Teh tarik Malaysian milk tea $4.50
Exhausted? Lethargic? It's funny how the mere mention of food will always make me sit up with interest.
And so it was that a car full of food bloggers, silently slumped in their seats after a long day at the Sydney Food Bloggers' Christmas party, found themselves all smiles again when Karen suddenly pipes up out "should we have dinner at Alice's?"
Oh how quickly we found renewed energy again.
Homemade barley drink $3.00
The flyscreen door entrance to Makan at Alice's always makes me thinks I'm visiting someone's home . To the left is the cashier counter, still piled high with takeaway boxes of homemade kuih (Malaysian bite-sized desserts) if you're lucky. The dining room is through another doorway into a large bright and airy room, set with simple chairs and tables and decorative lanterns overhead.
Roti canai and curry $11.80
Malaysian grilled bread with lamb curry
Most of us start with teh tarik, hot and strong sweet tea that has been poured from jug to jug to create a frothed top. Simon has the homemade barley drink, traditionally believed to have health benefits.
Roti canai are flaky discs of pastry, cooked on a griddle to a speckled hue. We tear them by hand, and use it to scoop up mouthfuls of the accompanying lamb curry, not particularly meaty but the sauce is creamy with coconut milk and aromatic.
Chai Tow Kuih $13.80
Homemade radish cake fried with chia poh, egg, sprouts and chives
Chai Tow Kuih is my choice, and it doesn't disappoint. The homemade radish cake is made by steaming a mixture of rice flour with grated Chinese white radish (also known as Japanese daikon). The cooled mixture is then cut into cubes at fried at high heat with lots of oil.
The magic of this dish is always about the crispy veneer of the pan-fried radish, and Alice's version has been fried sufficiently to create caramelised cubes of bliss that are smoky with wok hei or "breath of wok". A jumble of omelette adds extra sustenance, and the heaviness of the dish is balanced by crunchy bean sprouts, shallots and bright green lengths of garlic chives.
Wat tan hor $15.80
Grilled rice noodles topped with thick egg gravy
with seafood, pork and vegetables
Karen's craving for Hainan chicken are unfufilled, our waitress regretfully advising that they've already sold out. She's placated with the last of the chicken rice ($3) and orders the wat tan hor instead.
I'm not usually a fan of what I call "gluggy dishes" but this dish gradually wins me over. The thick and gelatinous sauce seems to enhance the slippery smoothness of the fresh rice noodles, and the swaddle of prawns, pork, fish and vegetables is comforting and nourishing.
Butter soft shell crab $22.80
Crispy soft shell crab cooked in butter, eggs, curry leaves and chilli
Suze orders the butter soft shell crab, and it's a dish we're all looking forward to. The soft shell crab, deep-fried until golden brown, is served with a fluffy cloud of green and gold on top. Wisps of buttered egg are as delicate as Persian fairy floss, the mixture tossed through with curry leaves fried to a crisp, and bright red bits of chilli.
The dish is rich but tasty, best savoured with alternate mouthfuls of rice. I eat up all the lettuce leaves, ostenibly for the vegetable vitamins, but really it's because they collect all the little crumbs of crab and egg and chilli at the bottom.
Homemade pandan strands, red bean and grass jelly
in coconut milk with gula melaka
We share dessert. Cendol, pandan-flavoured green pea flour noodles that look like "worms", arrives in a bowl of sweet and salty coconut milk. A submerged mound of ice is tinted brown with gula melaka palm syrup, and digging toward to the botom we find cubes of herbal grass jelly and soft cooked sweet red beans.
Pulut hitam $5.50
Sweet black glutinous rice dessert with a dash of coconut cream
We finish with pulut hitam is another traditional Malaysian dessert. The black glutinous rice has a slightly chewy texture, the rice soaking up the puddle of salted coconut cream on top.
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Makan at Alice's
Shop 3, 262 Pennant Hills Road, Thornleigh, Sydney
(turn into Bellevue Street and it's on your left)
Tel: +61 (02) 9484 8288
Lunch Tuesday to Sunday 11.30am - 2.30pm
Dinner Thursday to Sunday 6.00pm - 9.00pm
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Malaysian - Kopitiam, Ultimo (Dec08), (Apr07) and (Apr06)
Malaysian - Makan at Alice's, Thornleigh (Feb08) and (Jun07)
Malaysian - Malacca Straits, Broadway
Malaysian - Malay Chinese, Sydney (26 Apr 07) and (3 Apr 07)
Malaysian - Mamak, Haymarket (Jul09), (Nov07) and (Oct07)
Malaysian - Mc Lucksa, Haymarket
Malaysian - The Malaya, Sydney
Malaysian - Tan's Malaysian, Ultimo
Malaysian - Temasek, Parramatta (Jan09) and (May08)
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1/07/2010 02:21:00 a.m.