Since its opening earlier this year, Cafe Rumah has created a buzz in the Sydney food scene, attracting food enthusiasts and bloggers alike to its location on Campbell Street in Surry Hills. Though the name Rumah (meaning ‘home’ in Malay) suggests traditional Malaysian fare, Cafe Rumah is actually a Western-style cafe serving food with an Asian twist. The boys and I recently went to check out this new lunch spot on a Saturday afternoon arriving just a little past 1pm and sure enough, the cafe proved popular with groups of keen customers lingering at the entrance waiting to get in.
Cafe Rumah on Campbell Street, Surry Hills
We spent the 15-minute wait time standing on the footpath digesting the menu while seeking shelter from the sweltering sun and was shortly seated at one end of the communal table with a group of Malaysians/Singaporeans. The venue is small with a mix of table and window seating and just enough room for us to cosily fit in Xavier’s pram. The decor of white walls and pale tiles on timber give the cafe a light and minimalistic feel with little bottles of baby’s breath adding a soft, fresh touch. Up the flight of stairs to the second floor lies 15sheets, a premium men’s boutique store that stocks an array of American and British labels including Descendent of Thieves and Weekend Offender. This retail store has been brought in from its flagship store in Malaysia by the folks at Cafe Rumah in keeping up with the growing retail-cum-dining trend to enhance the customer buying experience - you can browse the store and pick up a couple of items, ponder your purchases over a cup of coffee and cake downstairs and head back up to shop some more.
|Front of house|
The menu at Cafe Rumah has been kept to a manageable size with a handful of breakfast items and a selection of sandwiches and salads for lunch. Service was friendly and fairly fast from order to serve which was much welcomed as my tummy was beginning to groan in hunger.
|Cafe Rumah menu|
The Asian Cuban was a definite crowd pleaser - the ham and roast pork which you would normally find in a Cuban sandwich have been cleverly replaced with its Asian equivalent of luncheon meat and five-spice roast pork wedged in bread coated with mustard spread, sliced pickles and Swiss cheese. Beautifully toasted till the bread surface is crispy golden and cheese melted, this sandwich is packed full of porky flavour with each bite. Greasy, yes, but that was what I expected of a Cuban sandwich. Cut through the grease and wash it down with a refreshing cold pressed juice or soda - we sampled the Energy Blast (orange, carrot, lemon and ginger) and 15sheets Special (yuzu and mint soda) which were both delicious and thirst-quenching. Loving the tangy yuzu flavour in the soda!The Kopitiam Brekkie is my clear favourite, bringing back many fond memories of this breakfast meal my paternal grandparents would serve at home when I was little. You have the option to go for the basic house made kaya and butter toast, or have it true Malaysian-style with two free-range onsen eggs for an extra $4. Add a dash of soy sauce and ground white pepper, mix it up and slurp. Ah, bliss :)
|Asian Cuban ($14)|
Mummy, can I have some?
Energy Blast ($8) and 15sheets Special ($6)
|The Kopitiam Brekkie ($7) + 2 Onsen Eggs ($4)|
Add a dash of soy sauce and ground white pepper, give it a quick mix and it's ready to eat!
Traditionally, the kaya toast and egg combo is served with a strong cup of local coffee or tea that is sweetened with condensed milk though you won't find such beverages on the menu; instead, order a barista-style coffee made with beans from Cabrito Coffee Traders or a pot of T Totaler teas. The quality of the coffee was variable depending on which staff made it - the first flat white we ordered at the start of lunch was good however the second cup was over-extracted, tasting horribly bitter.
Flat White ($4)
For those who prefer a lighter lunch, opt for the salad - there are four to choose from each uniquely different with its own Asian influences, and you can mix and match your salad depending on the number of scoops chosen (1/2/3 scoop at $6/$11/$15 respectively). Our 2-scoop salad was made up of the Spiced Pumpkin (cooked pumpkin with sultanas and pepitas mixed with sage, garam masala and curry leaf drenched in honey vinaigrette) and Chinese Chicken (shredded cabbage and chicken tossed with sliced apple, onion and shallot topped with plum dressing and coriander garnish). Both salads were fresh and light tasting.
Cafe Rumah also offers several ‘kuih’ (Malaysian sweet and savoury cakes and pastries) that varies day to day. Quantities are limited so get in early if you're keen to sample some. The Pandan Chiffon Cake with its light and fluffy texture was most popular with almost every table in sight ordering a slice. The Steamed Tapioca Kuih comes in three pieces - these little yellow delights are rolled in grated coconut and chewy to the bite with just the right level of sweetness.
Cost $68 all up for our food and drinks which was reasonable for Sydney’s cafe standard. Overall, the service at Cafe Rumah is good and food decent though whether it can maintain its current popularity and survive the competition from the plethora of cafes already established in the area remains to be seen. I’m keen to come back and try out their take of the Malaysian snack Roti John (omelette sandwich with mince meat and onion) and those delicious sounding baked-to-order Madeleines filled with kaya!