogger community of Malay-Chinese Takeaway suggests that this place serves the best laksa in town. I'll have to return to try their laksa - perhaps they do a lot better in this other well-known Malaysian dish. Photos taken on my mobile at the restaurant:

Hainanese Chicken Rice ($8.70)

Malay-Chinese Takeaway on Hunter St

Malay Chinese Takeaway Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato