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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Temasek, Parramatta

Look! Look! Say hello to the crabs, kids!

Master Four is silently petrified, shrinking back into his chair, but Miss Two is instantly alert and more than a little curious. I feel a little cruel about introducing the little 'uns to our soon-to-be-dinner but the waiter is more than obliging, beckoning Miss Two to come a little closer and touch its shell.

"Okay, now say goodbye..." The kids start waving as the colander disappears in the direction of the kitchen.

"They're just going to have a relaxing hot bath," says Veruca Salt, but the kids have already lost interest and are playing drum beats with chopsticks instead.

Hainanese chicken (whole) boneless $35.00

There's a large entourage of us today--twelve in total--here for a Sunday lunch. The restaurant isn't as busy as I'd expect, although we hear that dinners are when Temasek really goes into overdrive.

The Hainanese chicken--always a must--is a little disappointing today. Usually moist and flavoursome, the white poached chicken is somewhat dry in parts, a stituation easily rectified with a generous slathering of the three sauces provided: ginger shallot, chilli sauce and kacap manis. A pot of accompanying chicken rice (steamed rice cooked with chicken stock) is rich and filling.

Fried chicken $17.80

Fried chicken isn't quite what I'd expected. Not only is the chicken skinless, but there's no batter either. Dusted with flour and deep-fried, they're a little dry as well and not terribly crunchy either.

Sambal balacaan kang kong $16.80

Sambal balacaan kang kong puts us back on the flavour express. I recently made a version of this dish at home, and it's true, the pungent smell of fermented shrimp really does linger in your kitchen for several days. It's a dish best eaten out and we relish the contrast of the salty sweet fishiness and the tender water spinach tubes, the spicy heat slowly building on the tongue.

Assam seafood $23.80

The cavernous bowl of assam seafood is filled with chunks of fish, scrolls of calamari, curls of prawns and fat quarters of tomato. It's the soup I like best, a tangy mixture of tamarind, fish paste and sugar that packs some heat.

Satay chicken skewers $15.80 for 6 pieces

The kids are struggling with the chilli factor but they dig into the satay chicken skewers with gusto. The chicken is tender, charred to a satisfactory burnt tan and served with a bowl of very peanutty satay sauce.

Ngoh hiang $18.80
Five spice meat roll

The ngoh hiang tastes better than my first encounter, or perhaps it's because I now know what to expect. The casing of bean curd sheets are thin and extra crispy but I'm still not so keen on the filling which seems to have the texture of gristle.

Singapore chilli crab - market price

Singapore chilli crab is always an impressive dish, a huge platter piled high with crab pieces then doused in a lake of bright orange sauce flecked with egg. The sauce has quite a tomato sauce flavour to it. It's a messy hands-on affair that we attack with gusto. A plate of quartered soft white bread slices is provided for mopping up the sauce.

Almond butter king prawn (with shell) $33.80

My favourite dish of the day is easily the almond butter king prawn. The prawns are so crisp from deep-frying, you can crunch down the entire shell, head and all. But it's the topping that's the highlight: tendrils of feather-light egg yolk, squeezed through a sieve and then deep-fried to create a buttery and rich yellow lace. There's also chilli, sugar, shallots and almonds, a sweet nutty crunch the the kids end up fighting over. The little kids too.

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The Roxy Arcade, 71 George St, Parramatta, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9633 9926

Open Tuesday to Sundays (closed on Mondays and public holidays)
Lunch 11.30am - 2.30pm
Dinner 5.30pm - 10.00pm (last orders 9.30pm)

Related GrabYourFork posts:
Temasek, Parramatta (May08)

Parramatta - Hooters (yes really!)

Malaysian -- Kopitiam, Ultimo (Dec08), (Apr07) and (Apr06)
Malaysian -- Makan at Alice's, Thornleigh (Feb08) and (Jun07)
Malaysian -- Malay Chinese, Sydney (26 Apr 07) and (3 Apr 07)
Malaysian -- Mamak, Haymarket (Nov07) and (Oct07)
Malaysian -- Mc Lucksa, Haymarket
Malaysian -- The Malaya, Sydney
Malaysian -- Tan's Malaysian, Ultimo
25 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 1/13/2009 12:03:00 am


  • At 1/13/2009 12:23 am, Blogger Karen | Citrus and Candy said…

    Ooh a dry hainanese chicken is a travesty indeed! Have you tried the chicken rice in Istana? It's my favourite in Sydney along with Alice's - and all in Thornleigh!

    I must try the Assam Laksa! It looks mouthwatering!

  • At 1/13/2009 8:36 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You know I hate nuts in my savouries but the almond butter dish was strangely moreish. I think it was the deep fried egg.

    Not a huge fan of the chilli crab. I find the sweetness of the sauce weird. Having the sauce cold from the fridge took the edge off it and made it much more enjoyable the next day.

  • At 1/13/2009 9:23 am, Blogger Annie said…

    The egg yolk topping on the last one has me intrigued! And the chilli crab... *drool*

  • At 1/13/2009 9:40 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The soup sounds divine!

  • At 1/13/2009 10:14 am, Blogger trishie said…

    Temasek is one of the best Singaporean restaurants in Sydney...my favourite dish is the nasi lemak (rice in coconut milk), gotta give that a try next time!

  • At 1/13/2009 11:53 am, Blogger Miss Honey said…

    I am drooling, need I say more...

  • At 1/13/2009 2:38 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I always worry about kids and things like that but I find that they're either a) very pragmatic about it or b)loving the murdering aspect!

  • At 1/13/2009 3:06 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Helen! You have made my day! I didn't realise there was a restaurant that served buttered prawns in Sydney. I always have to wait till I visit KL to get my fix!! Do you know if there are other restaurants that serve it?

  • At 1/13/2009 10:02 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    maybe it was lack of sleep but Temasek lacked X factor for me.

    Is Alice of Thornleigh doing another Chinese New Year meal - I'd be willing to trek that far for our b'day dinner.

  • At 1/13/2009 11:16 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Karen - I haven't been to Istana yet but I have heard some good things.

    Is the Assam Seafood the same as Assam Laksa? There was no noodles per se. The best assam laksa I've had was at Malay Chinese which was heady with the flavour and aroma of prawn heads. They only make it every 5th Thursday though, so you have to sync your visit with their timetable.

    Hi Veruca Salt - I was so taken aback that you liked this dish. Sugar and nuts in a savoury dish break two of your golden food rules! The egg was great.

    I have to say I still prefer mud crab with ginger and shallots but maybe that's because it's what I'm used to.

    Hi Annie - The butter prawns was amazing. I've seen it a couple of times and always wanted to try it. It was great. I'm so glad I did!

    Hi Arwen - The soup was yum. So much flavour in every mouthful.

    Hi Trishiekoh - I do like nasi lemak but it's the kinda dish you can only order when everyone is doing their own thing. I always love the deep-fried anchovies.

    Hi Miss Honey - Ahh my work is done :)

    Hi Lorraine E - The kids know that pork comes from pigs etc etc and seem okay with it, but I'm waiting for the day it twigs that death is involved. I think that Asian families do have a pragmatic approach to the consumption of meat though.

    Hi Deb84 - I'm sure that buttered prawns is available in quite a few places around Sydney. I think I've seen it at Chinese Herbal King Seafood in Ultimo, and I think it's also at Satasia in Balmain.

    Hi Divemummy - I think we had a few misses, but I also think you're probably not a big fan of Malaysian and Singaporean food deep down :) Not sure if Makan@Alice's is doing another CNY banquet. I'm sure they are. Maybe give them a ring and we can schedule :)

  • At 1/13/2009 11:53 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ahh Temasek how I miss thee. I love the chicken rice here so fragrant and aromatic ^^! And mopping up the chilli crab sauce with the white bread is also another highlight even if it is mouth-burning XD

  • At 1/14/2009 10:00 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi FFichiban - Oh you will have to go back to Temasek for old times' sake :) The white bread is a funny end to the meal but it is a great mop for the sauce!

  • At 1/15/2009 8:35 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm EXTREMELY jealous of that crab you ate! Look very tasty. I love temasek. They started off being just one said and now they're bigger! More sambal for me!

  • At 1/15/2009 10:58 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My friend loves this place, he comes at least once a week and the staff know him!! but i still find this place average, i dont see what all the fuss is about

  • At 1/16/2009 12:12 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Teresa - The sauce was flavoursome but I forgot to mention the crab itself wasn't as sweet as we'd hoped for a live one. And you'll have to fight me for the sambal. lol

    Hi Sydneyguyrojoe - I guess everyone has personal tastes. It tends to be a bit hit and miss for me.

  • At 1/16/2009 1:35 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Family friends own Temasek, and undeniably its the best singaporean restaurant in Sydney!!
    True the desserts they're wonderful, and so are the drinks.

  • At 1/16/2009 11:42 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Anon - Ahhh a totally unbiased comment from a neutral passerby! We had a few of their desserts last time and I did enjoy my cendol drink.

  • At 1/18/2009 10:27 am, Blogger A Sydney Foodie said…

    Wow, I like the look of the almond butter king prawn. I don't think I've seen that at other restaurants before.

  • At 1/19/2009 1:47 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi A Sydney Foodie - I think it's on the menu at a couple of places around Sydney but agreed, it's not a common offering. I think this could be a new addiction. Keep an eye out for it on Malaysian/Singaporean menus :)

  • At 2/21/2009 2:03 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    err... Belachan is actually hard dried shrimp paste rather than fermented fish....

  • At 2/21/2009 8:22 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Anon - I always considered belachan to be a bit of both. Both dried and fermented?

  • At 2/21/2009 11:39 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    lol. No, I simply meant that it's shrimp rather than fish. It is dried and fermented. Have you seen it being done? It's actually really gross, but interesting. That and fish sauce - the process is enough to turn you off, but the end product is oh-so-good.

  • At 2/22/2009 10:14 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Anon - lol. You're right, and thanks for the correction! My bad!

    I haven't seen belachan or fish sauce being made in person - only on TV. Would love to check it out though. I hear the fish sauce places are just like vineyards with tastings etc.

  • At 2/22/2009 11:03 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    ^^ No prob, i'm kind of a nitpicker. Yeah, I saw this one tv show that filmed the process of water people in Vietnam or Cambodia (forget which one, it was awhile back) making fish sauce, and it was interesting, if a little unhygienic. I'm sure the commercial versions are better (or, we can hope that what we don't know won't hurt). I also have a restaurant recommendation :D Parramatta Dragon Restaurant - they have seafood banquets for a bargain. It's a family/mum 'n' pop run business. I think we tried a banquet that had shark's fin soup, crispy skin pigeon and other dishes for around $70-ish (5 people). Cheers!

  • At 2/24/2009 12:10 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Anon - Thanks for the tip. Sounds like a great find. I love family-run restaurants!


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