Since my trip to Malaysia last year I have been preoccupied with Malaysian food. Luckily Mr Black loves it too and is more than happy to accompany me to Malaysian restaurants all over Sydney.
I discovered Malacca Straits on my own one day and ever since I’ve been keen to share it with Mr Black, various foodie friends, and of course readers of this blog. So this week I booked a table us and four lovely friends to go and share the spicy goodness. It was lucky we booked – I’m obviously not the only person who has discovered this hidden gem, as every table was occupied or reserved by 7pm!
I was put I charge of ordering for everyone, which is always fine by me. We started with three entrees: otak otak (spiced fish mince steamed in banana leaves), chicken satay and roti murtabak, a.k.a. “rusty motorbike”. I don’t know if it was some very clever management on behalf of the restaurant or just good fortune, but the most delicately flavoured entree (otak otak) came out first, and the most intensely spiced (roti murtabak) last.
The otak otak were delicious, moist and spongy.
The chicken satay weren’t quite as smoky as I would like, and the sauce not as spicy, but nevertheless they were perfectly cooked and well seasoned. (The satay at Mamak wins hands down!)
My friends hadn’t tried roti murtabak before and I’m happy to say Malacca Straits’ version was a wonderful introduction for them. The roti was sweet and chewy, the inside packed with flavoursome, spicy, crumbly mince. Everyone raved about it!
Overall our entrees were sensational, with a variety of contrasting of textures and flavours. We were really looking forward to our mains and weren’t disappointed with the first arrival – the beef rendang. It wouldn’t say it was as spectacular as the rendang at Enak in KL or Old Town Kopitiam, but the beef was falling apart , melt in your mouth tender and the sauce rich and fragrant.
Last time I tried the assam udang, or prawns in sour tamarind sauce, which I loved. On this occasion I went for the sambal uduang – which I learnt to make in KL at LaZat - which was delicious but not as saucy or as hot as the others I’ve tried (or made). It was very generous with the prawns though and had some seriously delicious eggplant and okra in there too.
For something different I had ordered “Malaysian style salt and pepper prawns”. (I am addicted to salt and pepper anything.) The prawns were juicy and succulent and the batter crisp and salty. I’m not sure how the Malaysian version differs from others I’ve tried except that it was much more salty than many Viet ones – in a good way, as it really intensified all the flavours.
The last dish was the delicate, homemade silken tofu with chicken mince. It looks pretty ordinary – but bite into the tofu pillows and you’ll be transported by the most delicate, quivering, almost custard-like texture inside. Heavenly. Even Mr Black and the other boys got in on the tofu action.
As sides we had my all time favourite, kangkong belachan, a couple of roti and plain rice. I grabbed this opportunity to introduce Mr Black and Missy Moo to the deliciousness of kangkong belachan as I knew they’d love it, especially because Malacca Strait’s version is sublime. The roti was good, but it was the leftover sauces from the kangkong which was the real star.
We took a little pause after this feast to rehydrate with several bottles of chilled water, enjoy the quirky artworks adorning the walls and ponder the dessert menu. Chef Tan (formerly The Malaya and Neptune Palace) came over to ask how the food was and share a laugh with us. Love that!
We chose three desserts to share between us. Kuih ketayap was a must: pandan crepe filled with coconut and palm sugar, served with ice-cream.
One of my friends asked me what bo bo cha cha was, so I suggested we get some to try. This was another dish I learnt to make at LaZat in KL (where they called it bur bur cha cha) but the version at Malacca Straits was served hot, much more soupy and less coconutty. I must admit, it wasn’t a huge hit! I thought it was ok but not really a good dessert choice for a hot, humid night.
At $141 for six people, with all that amazing food, Malacca Straits is nothing short of a bargain. My only hesitation is recommending it to others is the very real fear that it may just get too busy, as the staff (who are very friendly and helpful, especially the front of house man) are already rushed off their feet!