Dining Review · Melbourne · Singaporean/Malaysian · Top pick

A Taste of Home

Despite living in a city that is a melting pot of cultures, I still find my local cuisine a little under-represented in Melbourne. I guess it can’t be helped that with my home country being a tiny red dot on the global map, it is inevitable that it is often being overshadowed by bigger Asian countries on the local cuisine map here.

But although it can be quite a challenge finding Singaporean food in Melbourne, I have managed to uncover some gems that do the Singaporean cuisine justice. Some of it are arguably more Malaysian than Singaporean, but hey, it does give me a taste closer to home, which is what matters more to me!

Bert’s Cafe

Looks nothing like a Singaporean hawker centre but it serves up Singaporean hawker fare alrite!
Looks nothing like a Singaporean hawker centre but it serves up Singaporean hawker fare alrite!

It looks more like an Aussie bread & bakery cafe but step inside and you’ll be hit by the Singaporean hawker food smells!

Fried Carrot Cake - $6
Fried Carrot Cake – $6
Hokkien mee - $9
Hokkien mee – $9

These are my 2 favourite dishes, only because they brought me closer to home with the authentic flavours. The carrot cake had the nice balance of the sweet black sauce and savouriness at the same time, with the crunchy bits of chai bo and smooth egg adding the right textures. It was just probably not as charred as I wanted. As for the Hokkien mee, I love the generous amount of prawn broth and how nicely cooked those noodles were, finished off with the nice oomph of chilli at the side!

Bak Chor Mee - $9
Bak Chor Mee – $9

I find it very hard to find a good bowl of bak chor mee outside of Singapore, which is why that is usually always the first dish that I go for when I land in Singapore. Andrew had recommended that this was the most authentic bak chor mee in Melbourne but I felt a little disappointed after trying this – there wasn’t enough of the pork lardy goodness and the chilli just didn’t taste the same. Oh well!

Char Kway Teow - $9
Char Kway Teow – $9

Same goes for the char kway teow – it’s so hard to find one with ham (cockles) outside of Singapore! So yeah that would be the only downside of the char kway teow at Bert’s Cafe. But if you haven’t tasted the one in Singapore, I would say that this is quite a decent plate of char kway teow as there is the right balance of flavours and I actually like how they have quite a good portion of veggies in it.

Chwee kueh (can't remember the price oops!)
Chwee kueh (can’t remember the price oops!)

This would actually be the most disappointing dish of the day. The chai po was a little sweet and the kueh was abit too moist. The chilli was also a little too salty so the balance of flavours and textures were all a little off for this dish.

Anyway, despite all these little grievances, I must say that Bert’s Cafe does a pretty good job in capturing the Singaporean cuisine. After all, these individual dishes would usually be sold at different hawker stalls in Singapore, of which the hawker cooks would have perfected the art of that one particular dish. So kudos to Bert’s for actually serving up quite a few authentic Singaporean dishes!

Bert's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Kotaraya 

Hainanese Chicken Rice - $10.50
Hainanese Chicken Rice – $10.50 (Photo credit: Ms JQ)

This place has a more Malaysian slant but it still does a good job of satisfying our cravings for good ol’ Chicken Rice.

Roast Chicken Rice - $10.50
Roast Chicken Rice – $10.50 (photo credit: Ms JQ)

The rice is quite authentic, being cooked with garlic and chicken oil. Not to mention the yummy chicken rice chilli. I also like how they serve up big juicy pieces of chicken which is actually quite un-Singaporean! In Singapore, true-blue chicken rice is served up with pieces of chicken that are not as large and tend to be a little drier. I guess this shows the difference in the type of chickens we get in Australia and Singapore and I’ve no complaints that the chickens here are a little fatter!

Kotaraya also serves up pretty good Curry Laksa but this is definitely our go-to place for Chicken Rice. Just be prepared to feel really full and sleepy after your chicken rice lunch as the oily chicken slowly digests in your stomach!

Kotaraya Oakleigh South on Urbanspoon

Malaysian Kitchen

Fish head noodles.. slurp!
Fish head noodles.. slurp!

As the name suggests, this place also serves up food more inclined to the Malaysian tastebuds than Singaporean. However, that still didn’t stop us from checking out this place one day to satisfy our fishhead noodles cravings!

The bowl of noodles that we got did not disappoint as the soup was full of flavour from the fish bones and had the right touch of milkiness. It was also authentic enough to have the fried pieces of fish complete with the bones immersed in the soup. I also liked the sour tang of the soup, as added by the tomatoes and kiam chye (preserved vegetable).

The only things that set us back was the distance of this place from our church (which is why we haven’t returned since this visit) and the price. With this bowl going at about $13 (from memory), that is certainly a little pricey to see us going back sometime soon.

Malaysian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

India Delights

I reckon they should rename their shop haha
I reckon they should rename their shop haha (photo credit: Ms JQ)

As the name does NOT suggest, this place is NOT about Indian, but pretty true-tasting Singaporean food!

This is pretty much our go-to place for our Singaporean food fix as it is fairly close to our church, the prices are reasonable, the staff are always accommodating to our large numbers and the menu has not disappointed so far 😉

Briyani rice with dishes - $9.50-10.50
Briyani rice with dishes – $9.50-10.50 (photo credit: Ms JQ)

The briyani dishes are always hot and ready to go, just like an authentic Malay-Indian stall that you can find in Singapore. The price ranges from $9.50 to $10.50, depending on how many meat and vegetable dishes that you choose. But man, no matter how many dishes you choose, this is 1 meal that will fill you to the brim. This can really feed 2 people, due to the generosity of the portions and the richness of the curries. We particularly love the eggplant curry and the beef rendang… yums!

Roti Chanai w/ curry, to be washed down by a cuppa of Teh Tarik!
Roti Chanai w/ curry, to be washed down by a cuppa of Teh Tarik! (photo credit: Ms JQ)

Well as we Singaporeans know it, this roti prata comes pretty close to the Singaporean version with the good balance of chewiness and crispiness at the same time. The curry is delicious as well. Of course, this still doesn’t quite match up to the local roti prata but this does hit the spot for a roti prata craving, especially when paired with that cup of teh tarikshiok!

And the funny thing is, this place does a pretty good plate of hor fun!

Surprisingly, the best hor fun I've found in Melbourne!
Surprisingly, the best hor fun I’ve found in Melbourne! (photo credit: Ms JQ)

We find it so interesting that an Indian restaurant does this Singaporean dish so well that we’ve nicknamed this restaurant ‘The Indian Hor Fun place’. Haha. The noodles are wok-fried well, giving that nice translucent look and charred aftertaste. The gravy is nice and eggy, with it not being overly starchy. The proportion of ingredients is also generous, with a decent amount of veggies, fishcakes, pork, prawns and squid. And they put in a nice touch of remembering to serve up a side of green chilli – win!

So folks, forget about Pappa Rich or Mamak – this is the real deal for Singaporean/Malaysian food at reasonable prices. Every time we step in here, it does bring us a step closer to home, which is a testament to how authentic the cuisine is here!

India Delights on Urbanspoon

So there you have it, a few places we’ve uncovered that have brought us a taste of home, in the city of Melbourne far away from home. So if you are looking for that sampler of Singaporean cuisine, you would know where to go now! And feel free to share other Singaporean/Malaysian restaurants as I would love to check them out!

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