Straits Cafe

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Straits Cafe near Knox is a popular Malaysian eatery, mostly known for it’s tasty Char Kway Teoh and overall good food. It’s extremely difficult to get tables during the weekend as the place doesn’t cater to many people (space is small) and well, people just enjoy going there to dine.

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Sometimes Straits has specials on posted at the back whether it be main dishes or entrees. We ordered their Friend Chicken with Sambal seasoning. It was served fresh and straight from the fryer and was quite tasty. The skin was crisp and crunchy, and the chicken was cooked well. I couldn’t really taste the, I presume, spicy seasoning but for Malaysian Fried Chicken it was tasty nonetheless.

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I believe they are quite well known for their Char Kway Teoh because of it’s authentic Malaysian flavour and one of the more spicy offerings around. There is just something I can’t really put my finger on it, that gives it that extra hit. It’s that special “wok” flavour but it’s so vague and indescribable that it’s best not to talk about that any further. You really are hard pressed to find a Char Kway Teoh as flavourful, spicy and overall tasty as this. I’d say Claypot King in Glen Waverley had nearly or even just as good of a offering as Straits but they no longer operate so the crown goes to Straits.

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Their Char Hor Fun has stir fried hor fun noodles which are always a delight. The egg sauce is delicious, and I believe they put in the deep fried  diced lard but I can’t be certain. Everything here was tasty, the seafood and chicken cooked nicely, and a good serve of vegetables. My only criticism, even if, ever so slight, is that they put the preserved (vinegar) chopped green chillies on the plate as well. So if you don’t like your sauce a tad sour, it can make the sauce kinda strange as somehow the chilli flavour spreads throughout the whole sauce. Again, nothing to make a fuss about, but it may not be to people’s likings.

IMG_9110One of their main specials was the Tok Tok Mee, which is apparently Penang Style. I can’t vouch for that as I have never tried it in Penang but this dish sure looked delicious. It had a wide selection of toppings from the steamed chicken, char siu pork, crumbed chicken, boiled wontons and vegetables. It really had it all.

IMG_9106Straits’ Teh Tarik was a slight letdown as it was overly sweet and lacked the pulling tea flavour. It also wasn’t frothy enough but still may please some people.

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For a sweet warm dessert, Pulut Hitam hits the spot. My mother does an excellent Pulut Hitam, that is much less sweet and actually tastes better as a result (Go figure) but for a restaurant offering, it’s quite nice. It has those black sticky rice that give it that added texture and the coconut cream provides the creaminess that is much required. Overall, it’s a pretty good Pulut Hitam as many places don’t offer it, although slightly too sweet for my tastes but maybe I’m just spoilt with my mother’s delicious cooking.

Impressions

Straits Cafe offers a good variety of Malaysian dishes and most of them do hit the spot. The authentic Malaysian flavours is what people come back for and you can certainly see why. On weekends it was definitely is preferable to book ahead as without a reservation you may be waiting for quite some time.

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Straits Cafe
241 Stud Rd
Wantirna South VIC 3152

PappaRich (Chadstone)

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PappaRich fever has hit Australia. It seems like it’s the sister franchise to PappaRoti (Update: I’ve been informed they are completely separate entities). With its first franchise opening up in QV where Old Town Kopitiam Mamak was, earlier this year. They have quickly opened up two more stores, one in Doncaster and the latest one in Chadstone Shopping Centre (Outside but close to Aldi) with probably more to come. If you haven’t guessed already, they serve Malaysian food and quite a good variety of food at that.

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We ordered Nasi Briyani with Eggplant, Curry Prawns and Fried Chicken and Pappadam. I don’t think very many places serve Nasi Briyani, so it was a pleasant surprise to see it on the menu. The Briyani was fantastic, it had a very strong but not overpowering flavour, nicely cooked with all the spices. I’m not a big fan of sultanas in Briyani though, but it is a staple for most.

The Curry Prawns aren’t overly spicy, it’s mostly sweet actually and these prawns are the bite sized kind. I prefer the King Prawns but these little prawns suffice. The eggplant adds a nice spicy flavour to it to. Overall, it’s definitely a good meal, with a wide variety of flavours that all work well together. A must for Briyani lovers.

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Their Curry Laksa is very different to the popular Laksa’s around. It tastes very home-made and it also lacks that huge punch of coconut milk/cream. Which is a good thing in my book! Sometimes I prefer a milder, less rich Laksa and this hits the sweet spot. There are a couple of Laksa varieties of the menu, Chicken, Vegetarian, and Seafood. I chose the Chicken version and it is served with chicken (of course),  fried bean curd, bean curd, eggplant and a hint of mint. It also only has Hokkien Mee (no Bee Hoon as some Laksa’s have) so it really depends on your preferences. There is a lot to like with PappaRich’s Laksa as mentioned above, the curry soup is delicious as it retains a nice curry flavour but also adds a kick of spice. Overall, I’m pretty happy with this dish it is a definite change of pace.

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You can’t go to a Malaysian restaurant and not see Nasi Lemak, here we ordered the Nasi Lemak with Curry Chicken and Sambal. I’ve got to say that Sambal is superb. It’s sweet, and my golly does it have a huge hit of heat. I’m in love, best Sambal I’ve had in a while. The Curry Chicken is slightly sweet, but it’s nice. I’d order this dish just for the Sambal to be honest.

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Their Drinks menu is quite large too, here we ordered the Soya Bean with Grass Jelly. I liked this because it has a strong soya flavour but also it isn’t too sweet so for those that would like a nice refreshing drink but not overly sweet. Here it is!

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PappaRich’s Teh Tarik is pretty good too, has a nice tea flavour but not overwhelming. Same with the sweetness, although I still prefer Chilli Padi Mamak‘s Teh Tarik. It’s also a tad smaller then what you’d get elsewhere, so there is a bit of a trade off.

Impressions

PappaRich has definitely made an impression on me. It’s menu is full of things to try, from their Roti’s and snacks, to Noodles and Rice dishes and a great selection of desserts and drinks. Although their ABC Ice Kacang is definitely the most expensively priced item I’ve seen, priced at roughly $7  I didn’t even try it. I’m a bit wary of the portion size but also if it leads to disappointment as I think it would.

I do have to warn you for first timers that you order by writing down your selection on the pads found on the side and once you’re down you wave down one of the staff to take your paper. They then give you your receipt which you pay at the end of your meal at the receipt counter. I don’t think some of the staff do tell you that so best be warned before sitting there for minutes waiting for service.

Other than that, the service was surprisingly good. We had to wait roughly 10 minutes to get seats as PappaRich still is affected by the “new/curious” diners (like me) but once we ordered, food came within another 5/10 minutes. Pretty good actually for a full house.

Overall, I would dine again just to try their other items and it means there is actually some good Malaysian food in Chadstone, apart from Chadstone Shopping Centre’s Chilli Mama (Located in the Food Court) and Nudle (Near Nandos/Cinemas). It actually makes me want to go to Chadstone more often!

PappaRich (Chadstone Shopping Centre) on Urbanspoon

PappaRich Chadstone
Shop F029
Chadstone Shopping Centre
Chadstone VIC 3148

Killiney Kopitiam

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Killiney Kopitiam is a Singaporean franchise that has opened up on Lygon St, Carlton. Near to the famous Gelato/Ice-creamery, Il Dolce Freddo. As a Kopitiam, they serve a selection of hot and cold beverages such as coffee, tea, Tek Tarik and Milo and also a nice and decently priced selection of Hawker style dishes, and Traditional Singaporean/Malaysian dishes.

Their Mee Rebus was slightly spicy and had a nice tangy flavour to it, like it should be. However, the sauce was overly running and that was a bit strange to be honest. Killiney Kopitiam’s dishes are probably smaller than most other Malaysian/Singaporean restaurants around Melbourne but because most of their dishes are under $9, it probably is still good value for money.

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I also tried their Singaporean Laksa and that was surprisingly good. The Laksa soup was nice and creamy, with a good amount of spice and coconut flavour. The fresh bean sprouts, chicken, tofu, boiled egg and chopped coriander all worked well together. The bean sprouts and coriander especially made it taste very fresh, which was even more surprisingly because I don’t usually like it with anything.

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To go to a Kopitiam and not order Teh Tarik would be unacceptable for me. Their Teh Tarik was actually pretty darn good, it didn’t have as much tea flavour as Chillipadi Kopitiam but way above some of the other offerings I’ve had around Melbourne.

Overall, my impressions of Killiney Kopitiam are mostly positive. Their food came pretty quickly, and staff were friendly enough. The restaurant also had a nice atmosphere to it, probably because it looked clean for an Asian restaurant. Ha!

I definitely recommend this place for those students around Carlton, or even if you want something different on Lygon St. Even if you’re not around the area, as one of the few Singaporean eateries around Melbourne it probably is worthwhile to visit. You can have a look at the menu here!

Killiney Kopitiam on Urbanspoon

Killiney Kopitiam
114 Lygon Street
Carlton VIC 3053

Nanyang Kopitiam

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Nanyang Kopitiam is located on Canterbury Road, close to an Indian grocer and a BP Petrol station. They offer a mix of Malaysian and Chinese dishes for a decent price. It’s not exactly a popular part of Box Hill, it’s actually very quiet even around the peak lunch time period on a weekend. [Update: Apparently this has closed down]

They don’t particularly have a great range of dishes to choose from, but they do have all your standards offered in many Malaysian restaurants here. One that seems to be on more Malaysian menu’s now is the Mee Rebus, and luckily for those Mee Rebus lovers out there, this is on Nanyan Kopitiam’s menu.
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I’ll first talk about their Nasi Lemak. You get your choice of Curry Chicken or Rendang Beef like most Malaysian eateries, I often choose their Rendang since I like the flavours more so than your usual curry. It’s probably also that I often have Curry Chicken at home anyway.

Their Nasi Lemak also comes with your standard sides,  so nothing out of the ordinary here. Their Rendang was a bit too tough for my liking, I think it’s because they hadn’t cooked it long enough but the sweet and spicy flavours were all there. I did enjoy it to be honest but the toughness was a bit of a letdown.

The sambal was overly sweet, and lacked that chilli punch that Taste Of Singapore has.

Overall it was a decent meal, and if you’re in those parts of town their Nasi Lemak is definitely okay.

I had a little taste of their Mee Rebus and it was quite good but it was odd because their sauce was extremely watery but it had all the essential flavours in it. I’m usually used to a thicker gravy but although this was different in looks, the taste was all there.
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Probably the stand out for me was their Roti Canai. Their curry was delicious and had loads of flavour. It wasn’t too creamy and had just enough spice and heat to it. Along with their fresh roti (Their own roti if I’m not mistaken), that was nice and crisp on the outside but soft inside, I couldn’t really fault it.
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Nanyang Kopitiam’s Char Kway Teow looked great. I only had a small taste of this as well, but again, it had a good balance of flavours and spice to it. People rave about Straits Char Kway Teow as one of the best in Victoria but this isn’t too bad either.

Strangely enough they say Kopitiam but it lacks many of the drinks you may find in a Kopitiam like for instance, Teh Tarik. I can’t remember if they served Coffee but I have my doubts.

All in all, if you’re in the area Nanyan Kopitiam will satisfy your Malaysian cuisine cravings. Even if you’re not , it’s decent enough to give it a try.

Nanyang Kopitiam on Urbanspoon

Nanyang Kopitiam

895c Canterbury Road
Box Hill
Victoria, 3128

Tel: 03 9899 7077

ChilliPadi Mamak Kopitiam – Flemington

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ChilliPadi Mamak Kopitiam’s more spacious locations is situated on Racecourse Rd, and only just a couple of minutes walk from Newmarket Station. I’ve already mentioned their store on Waterfront City, but if you want greater variety of choices then their Flemington restaurant is the one to try. It’s sometimes just hard enough to pick what to eat with all these choices! #firstworldproblems

We have now been there on numerous occassions and staff are always quite friendly, along with decent service to boot. With the various dishes I’ve tried, the majority of them would be something I’d go back for.

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Their Nasi Lemak with Beef Rendang is a good pick. Their Beef Rendang is tender, and you can tell it has been cooked long enough for it to soften. Far too many places that have a Rendang option, serve incredibly tough beef so I was happy that is is one of the few exceptions.The sauce is also quite good, it has a good amount of spice and sweetness but it may be too mild for some people.

Of course with Nasi Lemak, they have the standard sambal and vegetables, all quite good and nothing too out of the ordinary. My verdict? I’d probably order it again, but probably after I’ve tried all the other dishes (Might take me a while)

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I’ve had some family friends that have tried this and not really liked it. For me, their Har Mee is also fantastic. It definitely is for those that like a spicier soup. It has all the standard Har Mee ingredients such as boiled egg, prawns, asian vegetables, chicken, fishcake and the two types of noodles. All of it was pretty good, but I’ll admit the prawns lacked any real prawn taste but overall I’d also try it again.IMG_6471

One of the rarer dishes that you’d probably be hard pressed to find in your typical Malaysian restaurant is Pasembor or otherwise known as Indian Rojak. Don’t get confused with their other Rojak as it is worlds apart. Their Pasembor contains fried potatoes, prawn fritters, egg, bean sprouts, cucumber and a warm slightly sweet gravy with a hint of Indian/Malaysian spices. This was the first time I’ve tried this so I can’t gauge it’s authenticity but on taste and flavour? It was good, the sauce was flavoursome, but since I’m not a big fan of bean sprouts either raw or blanched, it isn’t a favourite. What I can say is that my mother (born and raised in Malaysia) had ordered it again on another visit here so that’s a good sign.

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Lobak! A good one this time. Sometimes I find Malaysian restaurant’s Lobak to be overly dry and lacking in the flavour department too. This on the otherhand was crispy, not too oily, and was cooked well. Plus, the nice sweet chilli sauce gave it the much needed sweetness and slight chilli spice.

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I can’t recall the name of this Cucur Udang (thanks Adri)  but it’s basically prawn fritters and it’s a specialty item that was served during the Muslim month of Ramadhan  (thanks again Adri!) and Malaysia Day period. The batter is quite thick and crunchy and is served with a satay sauce. This isn’t one of my favourites, it’s definitely too oily and too thick for my liking. Even the satay sauce was a bit too thick but on the plus side, the prawns were nicely cooked.
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My mother loves Mee Rebus, she used to always go to ABC Cafe in Glen Waverley and order this. She was saddened to hear that ABC Cafe closed down and so she has been on the lookout for another good Mee Rebus. Their Mee Rebus is different to ABC’s in terms of flavour. There is something with ChilliPadi’s sauce that makes the taste a bit odd, I think it might be too acidic/sour but sweet and packed full of spice so it’s an odd combination. It seems unbalanced but maybe that’s how they do it at ChilliPadi. I’ll say I’ve had a taste of a Singaporean restaurant on Lygon St, called Killiney Kopitiam and was surprisingly close to what ABC’s sauce and flavour was like, albeit less thick.

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Their Nasi Briyani was also only a specialty item for Malaysia Day, and I was amazed at how good it tasted. The flavours just in the rice was fantastic, we’ve been asking them to put it on their menu but at this point it probably will stay a once off kinda thing. This was much better than Taste of Singapore’s offering, and even that was good. Their Nasi Briyani is very similar to how my mother used to cook it and that’s how I like it!

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As with most Mamak stores in Malaysia, one of their main specialties is their Nasi Kandar. Where you are able to choose your rice, curries, meat and vegetables. ChilliPadi’s selection is decent, slightly smaller selection to Old Town Kopitiam but decent. You can pick from coconut or plain rice, a sauce of either Lamb Curry, Gulai Ayam or Daging Masak Kicap, and your meat/protein (Beef Rendang, Daging Masak Kicap, Gulai Ayam, Assam Fish Curry, Butter Chicken or Lamb Curry), and one vegetable (Jelatah, Tumeric, Madras or Dhall Masala).

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I’ve been trying all the Malaysian restaurant’s Teh Tarik and apart from Chilli Mama, there haven’t been any really good ones. ChilliPadi’s Teh Tarik is probably one of the better ones I’ve tasted. It has a stronger tea taste, and it isn’t numbingly sweet, it probably could be less sweet (we add a bit of hot water and it’s perfect) but other then that I can’t really fault it.
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Their Ice Cendol was something I was looking forward to trying, however it left me a tad underwhelmed. As you can see, it’s quite runny and it has nowhere near enough shaved ice. They also added way too much coconut cream/milk and not enough brown sugar so it’s balance is off. Maybe I got them on an off day, I’ll probably try it sometime in the future but not for a while since I was quite disappointed with how it turned out.

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The three layers drink (Not sure of it’s name  three layer tea according to Adri – thanks for the details!), is very tasty. The layers aren’t as divisive as they are supposed to be but what it lacks in aesthetic value, it provides in great flavour. Be warned as it is indeed for those sweet tooth’s. The syrup layer (palm sugar syrup) at the bottom should probably be stirred until it mixes with the other tea and evaporated milk layer as this is where all the sweetness comes from. It’s actually quite similar to Teh Tarik in terms of taste.

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I can’t recall if ChilliPadi serve Bubur Cha Cha on their day-to-day menu but they definitely don’t serve the Burbur Cha Cha with Durian everyday. This particular dessert was on their menu during the Malaysia Day festivities and what makes it so different is the Durian paste-like topping. I was pleasantly surprised at how nice their Bubur Cha Cha was. It had all the essentials, diced sweet potatoes, taro and I think yams, with pearls. The warm coconut milk soup was delicious and is probably one of the best offerings I’ve tasted. It even beats some of the restaurants I’ve tried it in, in Malaysia. Only downside would be the diced vegetables are probably slightly too big, I prefer smaller chunks but it doesn’t really take away from the taste all that much.

Now, with the added Durian paste, it’s a whole another experience. I’m actually not a fan of Durian at all, it’s taste or it’s infamous odour but because it comes in this paste, the natural smell is non-existant and the Durian flavour is milder. I only added a bit of the paste stirred into my bowl so it was quite subtle but still noticeable. I’ll admit that I was very hesitant at first to try this but I actually didn’t mind it. Would I straight up order this instead of the original Bubur Cha Cha? Probably not, but it wasn’t bad in anyway.
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For the many locals around Flemington this is a good place to go because it’s Halal, and you don’t see many Malaysian Halal stores around Victoria. ChilliPadi has catered for a different demographic to Chef Lagenda and Laksa King and that’s not a bad thing, we wouldn’t want three of the same stores so close to each other and it’s a welcomed change.

My impressions of ChilliPadi on the numerous occasions I’ve been there have been positive. If I had to choose between the three Malaysian restaurants in Flemington, I’d choose ChilliPadi. I’ll reiterate that, if you like more Indian/Malay styled Malaysian food, this is the one to visit so keep that in mind. It offers a great selection of dishes and they aren’t your typical dishes either. If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, give it a try!

Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam on Urbanspoon

Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam

293 – 295 Racecourse Road
Kensington VIC 3031
(03) 9376 0228

Taste of Singapore

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Taste of Singapore is located on Clayton Rd, not too far away from Monash University’s Clayton Campus. If I’m craving Malaysian food and can’t find it anywhere, Singaporean cuisine will satisfy my cravings. What I’ve noticed between Singaporean and Malaysian cuisine is that Singaporean food is usually slightly sweeter but of course that can depend on where you frequent.

What I found with Taste of Singapore is that it had fantastic flavours and yet wasn’t that sweet like most Singaporean food I’ve tried.

Taste of Singapore serves quite a few well known dishes along with some not so famous dishes such as Nasi Lemak, Murtabak and Nasi Briyani. They also offer some sweet treats like Kueh and Teh Tarik!

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Murtabak, as shown in the first image, is similar to Roti Canai but has a meat and onion filling. Usually this will be either lamb or beef. I’d probably go for their lamb but I know a few people who can’t quite stomach the lamb flavour.

Their Murtabak was very good, I do enjoy a crispy thin roti to dip into a spicy curry sauce and this dish met all my requirements for a great Murtabak. You also hardly ever can find a restaurant that sells Murtabak in Melbourne. So luckily it didn’t disappoint!

Taste of Singapore’s Nasi Lemak was surpisingly decent. Along with their cheaper than average, their serves are proportionate to their price. The Beef Rendang was cooked well and not too tough like some Rendang’s I’ve tried and the sauce had great authentic flavour to it too.

What was the biggest surprise was their chilli sauce/paste. I was expecting something sweet and not very spicy but this packed quite a good punch along with its sweetness so it balanced out nicely.

The usual assortment of egg, cucumber, anchovies and peanuts are mostly standard with what you get in any Nasi Lemak. I don’t think you can really go wrong with that.

Overall their Nasi Lemak is probably one of the better offerings I’ve tried in Melbourne.

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I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the flavours are from the Nasi Briyani, while the rice looks plain enough it has good flavours to it. Although their serving size is less than desirable and with only one skinny chicken drumstick, I don’t think it’s value for money to be honest.

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Oh Teh Tarik, how I love thee, and especially a good one. Taste of Singapore’s offering is one of the best I’ve tasted, probably up there with Chillipadi. It has a nice frothy top and it’s also not too sweet. A definite must try.

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Here is one of their Kueh offerings on my Saturday visit. It was so-so. What I didn’t like about it was how sweet it was. It just overpowered any flavour that the Kueh was supposed to have. The one upside is that the texture was quite nice, it was slightly chewy but mostly soft like jelly.

Taste of Singapore has great flavours and although there are some cons with a few of their dishes, it does have a lot of upsides so I’d recommend you give it a try. The Singaporean chef is also quite friendly to chat too, so it has a great atmosphere to boot. However, I’ll admit the decor leaves a little to be desired.

Taste of Singapore on Urbanspoon

Taste of Singapore

162 Clayton Rd
Clayton VIC 3168

Chillipadi – Waterfront City

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The Chillipadi name has been around for many years. It’s first store that I remember was, and still is, near Melbourne Central. It serves a mix of Malaysian/Chinese style food, with a taste of Thai as well. When we tried it out it seemed like the dishes were mostly catering to the Western food palate and so I never really bothered to venture there again.

The Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam stores are the newest entries to the Chillipadi brand, it predominantly serves Indian/Malay-Malaysian food and their versions of the popular Chinese-Malaysian cuisines too. What I like out their Mamak stores is that they serve tasty and spicy food, with all the favourites and rarities at decent prices.

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We recently stumbled upon their small store in Waterfront City, Docklands. Located opposite the still-not-opened Ferris Wheel. We hadn’t had a chance to go to their store in Flemington/Newmarket so this was our first taste of it. At their Waterfront City store they have a limited menu because of the size of the restaurant but nonetheless the staples are here.
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They have Nasi Kandar dishes which looked delicious.

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I tried their Curry Laksa, and I have got to say it was quite good. I actually prefer it to Laksa King’s or Chef Lagenda’s versions as their laksa contains more coconut cream, and for me, it’s way too creamy for my liking. Chillipadi’s Curry Laksa, balances the creamyness and spicyness quite well, making it an overall very satisfying dish. It’s definitely one I would go back for.

We also tried their Teh Tarik (Both Cold and Hot varieties) and it was also surprisingly good. If you have ever tried Old Town Kopitiam Mamak in QV, you’d notice the very big size difference when they are in fact similarly priced. Not only that but Old Town’s is incredibly sweet. Tek Tarik of course is a sweet tea drink but when you lose the whole tea flavour in favour of just sugar, it isn’t Teh Tarik.

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I’d definitely recommend this place for those who want to try something different from your usual Chinese-Malaysian dishes. Their Flemington store serves an even wider variety of foods that you probably won’t be able to try elsewhere.

Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam - Waterfront City on Urbanspoon
Chillipadi Waterfront City
Harbour Town Shopping Centre, Waterfront City
Star Crc
Docklands 3008 VIC