The current ripple of new Malaysian restaurants opening in Sydney has been welcomed with open arms. My open arms. Petaling Street, More More Cha and Jaya Malaysian to name a few. I’m yet to get to those places but I did drop by Nonya by Ginger & Spice a couple of weeks back when Chinatown was in full swing with its New Year celebrations.
The lofty set-up is contemporary and dark and features some lovely pop video’s on a couple of flat screens up on the walls. That’ll keep the kids happy. The very young staff buzz around the tables delivering petite dishes to the munching crowd; most of them know what they’re doing while others seem to have left their common sense at home
My initial request of otak otak came with “oh sorry we don’t have that today” with which I responded “is there anything else unavailable?” Two more things were rattled off. Bugger. I wanted those as well. Well trained floor staff inform you of unavailable dishes as soon as you get the menu, not after spending time and making choices. Perhaps my expectations are a little high.
Not even knowing what a black cattle (6) was, I ordered it anyway. A glass of coke topped with ice cream. Fun! I feel pre-pubescent again. The food came out in a random procession with about 5 to 10 minutes in between and we’re hit with the bbq pork (11) first. Tender bits held together with slightly gristly bits and absolutely rocking with garlic. Great flavours despite giving the jaws a good workout. The chicken satay (8) is just as good but the thimble of rather runny peanut sauce was simply not enough.
Much the same set up as loh bak, the ngoh hiang (10) is a divine mix of five spiced pork, prawn and chestnut bundles in thin and cellophane-like bean curd skin. I was completely enamoured by this dish even as it contributed to the garlic mosh pit in my mouth. Love the sticky kecap manis on the side.
The snacking ended with a final bowl of ikan bilis (8). Crunchy fried anchovies in a wonderfully sweet, salty and spicy sambal. Halfway through the bowl we’re still munching on the food when a guy walks past, reaches down and asks if we were finished. Halfway through the bowl. “No, we’re still eating.” I say, still chewing. A couple of minutes later the bowl is down to the last couple of tablespoons of ikan bills when the same guy walks past and takes the dish and starts to walk away without saying a word. I asked him to come back and let me finish it, which he did, completely oblivious and off with the fairies. I’m hoping with the $20 / bottle corkage that these kids at least know how to pour a glass.
Next time I may call ahead and ask if the otak otak is on, rather than arrive with high hopes. I won’t be rushing, though.