I love Malaysian food – earthy curries, flaky roti, chewy noodles, rich coconut milk, great ways with seafood, chicken and beef … and that’s before we even start talking about pork trotters, durian and other things not quite to my taste, but which my husband, Franz, adores! It’s the original multi-cultural cooking, with its blend of Malay, Chinese, Indian and the unique Nonya and Mamak cuisines that grew out of this fusion. Here are the best Malaysian restaurants in Sydney, the places I go to get my Malaysian fix.
Chinta Ria Buddha Love Sydney
Simon Goh is the master of fun food, cool jazz and great surrounds – and the retro feel of his latest Chinta incarnation, complete with 3-metre high Buddha, is no exception. I can’t resist the smoky char kway teow, Ella’s wrap (deep-fried prawn mince-stuffed prawns) and tangy Satchmo’s squid.
Peranakan Place Auburn
On my last visit ‘Uncle Sam’ Wong proudly told me that the display of servingware in this neat, casual eatery came with his family from Singapore “43 years and 7 months ago”. This is my spot for succulent simple Hainanese chicken rice, and rich babi pongteh, a stew of pork belly and trotters, chestnuts and shiitake.
Temasek (an ancient name for Singapore) has been a fixture in Parramatta for over 20 years. Enjoy excellent, oily, falling-apart-tender beef rendang (you’ll need plenty of roti to soak up the gravy), belacan kangkung (water spinach) and lemongrass prawns. Pre-order the fish head curry, and save room for ice kacang to finish.
Cooks deftly tossing roti in the front window keep queuing crowds entertained at this popular city restaurant. Order thin charcoal-grilled skewers of chicken, with excellent satay sauce, by the dozen … you’ll eat more than you think! And try murtabak, flaky roti filled with meat, egg and onion.
Nan Yang Malaya Macquarie Park
The predominantly Singaporean and Malaysian expat customers suggest this casual diner is the real deal. Startlingly blue coconut rice (nasi kerabu, coloured with butterfly flower) with pickles, salted egg, chilli sauce and other condiments is a wonderful one-plate meal topped with satay, sambal or excellent chicken curry. Order a day ahead for mud crab with a selection of traditional sauces. Beer selection is good and, though it’s not obvious from the small list, wines are from interesting producers.
Updated 5 February 2023