OldTown White Coffee opened its first restaurant in Melbourne earlier this year. Old Town already has a presence in Australia through its 3 in 1 White Coffee sold in quite a number of Asian grocers across Victoria. Originally from Ipoh, Malaysia, it has spread across Malaysia and into parts of Asia as well. It’s similar to PappaRich with its prominent drinks menu and wide variety of Malaysian dishes to choose from.
Oldtown’s Nasi Lemak comes with a number of sides, such as fried chicken, satay skewers and seafood sticks and of course sambal. The sambal is quite fragrant, although is sweeter than I would like. I still would say PappaRich’s sambal trumps it but it’s not far off. I found the satay to be warm, and not hot, which indicated to me that they pre-cook it. I suppose that’s to be expected as to speed up the order to serving time. The fried chicken, however, appears to be cooked to order. The coconut rice leaned towards the mushier side of things, and the fried seafood sticks were interesting things but I wasn’t a big fan of it. Overall, it’s a nice dish with many accompaniments which is a plus!
Their Balacan Seafood Fried Rice is delicious. It has that lovely fragrance of spices and it was spicier than expected.
I simply adored the Roti Canai, it’s fluffy and crisp. It’s my favourite Roti Canai in Melbourne. Every other Malaysian restaurant does it the typical square shape and although it’s crispy when cooked on the stove, it lacks this lightness to it that Oldtown’s has. It’s served vegetarian with a Curry, the typical Dahl curry (without the Dahl) and sambal. Mamak’s curry probably beats it in terms of flavour but its all pretty similar in my books. I’d go back just for this Roti though, it’s that good.
Their Ice Kacang looks exceptional but leaves a lot to be desired in terms of taste. It’s overly icy, the shaved ice is too rough for my liking. It lacks the red syrup (usually like a rose syrup), but does have the brown sugar or palm sugar syrup. The cendol jelly is a nice bonus but once you get the syrup, condensed milk mixture wrong, it really lets everything else down.
Oldtown’s Ice Teh Tarik has a wonderful strong tea taste, though just a tad too sweet for me. One of the better ones in Melbourne.
The reviews for Oldtown make you really question whether you would want to try it out. Maybe, I dined on a good day when service was pretty fast, although not particularly friendly but that’s pretty much expected at most Malaysian/Asian restaurants. Taste-wise it’s definitely above average and I can’t really understand the poor reviews it has received apart from the pricing which is a $1 to $2 more than most Malaysian restaurants. I’d go back.
303 Elizabeth Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Madam Kwan’s recently opened its doors in Box Hill, replacing Straits of Malacca which seemed to vanish as soon as it opened. Also, not to be confused by Madam Kwong’s and Kwan’s Dim Sum on Whitehorse Road. It retains the same name as a franchise in Malaysia. Variety-wise, it’s quite similar to PappaRich with a mix of noodle and rice dishes, drinks and desserts (Durian too) although where it falls short is the number of menu options, like Nasi Kandar, Roti Canai but seem to mark its place with a few of their specialties such as Madam Kwan’s Noodle Soup.
Madam Kwan’s Mee Goreng, is probably one of the better ones I’ve tried although it lacks that slight sweet and sourness from the tomato sauce that is frequently used in Mee Goreng. Apart from that, I found it quite filling (portions are generous).
The Chicken Curry Laksa isn’t like what you’d find in Chef Lagenda or Laksa King where it has this rich, creaminess to the Laksa. Instead, it opts for the fragrance of the spices used to add depth to the soup base. Again, it’s a generous offering with both egg and rice vermicelli noodles.
Madam Kwan’s Lobak is one of my favourites I’ve tried in Melbourne and can actually best some of the ones I’ve tried in Malaysia. It has this wonderful balance of pork and the seasoning. Plus, it adds yam/taro that adds texture and fragrance that I didn’t even know I wanted in a Lobak, and yet it works so well together. Yum. Be warned though, their side dishes cost nearly as much as their mains.
I found their Teh Tarik on the other hand to be overly sweet from its excessive use of condensed milk. Tea flavour-wise it’s on the stronger side of things so the balance is a bit off in my books.
While I would say, Madam Kwan’s isn’t my favourite Malaysian eatery in Melbourne, it’s probably one of the tastier choices for Malaysian cuisine in the Box Hill and even Doncaster/Blackburn area.
3/1 Main Street (Box Hill Central)
Box Hill VIC 3128
Straits of Malacca opened last year in Box Hill, in a place I never knew could even house another restaurant. Situated on the far eastern side of Box Hill Central, close to Station St and with entrances from Main St and Station St, it’s easily accessible. Straits of Malacca in Glen Waverley, didn’t overly impress me on my initial visit but you can definitely find a pretty good meal there.
The Box Hill outlet may not match Glen Waverley in terms of tastiness but it does come close. Their Indian Mee Goreng has all the ingredients for a great Mee Goreng and has a subtle tomato flavour to it but doesn’t overwhelm the dish with the other spices and sauce.
Their Nasi Pataya isn’t quite as good as Petaling Street in terms of their fried rice incased in the egg, but they also do it differently with the addition of a salad with crispy fish and crispy spring rolls. The egg wrap is also very thing (just how I like it) with enough sweet chilli sauce to bring it all together.
Funnily enough, it was their Teh Ice that I enjoyed the most. It has the right amount of tea flavour but not overly sweet. How it should be!
Straits of Malacca sprinkles a bit more of Malaysia into the Box Hill food scene, and although it seems many aren’t too taken by it. I find it to be overall quite decent in flavour, not as great as the Glen Waverley outlet but definitely not bad as its made out to be on Urbanspoon. Would dine again.
O’Town in Glen Waverley replaced Hakka Tea House this year. O’Town specialises in Penang cuisine, many of my favourite Malaysian dishes have origins in Penang such as Char Kueh Teow, Har Mee and Mee Rebus but of course you can find many of these dishes elsewhere in Malaysia but it’s telling that there are eateries in Kuala Lumpur/Selangor that prides itself on Penang dishes.
O’Town’s decor is very reminiscent of the streets of Penang, with its British influence and Penang’s famous street art replicated on the walls.
O’Town’s Hakka Kon Loh is served with fishball soup and taste wise it was oddly familiar, like a drier Pan Mee because of the mushrooms and crunchy anchovies. It’s subtle in flavour as I did require some sliced chilli to go with it but I was happy with the flavours nonetheless. The soup is pretty much your typical Asian stock soup so nothing really out of the ordinary.
The Chicken Satay’s here aren’t grilled, instead its deep fried. So it has this crispiness to it, however it isn’t quite the same as the smokiness of a grilled satay stick. The peanut sauce is pleasant, with a wonderful nutty aroma I preferred it to the actual satay to be honest. That’s not to say it’s a bad satay dish, just different.
O’Town’s Nasi Lemak comes with a very tasty Chicken Curry. I loved the creaminess of it, yet not overpowering with the spices. A good balance of ingredients. The sambal is nothing really to run home about but definitely above average.
When ordering the Assam Laksa we were worried they would use sardines instead of other fish, luckily our worries were squashed as they use small fishes but definitely not sardines. Sardines give off a very strong fishy flavour which, more often than not, overpowers the Laksa flavours. Here the Assam Laksa has a lighter soup base taste but it’s one of the better Assam Laksa’s around.
The Ice Teh Tarik is not bad a bit light as I actually prefer a stronger “Teh” flavour. When talking to one of the staff, it appears that initially the Teh Tarik here did indeed have a stronger tea taste to it but people complained (what!). In any case, the staff mentioned you can request for a stronger Teh Tarik if that’s to your liking.
O’Town makes a mark in Glen Waverley, adding to the Malaysian restaurant scene and yet all have slightly different styles of Malaysian dishes due to their local origins (e.g Penang, Malacca, KL, Sarawak). The food here is on average pretty good, but nothing came across as amazing from the dishes we tried.
19 Railway Parade N
Glen Waverley VIC 3150
People that frequent Sydney may know of Mamak in Chinatown, and it’s popularity over there has seemingly lead to Mamak opening down in Melbourne late last year. Serving Malaysian food and leaning towards a more Indian/Malaysian style cuisine, they don’t offer a large selection of food but what they do focus on, they do it well.
Mamak’s popularity also extends to Melbourne, having walked passed there even before it opened I saw a few groups of people waiting until it was officially opened. I don’t know if it’s that honeymoon period most places have but I have a feeling it’s probably not just due to that.
We ordered their Curry Chicken Nasi Lemak, almost a staple of Malaysian cuisine, side note, even the Air Asia’s Nasi Lemak isn’t that bad, all things considered (
plain plane food) . This is their only rice dish unless you order the mains but they do also offer a few different sides with the Nasi Lemak such as curry chicken, sambal prawns or friend chicken at varying price points.
What was instantly pleasing was their sambal, it was spicy, sweet and basically just right. Their chicken wasn’t too bad either! It was cooked well, and the curry sauce didn’t have too many spices that some other restaurants seem to put. For the price though at $11.50 it definitely leans on the pricier side, Nasi Lemak tends to be under $10 due to it’s simple ingredients and easy to cook. I remember eating Nasi Lemak wrapped in banana leaves (smaller size) and with no meat in Malaysia for roughly $1 AUD. Bad comparison but now I feel like visiting Malaysian again.
We ordered a dozen Chicken and Beef satay for $16 and this again leans on the pricier side and the portions also seemed quite small but the sauce and flavour makes up for it. I really liked the satay sauce, it was spicy, and just sweet enough but I found it to be different to satay sauces I’ve had. It was nutty but didn’t seem to have that overwhelming peanut taste to it. If you ever venture towards Dandenong Market there is this fantastic satay shop near the Fish and Meat area, it has the best tasting satay sauce and chicken/beef satays at a reasonable price. You can buy them cooked, or uncooked (refrigerated or frozen). Really good.
I found the chicken satays to be the better of the two, having a more robust grilled flavour but still being able to taste the chicken. That’s not to say the beef wasn’t good either, but it certainly seemed a bit tougher in comparison.
I always jump at the chance to order Murtabak because it seems so rare around these parts, well, it’s certainly getting more popular so that’s a plus. I prefer the Lamb Murtabak due to the flavour of lamb oozing through the roti makes it usually a marvellous dish. What I liked about Mamak’s Murtabak is that they stuffed the roti full of cooked lamb, onions, cabbage and egg. The filling was cooked perfectly and I could have eaten it all day. The only downside of having a thicker filling is that the roti served was on the soft side. I like my Murtabak roti crispy and this was nowhere near that, sadly. Probably the best Murtabak I’ve eaten in Victoria is still Taste of Singapore.
The curry sauce provided was surprisingly good, it was spicy and just creamy enough. Only con was that it was served just warm, and after tucking into the Murtabak, it was basically cold! The spicy sambal as commented on above complemented the roti well, I only wish there was more.
The other curry accompaniment which I can never remember the name of, but is always served with Roti, is as what you’d find in any other Malaysian restaurant. I don’t tend to have too much of it, but a small amount of this is always nice to have with freshly made roti or Murtabak. The only other downside is that you have to wait 15 or so minutes. I guess it’s great that it’s made to order though.
You can’t go to a Malaysian restaurant without trying their Teh Tarik. I though Mamak’s Teh Tarik was on the sweet side but not probably not bad enough to think of your poor teeth straight away. I would also liked if it had more “tea” taste to it but other than that, I wouldn’t mind ordering it again. It was only $3.50 so it didn’t seem so scandalous. I remember ordering a Teh Tarik at the now closed Malaysian restaurant in QV (Before PappaRich) and that was served in this puny tea cup for two or so sips.
What I like about Mamak is they focus on Roti and Satays, some of my favourite kinds of food. It is a bit disappointing their menu doesn’t have that much variety but I guess in terms of mamak style food, this is what they usually offer.
Their sambal is a delight in both their Nasi Lemak and the Murtabak. You can see why people are coming back for more and I can’t say no to more mamak style restaurants in Melbourne. The majority of the food is tasty, and cooked with though. If you’re in the CBD and want Malaysian Mamak food, you’d be hard pressed to find a better one.
Although for more variety, ChilliPadi in Flemington I feel offers better bang-for-your-buck but YMMV.
366 Lonsdale St
Melbourne VIC 3000