With Melbourne’s food scene the way it is, with a new cafe, concept, pop up or collaboration happening every other minute, it’s very, very rare that I visit a place more than once in like a month period. Heck, it's rare I re-visit at all!
Yet somehow since opening, I’ve been to Old Town White Coffee multiple times. Like in the last month. That doesn’t happen. The Malaysian cuisine fever is real.
Old Town White Coffee, for those of you who don’t know, is a chain from Malaysia that specializes in Malaysian classics…along with some weirdly bastardised Western food (I mean, why bother Old Town? Maybe if you’re in Malaysia, but there’s really no point bringing that stuff to a western country…). This place has an outlet in the international airport in Kuala Lumpur…which has saved me multiple times. There’s really nothing better than a teh tarik after a long flight…
So I visited once with just my mum, and then visited again with my mum and my brother. On my first visit, we shared an Old Town nasi lemak with fried chicken, a Malaysian classic…and I was impressed. The coconut rice was aromatic and fluffy, the chicken drumstick was huge, but perfectly fried and still juicy inside. I love the shiny peanuts, oily enough so you know they’re bad for you but so delicious at the same time and the ikan bilies were crispy perfection. The sambal is also absolutely delicious, not just spicy, there’s a lot of body, and actual flavour with a nice smooth consistency, we asked for more and they brought us some with no questions.
On our second visit, we ordered the nasi lemak again and I was just as happy again…except that this time our chicken wasn’t quite as big as the first time and now extra sambal? They charged you for it. Clearly learning their lessons quickly here! However, despite that, as said, I still loved the nasi lemak for the flavour and fluffy rice. It’s not the cheapest on the market, but for around $15, it’s a really big serve, with lots of different components, including satay!
The wattan hor dish we ordered at the request of my brother, had fantastic wok breath, but lacked a bit of punch in flavour otherwise and was a bit lack lustre.
The roti though, oh my goodness. Beautiful. Beautiful, fluffy and flaky, light to break apart, and leaving just a light sheen of oil on the fingers. The curry sauce it came with was also packing with flavour.
As expected as well, the teh tarik does not disappoint, I’ve come by during the day while running around for work as an alternative to my afternoon chai, and it’s also rich in flavour and creamy in texture. On my off days, this is really all I need.
Lastly but certainly not least, I adore the cendol here. I don’t think you understand. I really really adore it. There’s not many places in Melbourne doing a good cendol, and I reckon Old Town might be as good as you can get it. The pandan noodles are aromatic and a generous amount of red beans (which I personally like). Mum reckons there could be a little more gula melaka in it, and the first time we had it, we found some crystallised gula melaka at the bottom which kind of affected the texture, but otherwise no complaints here. I’m totally down for a cendol date…anytime guys. Really.
It’s certainly not the cheapest Malaysian joint in town, but the servings are generous and the surroundings pretty comfortable as well.
I thought also in comparison, I would visit a Papparich, since I had never been and see how it fared.
Brad and I visited the Papparich in Nunawading for a late lunch one weekend, where we ordered a nasi lemak, a curry laksa, roti with curry sauces and a teh tarik (duh).
Honestly, although Papparich is a bit cheaper, and has probably a slightly bigger variety than Old Town, I much, much preferred the food I had at Old Town. At Papparich the nasi lemak rice was heavy and gluggy, sticking to itself like sticky rice, and the sambal did not pack the same richness of flavour that the Old Town sambal did.
And the roti, which is also made fresh like at Old Town, cannot compare to the fluffiness of Old Town’s. It was thick and dense…delicious, but the texture was not there at all.
So all in all? I currently basically have Old Town cravings on a weekly basis, which if my time working at Chillipadi as a waitress tells me anything…my waistline is probably going to have issues in the next few weeks…but it’d be so, so worth it.
Old Town White Coffee
303 Elizabeth Street