What is Island Dreams?
A café serving Christmas Island and Cocos Islands cuisine. Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands are both territories of Australia, with populations of 1,400 and 600 respectively. Located halfway between Perth and Sri Lanka, the region's cuisine is broadly Malaysian-based, with influences from Indonesia, India and China.
What's it like?
Aquamarine walls, seashells and paintings of frangipanis will settle you into island-time at this relaxed and cosy café in the middle of Lakemba. A bain-marie of hot foods provides fast food for locals, or you can order from the menu. You'll find families and couples at lunchtime, but by night it's a popular spot for Somali locals who congregate over tea in-between prayers.
What should I order?
House-made roti ($2 each) is mandatory - it's a crisp and buttery flatbread that is cooked fresh and best savoured with scoops of curry sauce. Martabak ($7.50) is the filled version - flaky roti wrapped around a mixture of egg, shallots, grated onion and bean sprouts, which is a meal in itself. Island lemon chilli chicken ($9.50) or ayam panggang, is another house specialty: bone-in chicken doused with a complex sauce made from a secret blend of spices that includes ground coriander seeds, cumin seeds and whole chillii. It's a family recipe from owner Alimah Mohd's grandmother. Regular Malaysian dishes include mee goreng fried noodles, mee rebus curry noodles, beef rendang and homemade curry puffs. Chilli fiends will revel in sambal udang ($15), fiery prawns cooked with fresh tomato, onion, chilli, tamarind and lemon.
Skip the teh tarik ($3.50), a tea-bag version of what should be a strong, sweet Malaysian frothy tea, and order the Somalian tea ($3.50) instead. It's a strong brew topped with foamed milk, flavoured with cinnamon. Takeaway bags of colourful fish crackers by the register are also worth investigating, the crackers made from scratch by Alima's family in Port Hedland, Western Australia. It's a labour-intensive, week-long process that involves fresh mackerel scraped by hand, ground and mixed with tapioca, boiled, refrigerated, sliced and then dried in the sun. The fish crackers are a revelation of flavour, and a small bag will set you back a mere $2.
|Venue name:||Island Dreams||Contact:|
47 Haldon St
|Opening hours:||Mon-Thu, Sun 10.30am-9.30pm; Fri-Sat 10:30am-11pm|