Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Coconut House, Melbourne CBD by Big Fil

Possibly the most authentic feeling kopitiam (Chinese Malaysian Coffee House) in the city is Coconut House. Recently refurbished, it is still as popular as ever and hard to get a seat at peak time. As with most Malaysian restaurants and cafes around Melbourne I have mixed feelings about this place. The one thing I don't have mixed feelings about though is sitting down for a plate of their fried chicken nasi lemak and a big glass of teh tarik.

There is something about the nasi lemak here that I love - the sambal. The mixture of sweetness and chilli just hits the spot for me. The servings are a decent size, the chicken and rice good, the ikan bilis (non-salty fried anchovies) nice and crispy. Easily my favourite nasi lemak in Melbourne. It would be good if more options were available, for example chilli squid, but this dish always leaves a smile on my face.

The Hainanese Chicken Rice is also fairly good. The chicken is soft and tasty, the chicken broth and rice better than most places around town. I am not such a fan of the chilli sauce served with the chicken rice, I think the sambal served with the nasi lemak is much better.

Not as good is the laksa. The soup is good but the ingredients in it aren't of the same standard. In particular I have never had eggplant in a laksa before and I don't think it works. They also don't seem to have a seafood laksa which is a big letdown, not being able to search for those juicy morsels of prawn, squid and fish cakes.

A little unusually they serve cendol in a glass, not a bowl, so that it's half dessert half drink. I have had it that way before but not often. The sweetness and sugar is all at the bottom so you need to stir the drink before consuming it, which isn't a problem. More of an issue is the way they use large pieces of ice rather than crushed ice. This makes it hard to get to the bits of jelly at the bottom of the glass. A pity, because the taste is really nice.

And finally, to accompany any kopitiam meal, a nice big glass of the tarik. Perfect with the cold weather coming up.

A good but overly crowded option for a quick Malaysian style meal. Try to avoid peak times when it seems uncomfortably crowded, and my suggestion is to get the chicken rice or nasi lemak rather than the laksa.

Ambience - 5
Service - 6.5
Food - 7
Price - 7.5

449 Elizabeth Street
Melbourne CBD VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9329 6401

Coconut House on Urbanspoon

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