eat like a Malaysian here? yes please

Chai Eat Like Malaysian restaurant

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.

bak kut teh rice

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.

chicken and salted fish fried rice

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!

assam laksa

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 isΒ 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.

Chai - Malaysian Mamma's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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15 thoughts on “eat like a Malaysian here? yes please

  1. Billy

    This place looks good! Norsiah’s is good, though as it’s just nasi padang, I get a little bored by what’s on offer, so I couldn’t go there that often.

    I’m not a huge fan of bak kut teh, though I’m told that’s probably because I haven’t had good bak kut teh. I had the one at Sambal Kampung in Little Bourke St. It was a little too medicinal tasting for my liking. Oh, and the little puffy balls of pastry look like they’re chopped up pieces of chinese donut. πŸ˜‰

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  3. Gem

    I walk past this place weekly (I also work right near it) and the ‘eat like Malaysian’ always captures my attention and makes me giggle, but I’ve never actually gone in.

    Might check it out, thanks πŸ™‚

    (and creepy, we have the same name plus food blogs)

  4. Gem

    @Billy aw poo, @jillianjtl told me the name of that doughnut-like thing…Chinese crullers or ‘you tiao’. I feel like a lame Westerner for not knowing what to do with them, hehe.

    Norsiah’s is good, but I like Chai more πŸ™‚

    @Gem haha, freaked me out at first seeing your comment as I thought “wait, I don’t recall replying to comments already?!”

    Yeah, definitely check it out. I giggle too about the name – it sort of sounds like a command – “EAT LIKE MALAYSIAN!”

    What are the odds of two Gems working near Chai and having food blogs! That’s pretty funny.

  5. Rachel

    Hi there,

    Just popped into your blog while trolling for food reviews, and thought I’d say hello after seeing your review on Chai!

    Reckon Chai will be up to its ears since Rice Bar has since suffered that dodgy fire…

    Try the Hainanese chicken rice, it’s pretty decent compared to what’s out there πŸ™‚

    1. gem Post author

      Hullo Rachel! I’m not that fond of Rice Bar to be honest – ordered takeaway fried rice with pork and it wasn’t a very pleasant experience – not to mention there was virtually no pork. I’ll definitely be going back to Chai so thanks muchly for your recommendation. I’ve also yet to try their nasi lemak too.

  6. Gem

    @Joyce yep, most definitely reasonable in price. Be keen to see what you think if you end up reviewing it πŸ™‚

    1. gem Post author

      I don’t really know much about Malaysian food, just really liked this place πŸ™‚ But yes, always interested to hear what fellow food blog wanksters think πŸ˜›

  7. Ashley

    How interesting! My family is from Malaysia so when we take them out to eat Malaysian they’re extremely picky…might have to give this a go sometime πŸ™‚

    1. gem Post author

      Hey Ashley, I’d love to know your thoughts. I haven’t had much exposure to Malaysian food so would love to know if it’s considered authentic and such πŸ™‚

    1. gem Post author

      It’s really nice. Make a great takeaway dish too! You should go if you venture out of Footscray πŸ™‚

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