Sunday, November 25, 2012

Malay Village, Haymarket [CLOSED]

Previously known as More Cha Cha, it was changed recently and is now owned under the Mamak Village Restaurant Group. It is interestingly placed right across the street from the much busier Mamak (no relation) but MT has recommended us this place and we cannot be bothered with the Mamak lines this time. We got a table, ordered and received our food very quickly within 10-15 minutes. But how does it fare with the neighbourly competition?

The menu has the usual Malaysian traditional food like nasi lemak and various rotis and some of the lesser known but equally loved dishes like the Penang Chicken Rice. We ordered the roti canai (plain, original) and the roti Hawaii (filled with chicken, cheese, tomato sauce, and pineapples; topped with mayo). The roti canai was a bit dense and crumbly in some parts while the roti Hawaii was presented with the word Malay Village written in mayo on top of the flat roti - which is quite pretty. It actually tasted similar to a Hawaiian pizza with all those fillings especially with the tomato sauce and cheese - just with chicken instead of ham. Although I prefered Mamak's roti canai mainly for its light and fluffy texture, we were amazed by the entertainment by one of the staff members spinning the roti around in the middle of the restaurant as if he was throwing a pizza dough. 

Roti Canai

Roti Hawaii

The first thing that came into my mind when I saw the Penang Chicken Rice on the menu was Haianese Chicken Rice. It looked a bit similar but with grilled chicken instead of boiled chicken. It looked well presented, refreshing to eat, and MT seemed to enjoy it. Will try it next time.

Penang Chicken Rice  

I didn't mind this main dish mainly for the pull-apart beef. It certainly was useful when I mopped up the excessive curry with the roti canai. It was a lot for me to finish as I already ate some roti. Ended up ordering a side of coconut rice to pour the curry on top. I would recommend eating this dish on an empty stomach as it gets filling very fast even without the rice.

Beef rendang curry

Coconut rice

One of the signature dishes from the Penang region, CC thought it was a decent dish though quite spicy.

Penang Char Koay Teow Kerang

Not sure if D enjoyed this dish. Wouldn't mind scopping up the curry sauce with the roti but otherwise, it didn't catch my immediate attention with the presentation.

Nasi Lemak Istimewa 

The staff themselves were friendly and patient when most of us left to get money from the closest ATM. The layout is more spacious with the inclusion of the outdoor courtyard. Is it better then Mamak? To be honest, I still prefer the roti at Mamak. But if you are impatient with the lines and you are craving for Malaysian cuisine with the option of outdoor seating; I would suggest this as they do offer similar food but with more unusual choices from the Penang region if you are curious to try anything new.

Malay Village
Shop 87, 1 Dixon Street
Darling Harbour NSW 2000
(02) 9264 4780

Malay Village on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Xanthi, Sydney CBD [CLOSED]

Thanks to my visit to Greece, I was craving for Greek food since coming back to Sydney. Thought that a visit to Xanthi would be a good start as there are heaps of items on the menu that I am very keen to try.

Xanthi's layout is very elaborate like a fine dining restaurant but with reasonable prices. Pretty much the entire menu is shared-based so you can get full at just 2 small dishes alone. Their serving sizes are fairly huge as well. When you enter inside, you cannot help but be amazed at the gold curtains draped across the ceilings like a tent. The lighting was dim so it was a bit of trouble taking photos (and I left my camera at home so it was up to the trusty iphone!).

We started with vine leaf dolmathes, which are vine leaves stuffed with rice, veggies and herbs and covered with egg lemon sauce. This is one of my favourite Greek foods that I remember trying back in Corfu and this was no exception to how much I enjoyed it. The rice and vine leaves are well cooked enough to enjoy and the creamy sauce made it taste even better. Definitely keen on making this at home!

Vine Leaf Dolmathes

I normally wouldn't order haloumi but many of my friends are big fans of this cheese so I gave it a go. And it was an order I did not regret at all. The cheese was smoky, chewy and charred to our liking and topped with chopped tomatoes, spring onions, figs and a side of lemon. These accompaniments help to balance the flavours once the smokiness begins to overpower the dish.

Barbecued Haloumi

One dish that we did end up regretting (considering how much we ordered...) was the polenta chips. They did taste very delicious with the crumbly yet soft-in-the-inside polenta, but it got so filling that it made us struggle with the mains. And man those chips were huge!

Feta and dill polenta chips

Thankfully, the mains took a while to arrive to our table.We couldn't help but gaze at how beautiful the pork belly baklava dish looked. It is a rich dish with the amazingly crispy, twiced-cooked pork belly; the sweet and flaky pastry; and the even sweeter filling of dates and pistachio nuts with date sauce. It looked small at first but it ends up being a mouthful that I would recommend this to share for sure or if you only intend to buy one dish here. 

Pork Belly Baklava

The same can be said for our other main dish - the lamb skaras, which is a slow braised lamb shoulder marinated in paprika and garlic. We struggled again by this point but kept going as the lamb was tender, delicate, flavoursome and slow cooked to perfection. The texture of the meat was delicate, soft and juicy. It is the ideal meal to have on a cold winter night.
However, the potatoes were too much for us to handle but the lemon oregano brought out the zesty flavours to something that would have otherwise been plain.

Lamb Skaras

We were just too full but CC the dessert girl went crazy upon seeing the desserts especially when seeing anything with caramel. We ended up sharing the caramel baklava ice cream - another favourite from the night. It is presented to us in 3 thick slices of vanilla bean ice cream filled with pistachio nuts and baklava along with a dollop of caramel sauce - looking similar to an ice cream sandwich. I did not expect to enjoy it as much but man it was one of the best desserts I've had! Every incredibly sweet component is a match made in dessert heaven: both in taste, texture and presentation.

Caramel Baklava Ice Cream

The service is decent on the night with reasonable prices and it is hard to believe that this is situated in a Westfield Shopping Centre. On the Tuesday night we went, it is already very busy so it's best to come early or make a booking. We never learn our lesson with ordering too much but despite that, it was a tasteful and eye-opening feast especially since we don't eat as much Greek food. If I knew about David Tsirekas' previous restaurant, Perama, I would have been keen to check it out as well. The plates can be very filling even on one dish alone, so if you want to try as much as possible, bring at least 2 very hungry friends.

Level 6 Westfield, Cnr Pitt Street Mall & Market Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9232 8535
Monday–Saturday: 11am–3:30pm, 5pm–11pm
Sundays: 11am–8pm

Xanthi Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon