Adult Mandarin Class Level 2 (Beginners 2) & Petaling Street, Haymarket (6th February 2012)

After a chilled out 2.5 weeks away from Sydney, it's time for me to return to work and get back  to the routines of life. No rest for the wicked, I pretty much delved into work on day one, dealing with the day-to-day issues and fixing new defects as they pop up for my project. It didn't feel like I've been away as long as I have - work was pretty much the same state where I left it. Oh but the gym! The 'post-holiday' workout my personal trainer Alison had me on was an absolute killer and my quad and hamstring muscles were in agony each step I took after my workout. Urgh...A good wake-up call for the body though - time to get back in shape! Fortunately all the holiday eating and drinking did not result in piling on a few extra kilos (phew!) so it's just getting my body used to the new workout.

Speaking of getting back to the swing of things, Australasian Centre of Chinese Studies (ACCS) had started their new term last week and both Jono and I have enrolled ourselves in the Adult Mandarin Class Level 2 (Beginners 2) - this is the next level after the class we did last term. I haven't seen anyone from our last class in Level 2 though - I wondered if they decided Mandarin was too hard and given up. Mandarin is said to be one of the 5 most difficult languages to attain proficiency in speaking and reading for the native English speaker and even I find it difficult despite already knowing some Mandarin. The way ACCS conducts the lessons makes learning Mandarin fun and interesting - I'm definitely learning and retaining a lot more characters in class this time round (I've done Mandarin classes when younger but could never remember characters without its corresponding pinyin). I'm glad Jono's still keen to learn the language and with both of us attending the same class, we get to learn and help each other out, making it a fun shared experience in itself :) Cost $325 for the 10-week class and we were very fortunate to have Christine as our teacher again - she's really lovely and humourous, and often incorporates simple games into our lessons. This week she got us to sing the Chinese version of the children's song "The More We Get Together", with me leading the singing as she caught me humming the tune to Jono when she was writing the lyrics in pinyin on the whiteboard. Eek, so embarrassing having to sing for the class but Jono so kindly joined in and we sung it together.

Our Mandarin class is normally on Saturdays but as we've made plans for the weekend, Jono and I swapped this week's class to the Monday session (there are 3 classes held each week teaching the same lesson and students can swap or attend additional classes if required). Class ended around 8pm and Jono suggested we head to 
Petaling Street for dinner, a Malaysian hawker food restaurant located on George St in Haymarket. The name Petaling Street takes reference to the Petaling Street in Malaysia which coincidentally is also located in Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur - a tourist spot, this street is notoriously known for cheap imitation branded clothing and accessories, pirated DVDs and CDs stalls as well as home to many restaurants and food stalls. With 5 branches in Melbourne, this chain restaurant recently opened their first branch in Sydney and in a mere few weeks have already attracted quite a clientele. 

Entering the restaurant, we were greeted by one of the waitstaff who showed us to our table. The kitchen was in full view as we walked down the narrow walkway to the dining area - cooks busy at their wok stations cooking up a storm, roast chicken hanging on display, and several other kitchenhands chopping and peeling vegetables. The dining area was split in two floors (more seating downstairs below street level) and the tables were placed quite close to one another, making it feel rather congested like a typical hawker place in Malaysia. Waitstaff roamed around the narrow walkways serving customers, donned in uniform T-shirt and black pants, some wearing headsets with mics which are used to communicate with staff on the lower floor. Their menu was quite extensive with at least 50 items to choose from. I went for their Malaysian Preserved (Salted) Radish Steamed Fish (Whole Fish) from the specials board - not everyday would a Malaysian restaurant offer whole steamed fish on their menu so I'm taking the opportunity to order it. And at $14.80 for the meal (which was cheaper than I expected), it was a match made in heaven :)  Jono ordered the Chicken Curry Laksa, and we had an Iced Grass Jelly and Honey Lemon (Hot) drink respectively.

Chicken Curry Laksa ($10.80) and 
Malaysian Preserved Radish Steamed Whole Fish ($14.80)

Dining area (on the street level) with narrow walkways

My steamed fish appeared in less than 10 minutes after we ordered which was a surprise - normally it would take about 20 minutes to prepare the dish and Jono reckons the fish was pre-cooked and just zapped in the microwave on order. Hmm, if that was the case, I would expect the fish to taste a lot drier but it was still tender and moist. The fish was covered generously with fried garlic and preserved radish (don't think I'll be getting any more kisses from Jono tonight with my now garlic breathe :P), drenched in soy sauce and garnished with fresh parsley. Personally, I felt the meal was too much for one (and Jono couldn't help me with the fish when his own dinner was massive too) so I ended up eating most of the fish and only a few spoonfuls of rice - it was good and authentic but I really can't finish it all...Jono enjoyed his meal too, finishing most his laksa. Cost us $32 all up (the restaurant takes cash only) which was about right for such huge servings and a whole steamed fish. I'm keen to come back to try their other dishes - I've got my eye on the Hainanese chicken rice and those dishes made with marmite. I know what you're thinking: Marmite on pork ribs is just weird. But hey, it may turn out pretty awesome. Still to be sampled!

Petaling Street: Malaysian Hawker Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 


  1. Dear Angelica,

    I read a few reviews about this place but have yet to visit. A good marmite chicken can taste awesome. Quite a few Malaysian restaurants have sprung up in Sydney recently though.

  2. Mandarin speakers are used to writing one out of thousands of characters to represent the word they want to express. The alphabet in English is composed of 26 letters and must be combined in countless variations to spell words. Learning the English alphabet is the first step to learning the language. Thanks.


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