Whether your pick is spicy sambal, soupy laksa or sticky, hot AF Singapore chilli crab, Malaysian food has got it going on. Here’s where to get your roti on Sydney-style.
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The best Malaysian restaurants Sydney has to offer
Crowds of people congregate outside this Malaysian grillhouse in Haymarket (the original is in Strathfield), motivated in equal parts by hunger and optimism that they can find a seat inside this compact diner styled like a laneway street stall, with air fragrant with chilli, garlic and soy sauce. Order soft, pliant rolls of rice noodle cheong fun bobbing about in a creamy sea of coconut and chilli, plus the char koay teow, which is spectacular.
Is Alice Tan's char kway teow still the best in town? It certainly gives its competition a run for its moneybags. For one thing, Alice's version isn't halal, unlike many other top Malaysian places in town, which means it can be closer to the Platonic ideal of the original version of the dish cooked in Penang, with its little bits of crisp fried pork fat tossed through the noodles.
At this food-truck-turned-restaurant, you have to get the soft shell crab. It's a pile of ultra-fresh, crisp-edged crab surrounded by a pool of spicy, oily, tomato based chilli sauce and four little fried, crisp, fluffy mantou buns for swiping up all that sauce.
Believe the bib. When there are this many business workers prepared to wear a plastic bib at lunchtime, you know this is a laksa worth investigating. Weekday lunchtimes are always chaotic, with a queue of laksa lovers often trailing out the door. There are 11 laksa variations on the menu at Malay Chinese, but most punters stick with the standard chicken laksa or prawn.
The enormously popular Malaysian eatery tucked into a little pedestrian laneway in central Parramatta doesn’t go in for frippery or frills – they would only distract you from the flavours in your bowl, and they deserve your whole-hearted attention. The beef rendang will quiet all those tiresome people who come back from a Malaysian holiday only to moan about how nothing here compares.
Queues still snake outside this Chinatown cheap eat on a nightly basis. Roti canai here is a must – tear away bite sized bits of the fluffy piles of pastry and alternate dunking it between the three curries. Start with the gentle, nutty hum in the lentil curry, then step up to the fiery, fishy sambal before rounding it out with a rich, red chicken curry. Make sure you take a bite of the roti on its own to appreciate the buttery layers and crisp to soft ratio.
Don’t judge this restaurant by its cover. Jimmy’s Recipe may look like an innocuous little place hidden away in a CBD shopping complex, but their laksa is legendary. Opt for the chicken or beef variety and load up on chilli pastes, fresh corianders and spices. Great takeaway bowls are available too.
It’s cheap, it’s quick and for a couple of dollars more you get a bib for your laksa – trust us, with soup this fluorescent you’ll need it if you’re wearing anything other than a burlap sack. The nasi lemak (coconut rice, chicken curry, sambal, dried shrimp, boiled egg and cucumber) is served in a dinky segmented tray and there’s a different special for each day of the week. A sensational chicken curry has roti on the side and their laksa is three kinds of awesome.
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. Here, 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.
It's a tiny, blink-and-you'll-miss-it type cafe on screaming loud Harris Street in Ultimo. The roti is unbelievable, and they do all the usual Malaysian hawker favourites like chicken curry and roti or nasi lemak. Get your fix of Malaysian telly while you're at it.
This hawker-style restaurant has an open kitchen that'll fire up laksa, stir-fries, salt and pepper eggplant and a handmade butter roti (served with curry) so good, you won’t want to share them with anyone else. You'll also roll out of there with change from a $20 easily.
Albee’s is a welcome addition to the small Malaysian food scene where dishes cooked with a nod to authenticity are prized above location and water views. The menu is short and sharp, with set meals that are very popular with the predominantly Asian crowd.