Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Review: The Malaya, King Street Wharf

One can never have enough excuses to go out to eat. If you're anything like me, then the "my birthday" excuse can never be used too many times.

For me, after waking from the Etch-induced food coma, I headed towards The Malaya at King Street Wharf to feast myself in an evening of luscious Malaysian cuisine.

The scene was perfect, albeit a little cloudy - but the gentle lapping of the waves outside were more than enough to produce a wonderful calm and beautiful evening out of the grey.

Service here was highly attentive and professional. I must confess that I did feel a little rushed by the waiter, but to be fair we knew we only had a 1.5hr booking (December babies have to always duke it out with Xmas parties at restaurants), and at the pace we were going, we wouldn't have even managed to start ordering before the time was up.

San Choy Bao - $18 (per serve of 4)

Not long after we ordered, our entree arrived steaming hot and bursting with flavour. Despite being a "Westernised" dish, I could seriously not care less when we ordered this because I just absolutely adore devouring a well plated San Choy Bao. The lettuce was crisp and fresh, cut neatly to form a near-perfect circle to wrap the spicy wok-fried mince filling.

Once the table was cleared for the mains, our mini banquet proceeded to take shape fairly quickly. Dish after dish were brought up to our table and we happily lined them down the long table for sharing. We were kindly informed by the staff that rice was charged per head, which meant the boys could eat to their hearts content and refill until their stomachs burst. It most certainly brought a smile to everyone's face.

Mee Goreng - $22

I'm usually no fan of the REAL meegoreng, preferring the fake, MSG-coma-inducing packet stuff. This one here was an exception, and definitely worthwhile for the meegoreng lovers out there.

Chicken Rendang (Dry Coconut Base) - $25

Beef Rendang (Tomato Base) - $25

Beef Rendang (Dry Coconut Base) - $25

So you may be wondering how on earth we ended up with three different Rendang dishes? Truth be told I have no idea, except that we each ordered one dish and this is how it turned out. The dull side of things is that we did end up with three Rendang dishes, but the bright is that I LOVE rendang, which was why I chose the Beef Rendang in Dry Coconut Base pictured above. There's an added bonus in that this also provided the perfect opportunity to conduct some surveying of taste palates and comparative studies.

My findings?

There was a consensus that the Dry Coconut Base outstriped the Tomato base by two lengths of a horse. However we were evenly split between chicken lovers and beef lovers. I'm an avid beef rendang lover, and no amounts of moist chicken could trump that. So I'm a little biased going in to make the judgement that: Beef Rendang in Dry Coconut Base wins!

Nasi Goreng - $19

Emperor Nasi Goreng - remember the Telstra ad? - Undoubtedly another usual favourite making an appearance. I love the freshly wok-fried taste that the rice somehow captures during the cooking process. It's one of those things that you have no choice but to eat out for because unless you have a commercial sized wok burner at home, there is no simple way of replicating that somewhat smokey flavour in home cooking.

King Prawn Laksa - $24

DW distributing the laksa

Laksa - a regular DW favourite - and possibly the reason why I eat Laksa at work 95% of the times when I work with DW.

As you can see in the pictures, the prawns were bursty and large, no doubt soaked in a lot of bicarb. But you know what? It tasted great, and I was too sad that there wasn't enough broth to share around all the individual bowls.

Chicken Kapitan - $25

Prawn Kapitan - $29

Much like the Rendang, we also ended up ordering 2 different Kapitan dishes. Prawn wins hands down, and the consensus was that it was the best dish on the night. The lightly battered prawns were soft and fully soaked up the sweet and spicy flavours of the coconut curry sauce. The prawns were much like the ones in the laksa - large, sweet and bursty with every bite.

This is on my list of recommended dishes - something which you MUST try if you ever visit.

Overall, The Malaya may be a bit pricey for Malaysian food - but you really do get what you pay for. Excellent and attentive service, delicious food, and a great view for an extra pizzazz. It may not be Temasek, but heck I wouldn't mind coming back here again.

The Malaya
39 Lime Street
King Street Wharf
Sydney NSW 2000
Tel: (02) 9279 1170


  1. glad you enjoyed the food although i'm not a fan of the westernised overpriced Malaya. i'm wondering if you spotted any other Asians in the restaurants besides the chefs? my family and relatives were the only ones when we visited for dinner. it does have nice decor and decent service although i think the food is very overpriced, but then again it is the tourist strip of town so rents would be very high as well :-) BTW what does bicarb of soda do to prawns?

  2. Ohh I haven't been back to Malaya for ages!
    Too much Mamak-ing LOL

    ughh, this post is making me crave for Malaysian.

  3. @Simon: I agree with you in that the place is VERY pricey, and there were indeed very few Asians. But I think you do have to pay a premium for the nice views and service the place provides - and sometimes for something like a birthday dinner, it's just that little extra you'd pay to make it special.

    And soaking prawns in a bicarb soda solution gives the prawns that bursty, crunchy texture that you often find in Asian restaurants. They also add it into the meats sometimes as well.

    @Yas: Oh my goodness. Don't even mention Mamak. I think it brings tears to my eyes everytime I think of it. Can't wait to go back. I just wish there was a way to get around the queues =[

  4. i love taking steam shots!

    how cool at making your own sanchoy bao (personally i like to pile things up if its self serve hee hee)

    thats alot from the laksa bowl (4 servings) andyes shame about the broth cos i adore laksa broth i finish off everything when i order it down to the last sip hehe

  5. Looks lovely, and go the extended birthday celebrations! The thing about King Street Wharf restaurants is that they can have inflated prices. Not so much a problem when the food is good and you can acknowledge the view comes at a premium, but so disappointing when the food falls short.

  6. @Betty: Actually we got about 9 bowls out of the laksa bowl, so it was a pretty big bowl. Sadly there just wasn't enough broth to go around.

    @madamoiselle delicieuse: I agree with you. There are definitely a few places I wouldn't bother returning to for the very reason that you're only paying for the views. At the end of the day, it's the food that matters the most.

  7. hmmmm it is indeed a bit pricey but if the great food compensates for it then why not? Everything looks soooo delicious I can't pick out which one is the most appetising!