Friday, August 31, 2012

A taste of Penang in Perth..

I was raised in Perth, but grew up looking forward every year to going back home to Penang, Malaysia, to catch up with my cousins and other relatives and, of course, for the food.  It's truly like nothing you can find anywhere in Australia - the intensity of flavours, spices, the heat.  

Tak Chee House on William St in Northbridge specialises in a small number of really good Penang/Malaysian dishes - the menu is sparse and so is its decor: 

As simple as it gets
But, as in Malaysia, it isn't about how the place looks (some of the best meals can be found without any kind of roof or shelter at all), but about the quality of the food.  I would usually order the chicken rice when I go to Tak Chee (it's pretty much the best I've had in Perth, aside from my mum's of course! haha) but this time I thought for a change I'd try some of their other dishes.

Char kway teow - $14
I had heard that the char kway teow is really good here so we ordered the seafood version and asked for it  to be hot (in terms of spice level).  The waitress warned us that medium is already hot, but we insisted.  Just as well - in terms of heat I'd probably rate it about a 6/10.

While it was one of the better versions of this dish I've had in Perth, it's still not as good as I've had in Penang or KL.  It was very oily, not salty enough (we added soy sauce), I would've liked more of a smokey/ashy flavour, some blood clams would've been nice too and most importantly, where were the little crispy croutons of pork lard??  For this dish, you must choose authenticity over diet, otherwise it's just another plate of fried flat rice noodles.  Maybe I'm just nit picking though, for all of my griping it wasn't bad,  and to be fair it's probably as good as you're going to get in Perth.

I was in KL in July and for breakfast we had RM$1 roti canai (which, even overpriced by their standards, is still incredibly cheap for us).  The rotis were huge and incredibly filling.  They come with a small bowl of dal, though you could probably ask for another type of curry (you'd pay extra) if you like.  

Roti canai with chicken curry - $12
This roti canai cost me $12 and the bowl of curry (I was given the option of chicken or beef) was bigger than the bread!  Don't get me wrong - I'm happy to pay $12 for a dinner meal, but I would have been happier if the roti was twice the size and the curry was half as much (hell, I would've been happy with a tiny bowl of dal).

The curry was nothing special.  The roti, however, was really fluffy and buttery and rich.  My recommendation if you order this dish is to spend the extra $3 and get a second piece.

We finished the meal with shared ice kacang.  It was HUGE!  3 of us couldn't finish the whole thing (to be fair, 2 of us had also had a large glass of teh tarik each - very creamy, sweet and strong. I liked it!).

Just be careful, though, we asked for no peanuts but right at the bottom we found raw peanuts.  Luckily it was a request due to choice not necessity, so no epipens were needed, but anyone with nut allergies should be careful to have friends check for nuts before dipping in.  Their version of ice kacang also includes raisins which I found to be a bit odd.  I'd trade the raisins for palm seeds any day.

In short, the meals are pretty cheap ($40 all up for the char kway teow, roti canai, ice kacang and 2 teh tariks) and I think it's as close to authentic Malaysian dishes as you will find in Perth - unless you go to my mum's house! hahaa  My recommendation would be to stick to the chicken rice and maybe the fried bean sprouts with salted fish and you won't go wrong. 

Tak Chee House on Urbanspoon

The highlight of my evening, however, was finding an asian bakery still open at 8pm that sold mooncake, but not just any mooncake, my favourite - red bean with 2 yolks!  I don't know why, but I feel like every year it gets harder and harder to find mooncake with redbean filling (everyone wants to be fancy with their green tea, pandan and lotus fillings but not me, I'd take good ol' el cheapo redbean over the others any day), and even when I do, I'd be lucky to even have one yolk, much less 2!

So I bought a whole box.  And I'm not sharing hahahaha

Mooncake: how do I love thee? let me count the ways
Happy mid-autumn festival all!

1 comment:

  1. Hi guys,though to share my wonderful experience in perth. I stayed and rent a car from a malaysian holiday home. Owner originally from kl.very good service and well equipped holiday bungalow with affordable rates. U can call 0123360098 .owner daughter is here in kl.she arranged everything so well for us.thumbs up!!!December 26, 2013 at 8:31 PMAdd profile picture