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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sydney Kopitiam Malaysian Cafe, Ultimo

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.

View Larger Map
Kopitiam Cafe on Urbanspoon

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
11 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 4/28/2007 12:02:00 am


  • At 4/28/2007 12:08 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi I've been reading your weblog for a few weeks now. And with this post I noticed how beautiful your photos are , Kopitiam's food looks better than I remember it! What kind of camera are you using?

    & thanks for a great site.

  • At 4/28/2007 12:21 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Helen,

    I see you're traipsing around Sydney sampling the Malaysian cuisine. Why don't you venture out and try Indonesian? We have similar food style to Malaysian but with slight variations. Cendol and Kangkung are staples for us as well. You should try Java in Randwick for no-frills but excellent Indonesian. A mere suggestion :)

  • At 4/28/2007 6:25 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi AngusF - Thanks. I alternate cameras - I have a SonyCybershot DSC-P10 in the handbag (always) and try to use the Nikon D70s when I can (much nicer photos but much bigger and heavier!).

    Glad you're enjoying GrabYourFork. Hope it continues to whet your appetite!

    Hi Anon - I have eaten a fair bit of Indonesian food but yet to eat in Kingsford/Randwick, which I know is filled with plenty of good and authentic options. Thanks for the suggestion :)

  • At 4/29/2007 10:09 am, Blogger Veruca Salt said…

    The Hakka pork looks so good. So close to work. Must get try it out.

  • At 4/29/2007 8:25 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Veruca - It's a good feed. And quite cheap too :)

  • At 4/30/2007 2:18 am, Blogger n i l e e y said…

    Hi Helen, you just reminded me of the good ol' days when I was studying in Sydney, and Kopitiam just opened shop!

    I came across your blog by accident (was searching for Bread Story acticles) and immediately wished this blog was around since 2000 :)

    p.s. The owner of Bread Story has now ventured into HK-Shanghai cruisine. The restaurant's name is called SoHo. Not sure will it ever reach Sydney...

  • At 4/30/2007 5:47 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    thought miss foodie would have known Ice kacang is supposed to have corn in it. the best one i've tried had lots of rose water which i had in malaysia where i've recently come back from sampling all the authentic dishes. would like to really know where to find a good poh piah in sydney though. don't review Java in Randwick. it's already too popular as my local friendly Indonesian restaurant with good prices. I don't want to wait any longer for my favourites of Nasi Rames, Martabak, Resoles, Ayam Sereh (deep fried chicken) and Bakmi Ayam.
    S :-)

  • At 4/30/2007 11:09 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi nileey - lol. I was in the UK for most of 2000 but yeah, I wish I'd been documenting my foodie adventures over there too :)

    Hi Simon Leong - Miss Foodie doesn't know everything :) I usually have pick-your-own ice kacang and I always pick basil seeds, jackfruit and coconut jelly but never the corn. lol

  • At 5/04/2007 4:51 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I read this review last night, closed down my PC and got straight on a bus to get over there. I wasn't disappointed! I've been on the hunt for the perfect char kway teow for a while now - I haven't yet found one like my aunt used to make but this was pretty good. Closest outside the hawker stalls of Perth! Cheap & cheerful, home style food. Great stuff. Thanks Helen!

  • At 5/05/2007 11:20 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Jax - Ahh... I love that fooding decisiveness! Glad you had a decent char kway teow fix. Always happy to be of service :)

  • At 5/11/2007 12:06 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Helen,

    I noticed a couple of comments there about Java in Randwick. If you decided to go there make sure you leave some room for their durian ice cream. It's the best!

    Most people don't get past 2nd course :-)


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