Last week, the Boy and I had the honour to be invited by the owners of Chilipadi at Melbourne Central to try out their menu for their Nyonya (or Nonya) Weekend Buffet (which will be starting soon). Special thanks to Penny (from Jeroxie) who gathered a bunch of us bloggers and tweeps to try the fabulous food that night!
|The beautiful table setting of fabric rose petals, real daisies, and tea candles had us all in the romantic mood|
At the end of our fantastic feast, we were asked to give our honest opinion in terms of the range, authenticity and quality of the food provided to us through out the night.
I am still quite amazed that both Robert and Li (our wonderful host and chef) put up 19 dishes for us all! So sit back and relax (make sure you aren't too hungry), as I take you on a marvelous food journey.
For those of you who aren't acquainted with the term Nonya, I'd suggest doing some research on Google or Wikipedia. Some of you may have come across the term, Peranakan Cuisine, and that is pretty much the same as Nyonya cuisine.
The Rempah Udang was an amazing combination of sweet and savoury and brought back many happy memories of my childhood where I'd be glutting away with these. However, after hearing how much work these took to make, I chewed each mouthful slowly and was fascinated by the different textures it provided.
We were also provided with 3 different sauces (pictured), which were cincalok acar, sambal belachan and lobak chilli sauce.
Our favourite of the night, had got to be the cincalok and the only way to describe it is, "CINCALOK-ISH!"... lols
The Lobak was made out of Chicken (usually pork), as Chilipadi is a Halal restaurant. The bean curd skin was wonderfully crisp and the chicken mince was delicately seasoned. It was good, but I still prefer the pork version.
The Pai Ti was slightly dissapointing given that the first two entrees' were so delicious. The filling of the Pai Ti was good, but I think it sat too long in it's crispy shell (whilst waiting for us to settle, so definitely our fault!) and it came rather, uncrispy. Not soggy, just airy (I can't think of the term...)
On to the mains! And boy were they fantastic mains... The Otak-Otak above was spot on! It was an exact replica of what my grandmother makes... and if I didn't know I was in Melbourne doing a food tasting event, I'd swear that I was eating my Grandma's (Po Po's) dish!!
Note: This Otak-Otak wasn't a favourite with a few others, as they were more used to the grilled (panggang) version, more popular in the Southern States.
The Achat Fish had got to be the highlight of my night. The fish was fried to a golden brown before being served with a pickled sauce. Sweet, sour and slightly spicy... this went extremely well with rice and was extremely appetizing!
Somehow the Pong Tay didn't quite live up to my expectations. Again, this is a pork-free version of the original Babi Pong Teh and it tasted a bit bland. There are a few variations of this dish and I may not have been used to this version. But the key ingredient is the Bean Paste or Tau Cheo.
Luckily for those around, the petai (stink bean) was probably not fresh from the pod and the flavour wasn't as strong as you could probably get it when fresh :P
A simple mixed vegetable dish which due to the fermented bean curd, again brought back memories of home and vegetarian dishes. This dish also included glass noodles.
I remember asking my mother once (as she hails from Penang) why quite a few dishes seemed anglo-cised and she explained that most of these recipes were created to appease tastebuds of the then British Masters.
Hence, dishes like macaroni pie (it's a Penang thing), Inche Kabin, Hainanese Chicken Chop, etc became such popular dishes not only to the British people occupying Malaya, but also to the locals.
This was hilarious... only because when the waiter was introducing the dish to us, he kept saying, "Kari Kopitiam" over and over again. Which obviously baffled us, until we realised it was meant to be Kari Kapitan!
Poor Boy was so embarrassed as we burst out in gales of hearty laughter... in terms of the taste of the dish... i remembered it as being slightly sour (from the lime juice), but that's pretty much it...
|Leng Chee Kang|
I wasn't a fan of this as it had goji berries in it, and it reminded me more of a soup than a dessert.
|Bubur Cha Cha|
|Kueh Bingka (Bengkang)|
|Teh Tarik (Milk Tea Malysian Style!)|
We ended the night with request for Teh Tarik (Malaysian tea that is pulled before being served. The above is an action shot of the tea being "pulled". Teh Tarik literally translates to Pulled/Pulling tea!
Ms I-Hua and the Boy dined as a guests of Chilipadi and is absolutely delighted to have been given this opportunity!
*Disclaimer: All food ratings are purely based on my own experiences and how I feel about the service, food and quality
Food/ Cuisine: Nyonya (Malaysian)
Dining Style: Restaurant
Menzies Alley (Melbourne Central) right next to Max Brenner
Cnr of Little Bourke Street and Elizabeth Street
Tel:(03) 9663 5688
Chillipad is open
Sunday - Wednesdays from 10am til late and
Thursday - Saturdays from 10am til 5am
How to get there: