Food should always be social.
It's even better when it means you can order more food.
Four of us indulged in a communal lunch of dishes at Sydney Kopitiam Malaysian Cafe. It's not particularly busy the day we visit, this popular hawker-style eatery on Harris Street, down near Hannah's Pies and the Powerhouse Museum.
It's been a year since I last had a meal here and I'm more than ready to grab my fork.
Prawn sambal $12.80
Stir fried prawns with onion in sambal sauce
The prawn sambal is deceptively spicy. It's quite a sweet dish with generous petals of onions and rosy tomato quarters. The sambal is sweet like a thick chilli jam, and the heat builds slowly but steadily to a lip-tingling pleasure.
Hakka style pork $13.80
Last time I'd dined here with CucinaRebecca we'd ordered the tasty Hakka style pork. My lunch companions are happy to try this dish but it's a little fattier than I remembered, with great planks of fat-ribboned pork belly complete with gelatinous skin. The sauce seems milder too, than the star-anise laden herbal concoction I'm sure we'd delighted in on our first encounter.
Curry lamb $10.50
Lamb in authentic Malaysian curry sauce
The curry lamb is aromatic and lightly thickened with coconut milk. Cubes of lamb flake apart with a gentle prod of the fork. Chunks of potato are tender and creamy.
Belacan kangkung $8.50
Water spinach fried with spicy prawn paste
My favourite dish is the belacan kangkung, a jumble of water spinach tossed through with belacan, a Malaysian type of fermented shrimp paste. It's sweet and salty, spicy with chilli and deliciously pungent with garlic, shallots and fermented shrimp.
The tubes of kangkung, light and green and almost squeaky on the teeth, are perfect virginal vessels for the assault of flavours.
Malacca chendol with shaved ice $3.80
My malacca chendol is a delicious drink/dessert. Ice shavings are packed in tight over a huddle of chendol, green worm-like noodles made from starch. The lot is poured over with coconut milk and there's a generous slosh of palm sugar syrup, lending the drink a rich caramel flavour that borders on painfully sweet.
Ice kacang $4.50
Three of us share a modest bowl of ice kacang for dessert. A couple of spoonfuls each is the perfect end to a filling meal. Buried beneath the mound of syrup-drenched ice is a motley assortment of sweet fruits and beans: red bean and jackfruit, lychee and jelly, there's even a spoonful of creamed corn that plays some havoc with our brain's idea of "dessert". It tastes a little jarring to my tastebuds, a psychological barrier no doubt.
A little bit of Malaysia in downtown Sydney. And you don't even need a passport to get there.
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Sydney Kopitiam Malaysian Cafe
594 Harris St, Ultimo, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9282 9883
Open 7 days
Lunch 12pm-3pm, Dinner 6pm-10pm
This has been included as an Intrepid Eat on Grab Your Fork's Top 10 Sydney Eats for Tourists. Read the entire list here.
Related GrabYourFork posts:
Sydney Kopitiam Malaysian Cafe, April 2006
Cafe Kasturi, Haymarket
Kopitiam Malaysian Cafe, Ultimo
Malay Chinese Takeaway, Sydney, April 26, 2007
Malay Chinese Takeaway, Sydney, April 3, 2007
The Malaya, Sydney
Tan's Malaysian, Ultimo
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4/28/2007 12:02:00 a.m.