Coming from a family with a rather sickening obsession for food, it means that we are always on the lookout for new places, new dishes or new variations on flavours we’ve come to love. I have an ever growing wishlist of venues to try – it’s only because of time, budget and the fact that I can only eat so much that it doesn’t ever seem to shrink!
Heading our for breakfast with my boy one morning, we also invited my mum as she’s always keen to try new places (like mother, like daughter). In a small cottage just off the main strip in Victoria Park sits a little venue open on Saturdays and Sundays called The Sarapan. Sharing the same site as the weekly lunch venue, J Benton, it’s a small restaurant, simply decorated with bright light pouring in through the windows. I quite like the idea of a share venue, with different chefs running the show at different times in the week. Previously Wicked Satays were there at night, however I think they’ve closed now.
We arrive on a Saturday and to my surprise the venue is only half full – I think the word is still getting out there for this place. Since the weather is quite lovely we sit out the front, enjoying the sunshine and light cool wind.
The menu is simple, with a few Malaysian dishes and a couple Western to choose from. You order and pay inside at the counter – cash only. Once we’ve placed our orders, the food comes out relatively quickly as it’s made.
Sitting outside we miss all the delicious smells that tend to waft out of kitchens (especially ones that serve curry!) but we’re all enjoying the outing together. Soon enough, food starts to come out as it’s ready.
First up is the roti canai ($5.00) which is crispy flatbread freshly made to order served with dahl sauce with sambal and chicken curry. You can also elect to add egg for 50c. Talk about some pretty great prices! The roti is ethereally light, flaking apart with ease. I like the rustic look, though I think presentation wise the little bowls probably should have been wider for easier dipping. That said, I particularly enjoyed the dahl which was spiced, salty and flavoursome.
The nasi lemak ($11.50) is fragrant coconut rice with fried spiced chicken, sambal, anchovies, peanuts, slices of cucumber and boiled egg. The boy and I especially love nasi lemak and so I was eager to try The Sarapan’s version.
The rice has a nice flavour, however I would have liked the coconut/pandan flavour upped in intensity to match some of the incredible nasi lemaks we had in KL last visit. The sambal is sweet but spicy, working well with the other ingredients – especially those crisp little anchovies and crunchy peanuts. The cucumber and egg are just right to cleanse the palate with.
The fried chicken was steaming hot, juicy and tender inside. The spice on the outside of the chicken is flavourful and golden, bringing some contrast and taste to each bite. The chicken skin has a nice little crunch in some sections – so good! We all pull it apart, completely devouring it as we let little billowing clouds of steam escape our mouths.
From the western dishes on the menu comes out the potato rosti and smoked salmon ($16.00) which is served with avocado, slow roasted tomatoes, two sous vide eggs, hollandaise sauce and salad.
The sign of a good potato rosti is a crisp inside and slightly soft inside so you get the perfect contrast of texture. This one was crunchy all the way through which is better than being soggy, but it was a little on the dry side. The eggs are soft from the sous vide process, and while the yolks are orange, they were liquid. No egg goo satisfaction sadly.
For me, this dish didn’t shine anywhere near the Malaysian ones.
We finish things off with a couple extra pieces of fried chicken ($3.50) since we finished off the piece with the nasi lemak a little too quickly. They come out with some dollops of ketchup and barbecue sauce for dipping. A little unconventional for Malaysian style chicken, but the barbecue sauce goes particularly well with the piping hot pieces of meat.
They’re a good way to end our meal at this little neighbourhood pop up and a nice way to punctuate an outing out with my loved ones.