Quirky Melbourne...

Best Malaysian Food in Melbourne

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The World Loves Melbourne loves Malaysian food from hawker style to more upmarket offerings. Here are our top 5 Malaysian restaurants in Melbourne:

1. Masak Ku

2. Blue Chillies

3. Mamak

4. Laksa King

5. PappaRich

 

1. Masak Ku - Burke Rd Camberwell

Masak Ku is a leading Malaysian restaurant in Melbourne, located in the upmarket precinct of Burke Rd Camberwell. When it comes to  your oft encountered "fast turnover" hawker style Malaysian restaurant Masak Ku is refreshing in that you can linger and imbibe without being rushed. Yes Masak Ku offers hawker options but the food is upmarket in style while resonating with authenticity. Masak Ku is perfect for couples, family dinners, and corporate team  functions as it embraces the Malaysian way of dishes designed to share. Owner and Head Chef Simon Lee is passionate to show Melbourne diners that Malaysian food can be well presented and served in an upmarket ambience at reasonable prices. 

The name Masak Ku means "my cooking" and there's an intimate touch about the whole experience with Head Chef Simon letting you in to his culinary world and the types of dishes he enjoys himself as owner/chef. His wife Mary is superb as front of house; engaging diners when you arrive and attentive to the tables during the meal, along with her well tuned team. The World Loves Melbourne was invited along to experience a degustation of Malaysian dishes; both traditional and non traditional.  We experienced warmth and friendliness, as well as a good deal of style and upmarket flavoursome cuisine.

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Note the chandelier and artwork; a point of difference. Also pictured above is a fabulous private upstairs dining area with long table.

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Masak Ku delights with it's tasty entrees including the Beef Curry Puff; house made crispy spiral pastry filled with curry beef and potatoes. The crispy pastry was high quality, with a compelling and generous quality filling of beef and potatoes a flavour and texture triumph. Also a hit is the Chicken 55 dish; succulent morsels of marinated chicken flash-fried then wok-tossed in a chilli spice mix with garlic. This dish was another crispy, packed with flavour and moorish. A side of Malaysian pickles adds extra kick.

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The Sticky Beef Short Rib is all sticky beef ribs should be; melt in your mouth intense flavours after having been cooked in master stock then char-grilled. These ribs are served with achar (Malaysian mixed pickles). Who doesn't like Beef short ribs?

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A highlight for The World Loves Melbourne is this Butter Soft Shell Crab dish; soft shell crab cooked in butter, curry leaves, chopped chillies, garlic, desiccated coconut and eggs. Almost decadent, this dish hits the mark with crispy exterior and soft interior, along with tang and kick of the chillies and curry leaves. We couldn't get enough of this despite the generous portion!

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Chilli and Szechuan Pepper Squid has the right amount of spice and heat, and Skewers are also top notch with compelling house made satay sauce.

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Duck is one of our favourite dishes when done well and the Fried Duck main at Masak Ku got our attention with Duck deboned and braised in master stock then lightly floured and flash-fried. We enjoy the idea of braising and flash-fried as the dish is not greasy or oily. This is about juicy flavoursome duck with nuances of the stock.

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Also juicy is the Kelantan Chicken marinated in a tamarind, turmeric and coconut milk mix and char grilled.

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A point of difference is the Roti; many Malaysians crave the roti of home and Simon serves up top notch roti with flaky buttery bread served with curry sauce. So rewarding.

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Masak Ku is known for standout shared fish dishes. A signature dish at Masak Ku is the Sambal Rainbow Trout; deboned whole fish smothered with house-made Sambal wrapped in banana leave parcel then char-grilled. Simply we each broke off tender smoky flakes of fish; a satisfying almost rustic Malaysian dish honouring traditional Malaysian cooking and the fruit of the sea and perfect for sharing at your group event. The Sambal flavours give the dish some welcome "kick".

Or enjoy the popular Lychee Fish deboned whole barramundi in it's sweet glory complemented with lychees and sweet and sour lychee sauce.

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The Spicy Pork Mince with Eggplant is another crowd pleaser stir fried in a chilli ground bean sauce. Masak Ku does not "dumb down" the spices; neither are they overpowering.

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Impressed by the entrees and mains, we were keen to try dessert. There's a sense of theatre about the House made ice cream platter, a show stopper. 

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Other outstanding desserts include the Purple rice with glazed banana (above) and the Mango sago pudding with pomelo (below). These desserts are compelling, refreshing, generous and well presented.

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For people looking for decent standout restaurants in the eastern suburbs the task can be difficult; Masak Ku ticks the boxes as a standout upmarket Malaysian dining experience. But not only the eastern suburbs, it's worth the drive across Melbourne to experience a warm rewarding Malaysian experience. We enjoy the classy precinct on Burke St and parking wasn't a problem near the restaurant. We've noticed a plethora of positive reviews on social media about this restaurant. Our experience resonates with the rave reviews.  


2. Blue Chillies - Fitzroy

Blue Chillies has celebrated sixteen years of livening up Fitzroy with their simple yet sophisticated Malaysian cuisine, friendly staff and cosy atmosphere. As a community of bloggers and their friends gathered in this restaurant (including Jessica from The World Loves Melbourne), there was anticipation for a unique take on Malaysian food. We weren’t disappointed!

Maybe it’s because you’re so hungry, but the first thing you sink your teeth into at a restaurant is always so satisfying, and the Black Pepper Soft-Shell Crab was very moreish. I asked the table in general if I was allowed to just swallow all of it but didn’t wait for an answer before I’d already downed the crab. No regrets.

The Whitebait and Sweet Potato Fritters with a chilli lime dipping sauce had a great crunch, perfect to offset the soft crab.

A red and white wine were served to us as well as a gin cocktail mix that we all commented tasted like childhood . . . with gin. The small, crowded restaurant had that awesome feeling like, “this is where the good stuff is” so they tried to fit as many chairs in as possible. A small window through to the kitchen is quaint, giving you a glimpse of the flurried activity inside.

This Rockling fillet dusted with potato flour and wok swirled in curry leaves, chilli, spices and buttered egg floss was probably my favourite dish of the night, mostly because of the egg floss, which was unlike anything I’ve tasted. I scraped the plate clean trying to pin down the exact flavour combination, but it was so well balanced that I couldn’t pick out one particular aspect.

If you like something refreshing with your meal, the Yee Sang Salad is a good option. A traditional salad of sashimi salmon with a variety of shredded crunchy vegetables in apricot plum sauce topped with roasted peanuts, it had an exciting textural variety and was served cold in contrast to most other dishes of the night.

The Duck Rendang was slow cooked with roasted coconut and Malaysian spices, fresh ginger-root garlic and chillies. As you would expect with something slow cooked, it was unbelievably tender.

Another standout was the King Prawns wrapped in fine strands of rice noodles, snap fried on a bed of tomato puree with pineapple and coconut milk. The pineapple added a fresh sweetness, while the tomato gave it acidity. Whoever thought of wrapping the prawns in fried noodles was a genius because that extra crunch really made the dish.

Blue Chillies’ Pork Ribs are wok roasted and marinated, then caramelised in chilli jam to give them amazing flavour. The chef pairs them with simple root vegetables to balance the flavour.

Thrice Cooked Duck in a blend of wild ginger flower, lemongrass, chillies and lime juice is a superb way to finish off a main meal at Blue Chillies, with rice on the side, of course. Crunchy outer layer, tender on the inside, this dish is filled with various oriental flavours to enjoy.

Nope. Not some kind of chocolate concoction. This Black Sticky Rice Pudding is a little more original for dessert, something The World Loves Melbourne appreciates about Asian restaurants. The coconut shavings on top and sweet milk at the bottom swirls together to create a sweet sensation in your mouth. A great way to end a meal. 


3. Mamak - CBD

There was plenty of action when we visited, probably like the streets of KL. Business people, students, couples, and a mix of nationalities were here enjoying Mamak. Very Melbourne. It was the kind of place you wanted to be - with an attractive ambience. The warmth of the conversation was nearly matched by the restaurant fit out - with large food and street scene photos mounted on the warm coloured walls. An open kitchen added to the action - in fact there seemed to be two preparation areas. Busy wait staff were run off their feet but showed good poise under pressure.

Mamak are famous in Sydney, now Melbourne, for their Roti dishes (masters of Roti), great Satay, Malaysian style fried chicken, classics like Mee Goreng and Nasi Lemak, and killer curries. This is a comprehensive menu with street food hawker kind of cuisine.

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Asking the waitress what to order we were recommended the Kari Ayam Chicken curry. Sounded simple. But we were delighted with the dish that followed. So glad it had a fair amount of kick from the freshly ground spices. Spicy bold flavours (so cool because some places water it down for Aussie palates). To us it seemed like a rendang syle and there were decent portions of tasty perfectly cooked and marinated chicken in the curry sauce, as well as rewarding chunks of potato. This baby had some heat... Which is why Mamak is authentic - staying true to how it should be.

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Full marks also for the decent portion of quality rice to accompany. Mamak have lunch specials which is a great thing value wise, but also they are geared for quick service even in a packed restaurant.

We noticed the authentic Malaysian drinks available and will try one next time.

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Mamak is an enjoyable Malaysian experience in the Melbourne CBD and is a great addition to this city. 


4. Laksa King - Flemington

Laksa King is a superb dining experience and one of the most popular and best value establishments in Melbourne. It's high popularity says it all. Voted as the best cheap eat in Melbourne. Aussies seem to love laksa, and you can imbibe in the Melbourne weather no matter if it's hot or cold. You feel like you've had something slightly exotic and it's large and full of flavour. It took us about 20 minutes to eat a laksa - it really is a hearty meal. 

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Laksa King is a welcoming place, right from when the friendly staff welcome you when you arrive. The fit out is smart and modern with grungy concrete floor, large naked frosty globe lighting, a row of bamboo and cool art work on the walls. The roof is a kind of red ochre colour and there are smart timber tables and chairs. Laksa King prides itself on being a well run operation and there are few obvious weaknesses.

Laksa King is obviously known for its laksa. We've been wanting to try the laksa since when working in Moonee Ponds where Laksa King was the talk of the town. The menu features Curry Laksa as the house specialty although there are many other menu options if you so desire. The waitress recommended the Combination Curry Laksa to me so that is what we ordered.

Some people compare the laksa here to what they have experienced in Asia. We've been to Asia many times but never had laksa there. I (David) lived with a Malaysian family earlier and life and can never remember having laksa. The only laksa I can compare it with is from the restaurants I've experienced in Australia.

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For The World Loves Melbourne, the laksa at Laksa King is superb. It gets a tick for flavour with so many fresh ingredients in one large bowl of laksa. I'm not sure how they can make a profit - it would cost us twice this much to try and make it at home. A large bowl of quality laksa for around $10 is amazing. But full marks for tasty juicy chicken chunks, large quality prawns, bits of fish, tofu, a large piece of eggplant, two kinds of noodles and a sublime coconut sauce.

Laksa needs to have a bit of kick and Laksa King delivers with just the right amount of chilli in the sauce. With cutlery at your table you can use the chopsticks for noodles and other ingredients and then scoop the sauce in the deep spoon. 

Overall we were extremely happy with the laksa at Laksa King. Presentation is superb and the laksa was delicious.

Next time we're in Asia we must eat some laksa and compare it to Laksa King. But right now we're going with the masses who love this place. 


5. PappaRich - various locations

PappaRich is a satisfying group of restaurants that brings quality Malaysian cuisine to our city. We have visited the CBD, Doncaster and our local is Nunawading (family enjoy the experience). Having lived with a foodie Malaysian family for a season in my life I am crazy about Malaysian food. The matriach in this family was kind of like a Mamma Rich as she was a great mamma cook and a rich Malaysian property investor. In any case this kind of cuisine is like comfort food to me...

Come here for satisfying Roti, Satay skewers, and delicious Laksa...

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PappaRich restaurants are busy and attract diners for their service, ambience and consistent quality cuisine. This is not 3 hat dining nor is it supposed to be. It's great to be greeted at the door and shown to a table. From there you record your order on the form. The options include rice dishes, soups, roti, noodles, vegetarian dishes and the like... 

I ordered the popular Chicken rice - sounds innocuous enough - but comes impressively presented with soft chicken pieces, large portion of tasty rice and salad on the side. Not to mention a thin chicken broth in a bowl.  The chicken was superb and so tender, and I loved the flavoured rice and the decent quantity. The little bowls of chilli and soy were also excellent. Fresh, flavoursome, well cooked and presented, and above all IT CAME OUT FAST... A winner.

PappaRich loves to steam things up in the open kitchen...

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Here is another view at PappaRich - well presented meal with waiters in uniform, modern fit out, open kitchen and well set out spacious restaurant. The addition of booths is also great for small groups. 

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Tags: Food