Norsiah's Kitchen is the sort of place I like to find when just wandering around. Not much to look at, it never seems empty, never overly crowded, offering simple but tasty food for the cost of the coins in your pocket.
The majority of the dishes are Malay/Indonesian in style, with a few Indian-Malaysian or Chinese dishes thrown in. There is both a bain-marie service and a separate menu that you can order from.
The Roti (fried bread with a chicken curry sauce) and Murtabak (roti filled with egg, onion and chicken, again with a curry sauce) are both good options. The servings are generous and the murtabak in particular is a meal in itself. Best eaten with your fingers, the murtabak was a little sloppy so be prepared to end up with sticky fingers.
Nasi Lemak is one of the national dishes of Malaysia, and that at Norsiah's reminds me very much of the version served in food courts everywhere there. This is a very simple dish with what seems like a strange combination of elements - rice, peanuts, anchovies, egg, sambal and curry - but it works.
The Nasi Goreng Kampung (Village style fried rice) was flavoursome but a little overdone, with char marks on some of the rice. This didn't affect the flavour so much as leave the dish a little crunchy. Still good to eat though and I'd like to try the other Nasi Gorengs that they offer.
The weakest of the dishes was the seafood char kway teoh. This is a Chinese Malaysian dish and normally one of my favourites. While Norsiah's is certainly not the worst version I have tried, the noodles were a bit sloppy and the dish was lacking in any 'wok hei'. I wouldn't order this again, preferring to try the other dishes on the menu.
Norsiah's offers only one desert but it is a good one. The Bubur Pulit Hitam (black rice in coconut milk) is sweet and rich. Served warm and with it currently so cold it makes a great (and cheap) finish to the meal.
Norsiah's is a comforting taste of home for Malaysian and Indonesian students in Melbourne. Cheap and cheerful, it offers simple, tasty food served with a smile. Not somewhere for fine dining, but a good everyday choice if around this side of town.
Ambience - 5.5
Service - 6.5
Food - 7
Price - 8.5
604 Swanston Street
Carlton VIC 3053
Tel: (03) 9347 7079