Sunday, February 27, 2011

Selera Singapore Asli, Nunawading by Big Fil

Selera Singapore Asli is a small family style Malay Singaporean style café next door to Persian Flavours. While I already have a very good local Indonesian café (Indosari) I want this one as well. Not because I am greedy mind (well at least not just for that reason) but because it's one of my favourite styles of food.

The café set up is very basic. A few tables at the front, a bain marie where you can order a few simple dishes to go with some rice and a large cooking area where you can watch your food being prepared. It's one of the most authentic Malay style places around Melbourne. Ms Counting her Calories even commented that the heat of the kitchen combined with the humidity that day meant it felt like being back in Malaysia. All it needed was to be a few degrees hotter and some ceiling fans.

The food itself I'd describe as not outstanding Malay food but very good for the price. Most mains are priced at either $8.50 or $9, with the cheapest being the nasi lemak at $5.50, with the most expensive was the serve of seven sate sticks at $12.

As there were the five of us we decided to share our own Malay style feast. The Nasi Lemak comes with fried egg, sambal, ikan bilis and sliced cucumber and we also ordered two serves of each of the beef rendang and sotong (squid) to go with it. I liked that the sambal was spicy and the beef rendang tender, but I loved the crunchiness of the ikan bilis and that there was not a hint of chewiness about the squid. I would have liked a bit more pandan flavour in the rice but appreciated the way it was served on a traditional banana leaf.

Snooze later commented that her favourite dish was the Lontong. This comprised rice cakes with boiled egg, sambal, and vegetables with coconut gravy. The rice cakes were good and provided texture to the dish.

Surprisingly I'd never tried Mee Rebus before, yellow noodles with boiled egg, fried shallots and spring onion in a sweet potato sauce. The sauce was runnier and sweeter than I'd expected but went well with the noodles. Like the Lontong, it wouldn't be the first thing I'd order if (when) I return, but I wouldn't object to having it again either.

Our preferred Rojak wasn't available so for our final main we ordered was the gado gado, an Indonesian style salad with rice cake, tempeh and vegetables in a peanut sauce. Normally when I order this it has come with a dry sauce poured over the top, more like a paste, whereas this sauce was runnier and the salad effectively sat in it. Given that two of the other mains had similar wet sauces I'd have preferred a drier sauce for the contrast, but still a good dish.

We also decided to order the sate. These chicken weren't available so beef it was. These were very good, tender but with some char marks and a peanut sauce that avoided the trap of being over sweet. Well priced and better than those available in many restaurants.

Finally, for dessert we each ordered a serve of the bubur pulit itam (black rice in coconut milk) and a fried banana ball which we split between us. The pulit itam was slightly runnier than I like it (thick with a bit of coconut milk board over the top), but served just warm and well flavoured with a few pieces of pandanus leaf. The banana ball looked dry and a bit unappetising when we ordered it, but when divided up proved still moist with a good banana flavour and texture reminiscent of banana bread.

Good authentic Malay home cooking. The aunties were friendly and helpful especially when we tried work out the arrangements for ordering some kueh to pick up the following week (apparently it's only made on the weekends). Prices are good - we effectively ordered 6 mains and 6 desserts for just over $66. I would have preferred a couple of the dishes to be a little spicier (not hotter), but would have no problems at all in making a return visit and have put it on the list to take Hungry Pete the next time he visits from Adelaide. Something worth noting though, the restaurant is aimed more at lunch than dinner and some items may be sold out and not available later in the day.

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

334 Springvale Road
Forest Hill VIC 3131
Tel: (03) 9878 0310

Selera Singapore Asli on Urbanspoon

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