A taste of modern Malaysian fare has lodged itself in the heart of Sydney’s second CBD
PappaRich is designed as a modern version of the traditional Malaysian kopitiam (coffee shop). But it's not just the sugary coffee that diners at the Parramatta outlet are queuing for: this is where to get your nasi lemak and laksa fix in what is now Sydney’s second CBD.
The eatery, located outside the bus concourse, is crowded with commuters, local business people, and a significant number of Malaysian Australians, which is always a good sign. Given there are now seven PappaRich outlets in Sydney, it seems they’ve hit on a formula for success – affordable, no-frills hawker-style food and drinks.
The high-ceilinged space meets the PappaRich design brief: it’s all dark wood panelling and splashes of gold and green, with framed photographs adorning the walls, a galley-style kitchen that offers ringside seats of the roti master at work, and bare tables with boxes of cutlery and a notepad and pen so you can attend to your own order. We do as the waiter suggests and mark off the roti canai and curry sauce, nasi lemak and chicken rice: classics all round.
The Hainanese chicken has been so gently poached it trembles to the touch and is served in a dipping sauce fragrant with chilli, ginger, sesame oil and soy sauce. What we love about this dish is the gelatinous texture of the chicken skin, which is offset by the crunch of fresh cucumbers and a beautifully textured bean sprout salad. The chicken is served with a mound of fluffy warm rice, but is let down by the accompanying chicken soup that lacked seasoning.
We perk up again when the pillowy squares of paratha arrive with a briny sambal, earthy dhal and fiery curry sauce. In dredging the flaky, crisp, layered roti through the different sauces we are transported straight back to the Straits of Malacca. Another street food favourite is the nasi goreng (‘fried rice’) which has the expected kick of heat in the sambal but is let down by the oiliness of the fried chicken and a flaccid pappadum. Next time, we’ll just order the fried rice special, which includes a fried egg, scoop of sambal and cooling slices of cucumber and tomato on the side.
The box of cutlery has a button for getting the attention of the waiter, and it was very nearly deployed during our futile search for serviettes – make sure you are locked and loaded before you start eating. Oh, and about that playlist of '50s crooners? You’ll pray for them to crank it if only to drown out the dreaded bing-bong that sounds every time someone enters the dining room.
PappaRich is a good pitstop for a quick informal feed after bustling about Westfield Parramatta and the franchise has garnered a loyal following. Smart diners will arrive well ahead of the lunchtime rush.
Shop 2185A - Zone G, 159-175 Church St
|Opening hours:||Sun-Thu 11am-9.30pm; Fri, Sat 11am-10pm|