After several months in the US, Ms Counting her Calories, Ironman and Ms L have returned to Melbourne hungry for Malaysian Food. Apparently it’s almost impossible to find there, at least in small-town Pennsylvania where they spent a lot of their time. Consequently on their second day back they fought off jetlag and ventured out to makan at their favourite Mamak café/restaurant, Rich Maha.
Now I've been to the old Rich Maha in town numerous times and once to the Vermont South store. I always remember it as a great place for Malaysian style Indian food, excellent curries, crispy but fluffy roti and hot sweet tea tarik. It’s a style of food I really enjoy: quick, tasty and cheap served in causal surroundings. Most importantly of all it's fun and an excellent opportunity to eat with your hands without appearing uncouth. However, this time I was a little disappointed in the food, not finding it up to the standard of previous visits.
With a group of six of us it was possible to try a number of the menu options, including bain marie, laksa, dosa and murtabak. My choice was the beef and egg murtabak as well as sharing some chicken 65 and roti with Ironman and Ms Calories. Murtabak is effectively a stuffed roti that is fried on the grill, with my choice a fairly traditional beef and egg served with chicken curry sauce on the side. It’s one of my favourite Malaysian street snacks but this version didn’t have as much flavour as I was looking for and the outside could have been just a bit crisper to give it a more interesting texture.
Again the chicken 65 wasn’t as good as I remembered, still packing a little heat but without the sweet spiciness of the other herbs and the chicken not as moist and tender as on other visits.
I didn’t get to sample any of the other but comments were mixed. Snooze and Ms L went for the dosa with a side order of alloo gobhi (potato and cauliflower). Both liked the dosa but were not as impressed with the accompanying chutneys. The alloo ghobi was better but with a much stronger tomato flavour than they were used to.
Ms Counting her Calories went for the curry laksa, which she’d apparently been missing the whole time she was away. Again a slight disappointment, with the soup lacking the spice flavours and the chilli kick she remembered.
To finish off with something sweet we ordered a serve of the roti with kaya (coconut jam) and honey. This was probably the dish that was best received at the table. Warm, sweet and sticky, everyone who tried liked it except for Ms L who was put off by just how sticky it left her hands.
The fact this post is shorter than normal despite Rich Maha being a favourite (at least the old city site) probably reflects the visit (excluding the company) was a bit of a downer. It’s not that the food was bad, but where once it was very good it now seems just mediocre. Hopefully it was just a bad day, which can happen particularly with bain marie food that happens to have not been recently refreshed. On the other hand, the sticky tables did show a lack of care and the infernal scrapping of metal chairs against the floor was very annoying after a while. Oh well, Rich Maha, hopefully it was just one of those days and we can still be friends.
Food – 6.5
Service – 6.5
Ambience – 5.5
Price – 7.5
499 Burwood Highway
Vermont South VIC 3150
Tel: (03) 9887 7663