Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rasa Malaysia, Caulfield by Big Fil

Rasa Malaysia is seemingly a permanent fixture in both the Good Food Guide and the Age's Cheap Eats. Located near Monash University's Caulfield campus, but unlike many Malaysian eateries it's not really orientated towards the student end of the market; it's somewhere I've eaten at numerous times but not for a while. Miss Counting Her Calories was going to be in the area on a cold and wet Wednesday night so we were off to sample some of the best laksa and char kway teoh in Melbourne.

Unfortunately though, we had a bit of a Goldilocks experience with the food. There’s little allowance made for western palates not used to much chilli in the food and consequently I ordered our dishes as medium hot. That meant that one of us found the food very spicy, one would have liked it a bit hotter and me, well, I found it just about right.


First dish to arrive was the curry laksa. Rasa's curry laksa is a little different to most around town, more creamy and less curry flavoured. Both Miss Counting Her Calories and I thought this was as good a laksa as we’ve had in Melbourne. To be picky it could have used more egg noodles and been more generous with the other ingredients, but I thought the soup itself was the best I've had outside Malaysia.


I order the Nyonya beef hotpot every time I visit. It’s easy to explain why. Moist, tender, spicy and with the spices adding depth to the flavour, it’s just delicious.


Miss Counting Her Calories and I disagree about where to get the best Char Kway Teoh in Melbourne. I think it’s at Rasa, whereas it’s only her second favourite place. On this night though I didn't think it was as good as it had been before. I couldn't quite put my finger on it but something seemed to be missing. Still good, but not its usual dish of the night.


That title would have gone to one of the desserts. I would have been hard pressed to choose which one though as taste and presentation wise these were the best I've had at a Melbourne Malaysian restaurant.

I'm not always a huge fan of Kueh dadar, a pandan flavoured crepe filled with desiccated coconut and palm sugar (gula Melaka). The main problem is that the crepe and coconut can be a bit dry and ruin the texture of the dish. No such problems here.


My personal favourite was probably the pisang goreng or fried banana. Served with a rich and thick caramel sauce, the batter was thin and crispy and the banana still firm on the inside. I don't normally like banana fritter style dishes but this one might change my mind.


Finally, the pandan flavoured sticky rice. Pandan is one of my two favourite flavours for desserts (along with vanilla) and the rice in this one was delicately flavoured with none of that starchiness causing the rice to clump together into a ball you sometimes get. Three desserts, all winners.


Overall
Once or twice the food here has been a bit of a letdown, probably because my expectations are so high, but generally the Malaysian food here is about as good as it gets in Melbourne. The atmosphere is nice and the staff very friendly and helpful (it’s not often one of the owners comes out to sing happy birthday to a guest at the next table). One thing though, there are two rooms in the restaurant and for the first time that I can remember we were in the second room. This seemed to affect service slightly, and it felt a little less organised than usual. If you’re interested in Malaysian food I recommend paying a visit, and paying a bit more for a more refined experience.

Rating
Food – 8
Service – 7
Ambience - 7.5
Price – 7

Address
29 Waverley Road
Malvern East Vic 3145
Tel: (03) 9572 3688

Rasa Malaysian Cafe on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

katy_em said...

Hey,
would you like to try out RMIT RUSU realfoods, which is vegan, organic and affordable? It is in Building 8, level 4 Cafeteria, near the pool tables. It is only open from 11am-4pm during the weekdays

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