Petaling Street: Malaysian Hawker Food

January 14, 2016

Petaling Street is located along George Street in Haymarket/Chinatown area and draws my attention every time I walk by with its bright orange sign and blown up photos of the food displayed at the front. It was on my mind to try for the longest time and DT and I finally found the opportune time to pop by; it made for the perfect quick dinner before seeing the amazing Sam Smith at the Qantas Credit Union in Darling Harbour.

Open view into the kitchen
The window allows passersby to have a peek into the kitchen similar to Mamak where the main attraction is watching the roti canai being expertly made. I can totally understand why there would be a line for Petaling Street as the food served really represents Malaysian hawker food and relatively affordable too.

The interior was not fancy and I liked the casual setting but because the seating space was so narrow it did feel a bit awkward as waitstaff didn't have a lot of space to stand around if they had nothing to do.

Kitchen area
A somewhat visible kitchen with a long timber countertop. The restaurant made good use of the space available to them and more seats can be found downstairs. 

The menu at Petaling Street was impressive with a range of entrees, roti, noodle, rice and curry dishes on offer and so much more. 

Ice teh tarik $3.80
I don't know where this drink has been all my life. This beverage originates from Malaysia and is more commonly drunk hot but I love cold drinks so we got the cold option instead. I've been to Malaysia I believe four or five times now and embarrassingly enough have yet to have it there. The black tea sweetened with condensed milk was refreshing despite its sweetness and the taste can be compared to bubble milk tea but being a "pulled" tea there was more depth of flavour. I'm so addicted to teh tarik for its distinguishable taste and may be tempted to try and make my own (and fail miserably) or even better find a bottled version of the stuff.

Milk tea goodness
The teh tarik arrived in a hefty metal cup and pretty sizeable too. However, it was so delicious to the point that it was difficult to not guzzle it all in one go. I had to force myself and DT to carefully sip at it in measured intervals in order to have it last throughout the meal. In hindsight we should have ordered two.

Penang Asam Laksa $11.80
Since discovering asam laksa at Papparich I've been on a mission to try and find other restaurants that have this variation of laksa in Sydney. It was a rarity to find these noodles here as curry laksa is more well-known and probably suits more palates than the asam version which is a fish-based soup as opposed to curry-based. Thankfully, more and more Malaysian restaurants have appeared that are doing more authentic dishes and so getting my asam laksa fix has become less of a challenge.

Round rice noodles
I grew up eating asam laksa from Ipoh, Malaysia which has a darker orange soup so I was pretty intrigued by how yellow Penang asam laksa was, to be honest I'm not sure whether it's supposed to be an actual characteristic of it or Petaling Street just makes it yellow. Nonetheless, it really satisfied my cravings for this tamarind enriched soup and I was pleased that it came with thick round rice noodles which cemented the authenticity. They had a slight chewiness and did well to absorb the flavourful soup. Penang asam laksa is sweeter (due to the addition of pineapple) compared to asam laksa commonly found in Ipoh which is more sour. Take caution if you order it because the rich sourness and sweetness combined with some heat might be overwhelming and perhaps makes this dish an acquired taste. DT didn't enjoy it as much as I did and he prefers curry laksa over it.

Roti canai with curry chicken $10.80
I had high expectations for the roti canai but unfortunately was left disappointed. I can definitely say that Mamak's roti canai is leagues ahead. I found Petaling's too dense and doughy and cutting it into smaller pieces left much to be desired even though it made it more convenient to eat. 

The curry was decent, it wasn't heavy and erred on being watery but had plenty of flavour. If you like your curry heaped with coconut milk then you won't like this one and it was quite spicy as well (which I liked). I will mention that I do prefer this style of curry to pair with roti canai compared to coconut milk-laden ones. DT is the opposite to me which highlights the fact that everyone's tastes are different. The chicken pieces were pretty moist throughout and flavoursome but two small portions of it didn't seem worth it for the amount paid. 

Fried kway teow $11.50
Kway teow is the name for the flat rice noodles used for this staple dish of Malaysia and Singapore. A good stir fry noodle can easily be determined from the amount of "wok hei" incorporated. This Cantonese term literally means "breath of the wok". It's a distinctive aroma that is achieved with not just a hot wok surface but also having the right amount of oil and then cooking it to a specific temperature range. If done correctly a nice "wok hei" comes about and it really elevates and transforms the taste of plain rice noodles with the smokiness.

Petaling Street's fried kway teow was delicious, the noodles had an admirable level of "wok hei" and had a good mix of lup cheong (Chinese sausage), fish cake, scallops, bean sprout and fried egg tossed through. It even came with two large prawns so it was decent value for Sydney standards. There was plenty of flavour too from the soy sauce.

With so many dishes on the menu there's no question that I will be revisiting Petaling Street for more Malaysian hawker food. It's cheap and delicious and along with quick service it's the perfect option if you're in a hurry unless there's a line out the door but I'm sure it would be fairly efficient. Order the asam laksa if you're looking for something new and different to try, but I can't guarantee that it will be enjoyed otherwise you can't go wrong with their fried kway teow. As for roti canai, stick to Mamak or Spice Alley as they are the two places thus far that I have found are comparable to what I've had in Malaysia.

Petaling Street: Malaysian Hawker Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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