Sunday, 20 February 2011

Coconut House

449 Elizabeth St
Melbourne, 3000

Typical Melbourne. It was still warm when I got up in the morning, but by dinner time, a cool change, along with a smattering of rain, has come around, leaving me and K shivering slightly, and craving some comfort food. And so we ended up at Coconut House, a Malaysian Kopitam-styled eatery on Elizabeth Street that’s very popular with students, as well as the homesick Malaysians.

Little Coconut House more towards a leisure food place.

Coconut house was practically full when we got there, so we went three doors down to their smaller branch, Little Coconut House. As you can see from the sign above, we needed to ‘allow extra time for our waitress’, because the kitchen is actually back up at Coconut House. Despite that though, we both had our food in front of us in just over 5 minutes after sitting down. Service is minimalistic but friendly, you order at the counter, take some napkins and water, and sit down at your table with your number to wait for your food. The menu covers quite a few of the traditional Malaysian dishes, including (but not limited too) Hainanese chicken rice, pork noodles, and BBQ chicken/pork with egg noodles. They also serve a range of Malaysian drinks such as 3 coloured drink, teh tarik (‘pulled’ tea), and Milo. Most dishes here hover around the 8-9 dollar mark, and drinks are around 3 dollars.

Nasi Lemak Traditional Fried Chicken ($8.50)
K’s Nasi Lemak Traditional Fried Chicken ($8.50) was the first dish to arrive. A perfectly cooked sunny-side up egg draped over a mound of coconut rice, accompanied by some sweet-spicy sambal sauce, a handful of peanuts and anchovies, and a single piece of fried chicken. A couple of very thin cucumber slices added some colour. The sambal wasn’t as spicy as I would like, leaning more towards overly-sweet, and the chicken was... just chicken. Overall I’d say it’s not very exciting, nor a very big portion for what you pay, but at the same time, you could certainly get worse for the same price.

Traditional Curry Laksa ($8.60)

My portion of Traditional Curry Laksa ($8.60) looked much more impressive. Served in a bowl that was just short of enormous, it came with all the trimmings – sliced chicken, eggplant, a couple of prawns, beancurd puffs, fish cakes, beanshoots, and a combination of vermicelli and egg noodles, all marinating nicely in a cloudy orange broth. Now, I have a confession to make – I haven’t had laksa for a while, and I don’t know if I’ve ever had what’s considered to be a ‘good’ laksa, so I don’t quite know what to rate this one against. Nevertheless, the first sip revealed a broth with good depth of flavour, redolent with the creaminess of coconut milk and hints of lemongrass. But despite the slicks of chilli oil on the surface of the broth, I did find myself craving for more of a spicy kick; or maybe it’s just my upbringing on Sichuan food that’s doing the talking. All in all, I did enjoy this laksa, all the ingredients soaked up the broth very nicely, and it was full of flavour – perfect for a cold Melbourne evening that left me nice and warm on the inside.

Rating: 13/20 – cures cold, hunger, and homesickness  

Gratuitous shot of K's (brother's) DSLR and awesome tripod, taken from the $4 app on my iPhone. And he's not even the food blogger.

Coconut House on Urbanspoon

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