Pappa Rich Malaysian Delights, Broadway

I walk past Pappa Rich every day, and for some time I had been curious.  It has a silly name.  It is always full at 5:00pm.  The size and décor of the place doesn’t suggest ‘cheap student grub': it looks like a hotel lobby, yet one curiously filled with young Asian student types eating very early dinners.  Curious.

Then I started seeing it being frequently and favourably reviewed.  It appeared to be a very authentic Malaysian franchise, of a standard decidedly above cheap student nosh, but still inexpensive.  And with lots of vegetarian options, which is handy when we dine with the Sisters Ray and their partners, one of whom is a vegetarian.

So we went on a mission on a Friday night. This involved waiting in a queue, but only for about 10 minutes, which is how long it took our party to arrive and assemble.  Everyone in the queue apart from us could have been Malaysian, so it’s obviously good if it’s attracting a home crowd who are prepared to wait in a queue on a cold Friday night, some with small children and strollers.   Note: it is an alcohol-free restaurant, so no booze for sale nor BYO.  (Hubby and I had a few cheeky pre-dinner ciders and dark beers at The Little Guy on Glebe Point Road.)

The ordering system is very cute: everything on the menu has a code, and you write the code and quantity on the chit provided then press a buzzer.

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We chose a variety of exciting non-alcoholic beverages, all of which were extremely sweet but some of which were legitimate thirst quenchers (Lemon Tea; Lychee Soda) whilst others were really just pudding-in-a-glass.  I had one from the latter category: Malaysian Favourite #34, ‘Ice Blended Bandung (Rose Syrup with Soya Milk) with Grass Jelly’.  It was THE most pink, girly thing you could imagine, and tasted very much like hand cream – but somehow in a good way.  The sorbet element was particularly nice; the sweetness was a welcome offset to the salty and chilli-laden food; and the grass jelly was herbal and interesting and fun to slurp through the fat straw.

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Pretty In Pink

The non-vegetarians shared a platter of Fried Chicken Skin (why not?!) and we all shared a few rounds of Roti Canai – the gorgeous Malaysian bread which is simultaneously fluffy and flaky, served with a thin curry sauce, a chunkier one (both vegetarian), and a chilli sambal.  The Fried Chicken Skin was predictably moreish and heart-attack inducing (best shared between at least six people) and great to dip in the sauces once we’d finished the roti.

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I’m not really a fried chicken fan. But you couldn’t not order this, it was too enticingly ridiculous.

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Roti-ripping action!

My choice of main was Noodle #12, Ipoh Koay Teow Soup or rice noodles in a fragrant chicken and prawn broth (no coconut cream here) with poached chicken breast slices and several plump prawns, plus bean shoots, chives, chillies and crispy things.  After the roti bread and crispy chicken skin, this was a filling yet much lighter option than the curries and laksas.  And sufficiently chilli-hot to help kill off my sinus infection, but without killing me off in the process!

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Everyone else had a rice dish: a Nasi Goreng (Malaysian fried rice with egg, chicken and prawns); three Biryani with Beef Rendang and Sambal Eggplant; the same but with Sambal Prawns instead of eggplant; and the intriguing vegetarian option of Biryani Rice with Vegetarian Curry Mutton.  This thankfully turned out to be tempeh, and our vegetarian friend was not unhappy with his choice.  I tried several mouthfuls of people’s fragrant biryani rice, with its warm earthy spice mix – yum!  The sambal eggplant was a winner too.  It was great to have a decent amount of vegetarian choice – our friend is very obliging but I feel he always gets slightly shafted with group meals.  (Also the meat is halal.  And they can do gluten free.  Various friends’ dietary requirements met!  Add to high rotation for group dining!)

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Various exciting beverages pictured, including the most decadent one, Pappa Delicious Concotion #3, ‘Matcha Rocks’: green tea soy milk with green tea ice cream and red bean paste.

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Our feast!

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We successfully ate all the fried chicken skin. Not sure if this is strictly an achievement or more a health concern.

Between the seven of us – with four shared dishes, a main each, and six crazy drinks – the total was $164.50!  I heartily recommend joining the Pappa Rich queue (or eating dinner at 5:00pm).  I am sure I’ll be returning soon to try more of the extensive menu and another excitingly unfamiliar beverage.

PappaRich Broadway on Urbanspoon

 

Dinner at Home: Everything Tastes Better

We had a lovely dinner recently with my parents, on a cold night in front of the fireplace in the formal dining room.  With a respectable bottle of Pol Gesner and a Tasmanian washed rind ‘Red Square’ squishy cheese to start.  Much good start.

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Mushroom risotto made from a wonderfully concentrated stock, home-made from two roast chicken carcasses. The roast chicken flavour was so rich and present. Almost didn’t need the mushrooms (but obviously they didn’t hurt).

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The mushrooms were cooked separately (in butter & olive oil) then added with final stir of stock.  Finish with a flurry of parmigiano reggiano and black pepper.

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Secondi! Fillet of beef cooked simply with a smear of mustard in a hot oven, and steamed French beans. The beans were stupidly expensive as they’re not quite in season, but they looked so pretty in the grocers and I wanted to contribute something nice to the dinner. I counted them as I was trimming them and worked out they cost just over 10c per bean. We thouroughly appreciated all 63 of them and none were wasted!

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Vintage Hunter Valley semillon goes with everything.

A Birthday BBQ in Balmain

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Don’t be misled by the skinny legs and much halloumi that this was some wimpy vegetarian affair with only a few token chicken drummers – there was a whole slow cooked pork belly and a goodly piece of lamb too.

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Plus brocollini and a baby kale & chickpea salad. (It is the Inner West after all.)

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The birthday cake was an amazing gelato creation from Messina. This what it would’ve started out looking like before it was valiantly carried in a box on a pushbike from Surry Hills to Balmain by the birthday girl’s dear boy.  And it was kept a surprise, too!  Awwwww ♥

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Messina: marvellous even when slightly melted!

Sultan’s Table, Enmore Road

Family Dinner at my second favourite Turkish restaurant, The Sultan’s Table on Enmore Road. #1 is Erciyes on Cleveland Street, but we weren’t heading in that direction.  The Sultan’s Table makes delicious, fresh food for very cheap, but it’s my silver prize because the seating is mostly outside in a drafty courtyard, and it can get pretty hectic with crammed-together plastic tables, large groups going to gigs at the Enmore Theatre opposite, and not always the optimum ratio of staff-to-diners.  Erciyes is a bit more upmarket, or at least somewhat less hectic – though they do have a belly dancer on Friday and Saturday nights!  But both places, whichever side of the inner city you’re at, are great for fun, filling, exceedingly economical food to share.

On this night we luckily scored the last table inside at Sultan’s, so dinner was a more civilised experience, which was nicer for the Aged Ps.  We also didn’t order the wonderful but dangerous mixed dips and bread to start, so we were actually able to enjoy the rest of our food rather than forcing it down having already stuffed ourselves with piles of Turkish bread and creamy hummous.  Smart move!  (Less smart was failing to get takeaway dip – damn.)

We spent a grand total of $52 between the four of us (!!!) for two huge pide, a kofte platter, and some stuffed vine leaves.  And couldn’t have eaten another thing… except for Mum’s cake in the last picture☺

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Pics from the website of the starter we sensibly eschewed. Irresistible and very filling. The carrot and parsley dips are a particular favourite.

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Stuffed vine leaves – there were four in the serving, but Dad doesn’t understand Food Blog Rules and swiped his immediately. These were a nice size and well flavoured but unfortunately fridge cold, which meant the rice was a little hard.  Obviously they make these in a giant batch, rather than to order, which is understandable.  Probably better for takeaway, as they’d soften up to room-temp on the journey home.

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The chaps in the kitchen making and baking the pide and bread fresh to order (and not shying away from a photo!).

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The breads and pide are served piping hot, straight from the giant oven to your table.  This is the ‘open-top’ kiymali pide with minced beef, tomato, peppers, onion and parsley.  The fresh tomato base was quite sweet, and the beef was seasoned with earthy spices.  It was a particularly good contrast to the salty, oily, cheesy delicious monstrosity below.

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My favourite folded pide, the sucuklu (‘soojookloo’): spicy Turkish sausage with a barely-set egg and cheese.  Like a super deluxe sausage & egg McMuffin.  The egg ‘steam bakes’ inside the dough, and its fluffiness mixes with the oozy cheese, all then held together by the superb salty, chewy crust.  Ultimate Comfort Food.  The surprise bites of oily, spicy sucuk sausage make this my very favourite type of pide, and the Sultan’s Table does it oh so well.

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Izgara Kofte: I have a sneaking suspicion these were lamb, and I don’t usually eat lamb.  But these were strongly spiced and seasoned and nicely rare in the middle and didn’t have that… lamb taste.  They might’ve been beef.  Whatever they were, they came with a tasty pile of salad and flatbreads – this dish was a winner!

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We continued the Middle Eastern vibe at home with Mum’s stunning quince and walnut spice cake (from that big stripey Stephanie Alexander book everyone has) and poached quinces.

Sultan's Table on Urbanspoon

Christmas in July (*August)

E and I cooked up a splendid Christmas feast almost entirely from scratch the other weekend.  It was meant to be ‘Christmas in July’ – apparently an Australian tradition, but one in which none of us had ever partaken – except Hubby was doing ‘Dry July’ so we had to put it off a week so the Bollinger could be enjoyed by all.  Our husbands and parents (and the butcher, and random nosey customers at the butchers) thought we were mad wanting to cook a giant ham for just four people.  BUT: we learnt a new skill, it was great fun, we got multiple Tupperware containers full of delicious leftovers, and the cost was no more than had the four of us gone out to a restaurant.  Plus at a restaurant you don’t get to loll about on the carpet after your meal and play beat everyone at Trivial Pursuits!

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Beautiful festive place settings, featuring ‘Strayan banksias for want of pine cones. (Not just because E thought the banksias were pine cones…)

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Why buy regular-coloured potatoes and beetroot when you can buy FABULOUSLY UNUSUALLY COLOURED HEIRLOOM VARIETIES from the fancy Everleigh Farmers Markets! The spuds were cooked à la The Commoner, in the juice/fat/skin/general tastiness from the bottom of the dish of a recent roast chicken dinner, which I’d saved and frozen.

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Pausing to refuel after kitchen prep with a buttery buche d’affinois, big chewy slices of Italian filone, heavenly smoked ocean trout rillettes by Brilliant Food, and the beloved Bolly.  (Comedy photo necessarily ensued.)

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OMG we baked 5 kilos of ham.  I am still so proud of us.  It was glazed with my mother’s homemade mandarin & grapefruit marmalade, studded with cloves, and sat in two cups of water with a few extra spoonfuls of marmalade.  Baked for 45 minutes at 180ºC, then basted with the liquid, then cooked for another 15 minutes or so.

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No one was allowed to eat until the food until we had captured it from several artistic angles.  E did a marvellous job with the festive table setting and the last-minute ham leg frill.

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A healthy rainbow of vegetable sides! Wilted Tuscan kale and rainbow chard with frizzled leeks & bacon (frying pan deglazed with a large splash of white wine); and a salade tiède of golden beetroots, butternut squash and Jap pumpkin with watercress & goats cheese, dressed simply with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and fancy Himalayan chilli salt.

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MERRY HAM TO ALL! And pinot. The pinot was R’s good choice: the Two Paddocks Picnic (2012) from Central Otago. Young, juicy, spicy. Most excellent with the ham.

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This was only the first course… (or first main course rather; the nibbles were a course in themselves!)

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…and then came the second course! A roast chicken with couscous, barberry and pistachio stuffing, plus the chicken-fat-roasted heirloom potatoes (just in case we needed more cholesterol).  I was pleasantly surprised that the spuds kept their different colours – I was convinced they’d all fade when cooked.

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The plum pudding was in fact the impetus for the dinner party: not just any plum pudding, but a competition-winning Aldi Specially Selected Luxury Champagne Christmas Pudding!  I’d bought it last Christmas but it didn’t get eaten (my Dad had bought an allegedly better one). Its ‘best before’ date was 31 July, so I suggested to E that we have a wintertime dinner party at eat the damn pudding at a seasonally appropriate time. Hello – Christmas in July! (Except it was actually 2 August. Pudding still tasted fine then, and I ate the reheated leftovers a few days later and didn’t die.)

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E made posh vanilla bean custard from scratch – so silky, very cream, much fancy! – and I brought the Rieslingfreak No.7 fortified Clare Valley Riesling (2009/10). Oddly enough we all found it a tad too spicy and not sweet enough, even though you’d think that’d be perfect with the Christmas pud, which was full of mixed spice, very sweet with all those whole glacé cherries, and surely needed a drier wine match. It certainly wasn’t horrid, just not what we’d hoped for – it was touted as a ‘white port style’ but the balance of spicy and dry didn’t seem quite right. The pudding was superlative though. Totally getting that one again in December regardless of Dad!