Sydney, they say, is one of the world’s culinary capitals. And my many visits to this city have proved to me that it is completely deserving of this title. With its diverse, young, free-spirited population, the Australian business capital has emerged into a global gourmet destination, with some of the world’s finest restaurants, chefs and cuisines. There is a HUGE Asian population in Sydney, which obviously translates into a BUZZING Asian food scene here. There are entire quarters with strings of restaurants serving Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and even ‘Indian Chinese’ food (as I was delighted to discover).
I am a die-hard fan of Malaysian and Singaporean food. For one, I have travelled to both these places so regularly and gone on my own gastronomic tours through the streets of Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. And then, I just LOVE the colours, aromas and strong flavours of this cuisine. I read about PappaRich Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide, which gave it a rave review. Sydneysiders have been calling it ‘The Best Malaysian Restaurant’ in town. Here’s a bit about the restaurant. Pappa Rich opened up its first outlet in Kuala Lumpur way back in 2005 and has now grown to over 70 outlets. They opened up their Australian branches in Melbourne a few years ago. A few months ago, they opened up their first Sydney branch in the chic shopping area of Chatswood.
By the time we got to the PappaRich Sydney, there was a serpentine queue on the sidewalk, waiting to get in. And it was a weekday. With the kind of rave reviews it has been receiving, this comes as no surprise to me. We managed to get a table pretty quickly and there was not an empty seat in the house. So much so, that we were initially escorted to makeshift table that the staff had put up right across the passage to the washrooms. We refused vehemently, till we were escorted to a regular table.
Most people unfamiliar with Malaysian food would mistake it for Chinese food – bland, steamed, odd creatures and the works. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! Malaysian food is, in fact, a beautiful amalgamation of Chinese, Indonesian, Indian and European cuisine, all rolled into one. You might be eating Roti Pratas off the streets of Kuala Lumpur but your vendor will be quick to point out that it is a Malaysian dish and NOT an Indian dish.
Roti Prata or Roti Canai is a soft, flaky paratha, freshly made on a griddle, which has assumed a strongly Malaysian identity. It is best enjoyed with a spicy chicken or fish curry. (I’ve even eaten it with an egg broken on it and melted cheese). It seems to be a signature on Pappa Rich’s menu because there is an entire section dedicated to it. I couldn’t resist. Here’s what it looked like.
We ended the meal with an Egg Sago Pudding.
We were five of us and the meal set us back by about AUD 125 (Rs 7, 500), which is not very expensive by Sydney restaurant standards.
Pappa Rich, in my opinion, has got their Malaysian fare right and, besides the prawns, haven’t really made any effort to temper down spices and flavours for their diners. They have the best satay I’ve tasted outside Malaysia (and Singapore) Can’t wait to go back.