Monday, January 18, 2010

Old Town Kopitiam Mamak, QV, Melbourne

Owing to the success of the Oldtown White Coffee franchise in Malaysia, several operators have decided to capitalise on this fact and open their own stores overseas, and there's certainly no lack of them from the looks of it. I'm tempted to call it blatant 'plagiarism', but I guess name coincidences are bound to create conflicts, such as the famous McCurry vs Mc Donalds case over the prefix 'Mc'.

Over here in Melbourne, its called Old Town Kopitiam, and they've recently opened another franchise in QV : Old Town Kopitiam Mamak. Whether its the "most authentic Malaysian restaurant" is certainly debatable, so we decided to put it's claim to the test last Sunday during lunch hour. There was certainly a whole lot of customers, mostly asian (specifically Malaysian / Singaporean), so we had to wait a while to be seated.

While the website states that the interiors of the cafe include Malaysian old school furniture, it's no different than current Malaysian cafes located in our shopping malls. If we really wanted to be old school, we'd be using fans, rickety plastic stools / tables with Dunhill posters of sexy women on the walls, etc. What I mean is, the definition of current cafes are a little too polished for my taste. But ah well, this is the way of the future I guess.

Back home, the RM2 / AUD 0.65 3 layer teh-si-peng drink (iced tea) is a favourite of mine. I didn't get to try it at this place, but I presume its satisfactory.

The famous white coffee that originated from Ipoh, a town in Malaysia. I hope they've successfully replicated the legacy here in Melbourne.

Cincau jelly with soya bean drink. Aptly nicknamed Michael Jackson at times for obvious reasons.

In Malaysia, mixed rice / nasi kandar is still very popular, but it's getting expensive especially in large shopping complexes (eg. RM 10 in KL low cost terminal). I chose the sambal prawns, chicken kurma and curry beef to go with the rice, which comes with a complimentary indian cracker / papadum and two measly slices of cucumber. Is it worth AUD 11? I guess not, but thats how the food industry here works.

Pan Mee (dry base), AUD 9.90. It's basically noodles with minced pork and fried onions in a dark soy gravy sauce.

Good ol' roast chicken rice. I guess its presentation could be done better for a dish that's AUD 9.90

Hainanese chicken rice. Unfortunately there wasn't any aroma of pandan emanating from the chicken.

Maggie Mee Goreng. AUD 8.50. Instant noodles stirfried with fish cake, fried egg, chicken and other kitchen leftovers make this an instant hit at mamak stalls.

Mee goreng (stirfried noodles) malay style. AUD 9.90. Changing two ingredients - yellow noodles and the prawns make this dish slightly more expensive.

We also tried the roti canai (not photographed). The roti was a bit thin, and I reckon the two sauces (curry and sweet belachan) were not really up to scratch.

If there's one dish that impressed, it's the curry chicken laksa , AUD 9.90. It's broth is thick and flavourful, much better than Singapore Chom Chom up Bourke st.

Overall a nice establishment to visit if you'd like Malaysian food in a convenient location in the CBD (corner Swanston and Lonsdale st), though its slightly expensive price doesn't really reflect the quality of food over there. Nonetheless, I'm sure they'll continue to make a killing.

Despite the craze for mamak food in West Malaysia (or Melbourne for that matter) I'm not a huge fan, really. Sorry la, 1Malaysia. For me, an RM 2.50 / AUD 0.80 bowl of kolo mee from Kuching will always be my first choice, anytime.


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