Lim's Nyonya Hut has been dispensing Malaysian style food in suburban Syndal for at least a decade now, and for all I know possibly far longer. Lauded both for the quality of its mains but also as one of the few places in town to sell Malaysian style kueh, I was quick to say yes when the invitation to go pay a visit came from Ms Counting her Calories and Ironman.
There are two things which strike you when you enter. First for me was the large boards behind the counter displaying the day's desserts and specials. A bit disappointingly these didn't include the bubur chacha or popiah (personal favourites), but still many, many other options were available.
The other thing which was immediately obvious was just how basic the set up was. For somewhere that had been not only in the Age's Cheap Eats but also the Good Food it was much more downmarket than I'd expected. Not something that I'd put in either the good or bad category, just not what I was expecting.
The menu is long and the includes many of the usual Malaysian favourites. Being a larger group than normal meant that in addition to the common char kway teoh's and nasi lemaks we were also able to order the achar (a tangy malay style vegetable dish), the gulai tumis (fish in a sour style sauce) and the laksa siam, a very different style of laksa to the typical curry version. While waiting for our meals to arrive though it was teh tarik for four and a float for Ms L!
First dish to arrive was a good char kway teoh. The difference between a good and average char kway teoh is in the ability of the cook to impart wok hei - the breath of the wok - into the flavour of the noodles. When it arrived at the table the colouring was good, the slight charing and smokiness of the wok was there, my favourite dish of the night.
The gulai tumos is a sour, mildly spicy fish based dish with okra, served with enough sauce to almost qualify as a stew. One thing which has struck me on occasion is that most of the south eastern Asian dishes available here tend to the sweeter side. While I can hardly deny having a sweet tooth, balance is important both in an individual dish and for a meal.
The balachan kangkong that I wanted to order wasn't available so for our vegetables we ordered the achar, a picked mixed vegetable dish. With a crisp texture and full bodied flavours, this formed a great tangy mix with the gulai tumis and was Snooze's dish of the night.
We probably wouldn't have ordered the nasi lemak, as it is a dish a little difficult to share between the five of us, except that I saw it came with pandan rice and I struggle not to order anything with pandan in it. The flavours and aromas of the pandan were not as strong as I would have liked but I was pleased to see it served with sambal sotong (chill squid), something that either wasn't on the menu or which I just missed. An interesting variation of a nasi lemak and of what we ordered probably the dish I would choose if returning for a solo visit.
Last of the mains was the Laksa Siam. Very different to the more common curry style laksas favoured in some other more southerly parts of Malaysia and Singapore, taste wise it is closer to an assam laksa (a sour fish based laksa from Penang) with a sweeter and thicker soup base. Also, traditional or not I am not sure, but I did like the fatter, chewier noodles this laksa was served with.
Where I did feel let down a little though was with the kueh. We went with the sri muka (a two layered kueh with a soft pandan flavoured top and a glutinous rice bottom), my favourite kueh talan (two custard layers, pandan on top and coconut underneath), Ms Counting her Calories favourite ondeh ondeh (glutinous rice flour balls flavoured with pandan and filled with a gula melaka or palm sugar centre), the Indonesian lapis (layered cake) and the kueh dadar, a pandan flavoured crepe filled with moist coconut drenched in gula melaka). So what was the main issue with the kueh? The main thing is that with the exception of the kueh dadar we all without exception found the kueh lacking in flavour.
Final dishes tried on the night were the cendol and pulit hitam. I didn't get to try the cendol but the pulut hitam was a little thicker than I am used to but nice.
Pleasant company and pleasant food, service was friendly but surprisingly slow and one major hiccup which resulted in Ironman receiving his teh tarik nearly 15 minutes after everyone else (we assumed they have forgotten but there seems to have been some other hiccup). The flavours and style of food felt closer to what I've tried in Malaysia compared to most places around town, but the kueh were definitely a letdown.
Food - 7
Ambience - 6
Service - 6.5
Price - 7.5
240 Blackburn Road
Syndal VIC 3150
Tel: (03) 9802 3763