There’s a good swag of Asian eateries near where I work and I felt it was about time I started to check them out. One such place on Pelham St in Carlton is the Malaysian restaurant Chai – Eat Like Malaysian. The menu is massive and it’s sleek, modern and has excellent service. The first time I went there, I ordered the bak kut teh rice purely based on its very enticing photo on the menu though I’d initially chosen something else. Would you believe it was the tofu that attracted me?
When the dish arrived, I was not disappointed. Beautiful, flavoursome soup with tofu and big, fat shittake mushrooms that soak up the broth with a few fish balls thrown in for good measure. This all came with a side of rice and some puffy balls of pastry.
Tristan came along and ordered a rice dish – the chicken and salted fish fried rice. Very Asian and reminded me of Mum’s cooking – good comfort Asian fare. It doesn’t look overly pretty, I know, but don’t let that dissuade from trying it. Sometimes these sorts of dishes are the best reminder of everyday Asian food.
I vowed to return as the food is fantastic and there’s heaps on the menu I want to sample.
Return I did. One freezing night after work, I didn’t feel like heading home so thought I’d visit again. This time I tried the assam laksa. The broth is sweet, spicy and sour. This laksa has small, chopped round rice noodles soaking at the base with small pieces of fish. On top, there is finely chopped cucumber and chilli. I got my chopsticks and gently submerged everything into the broth to make it nice and hot (temperature and chilli hot). This dish tastes a litlle Vietnamese inspired with the coriander and the sourness. I’m quite the chilli wimp but loved it in this. The perfect bowl of noodles for the winter! Those short rice noodles are quite hard to grab with chopsticks – I really had to work hard to get food into my mouth!
With my laksa, I ordered teh tarik, or Malaysian pulled milk tea. It was warming, sweet and comforting. The waiter asked me after my meal if I liked the tea – the staff here always seem interested in how you liked your chosen offerings, which has impressed me from the beginning. Chai is just around the corner from Norsiah’s Kitchen (and truth be told, I think it’s actually better than Norsiah’s). On the most recent visit, the place was very busy for a Wednesday night and so it should be: cheap, fantastic service and delicious food. I don’t know what took me so long to get into Malaysian food. Urbanspoon has its name listed as ‘Chai – Malaysian Mamma’s Kitchen’ but I can’t see this on any of their menus or the storefront hence my calling it ‘Chai – Eat Like Malaysian’ which is on the menus and store window.