Kopi-tiam Spice Alley (Alex Lee Kitchen)

June 06, 2016

A nondescript alleyway parallel to Kensington Street and marked with a sign reading "Spice Alley"  beckons you to a hawker style set-up of Malaysian/Singaporean food stalls  (Alex Lee Kitchen and Old Jim Kee's) and other stalls  specialising in Thai (Bang Luck Thai Street Food), Vietnamese (Mekong), Cantonese (Hong Kong Diner) and Japanese (KYO-TO) cuisine. 

For this post, I will be describing my food adventures from Alex Lee Kitchen who I'm certain is popular among the people for dishing out different types of roti. 

Through the glass window one can observe roti being expertly prepared and be mesmerised by the ball of dough magically transform into a thin pancake before being panfried.  Unfortunately I didn't catch any staff preparing roti at the time hence the not very exciting photo.

There was a good selection of roti (savoury and sweet) to choose from their menu but I always love getting roti canai and it is basically my benchmark for a good roti place. DT however really likes his eggs so roti telur is a favourable option too.

The kitchen also serves rice dishes if you're fancying a more substantial meal with a side of protein. I almost forgot to mention that the food is relatively affordable. Sure it's not reflective of the prices back in Malaysia or Singapore but for Sydney standards it is quite cheap. 

Roti Telur
"Telur" means egg in Malay so it was basically roti with fried egg. Served warm it was great for dipping into the curry sauces. If you love eggs, then perhaps order this roti otherwise if you like your roti nice and flaky then stick to good ol' roti canai. Not that the roti telur was particularly dense though as it was light and fluffy but just not flaky. 

Roti canai $7
This dish was pretty much what I came for. I reminisce the days my grandfather would buy me roti canai from the local stall in the morning for breakfast whenever I visited Malaysia and he would return with a bag full of fresh hot roti and loads of curry sauce for only a few dollars. In Sydney, I have to settle for paying more for meagre servings so I have to at least scout out the good roti places around here. The roti canai was great but the curry dips were a tad underwhelming as they were a bit bland, I like Mamak's more.

Roti with Chicken Curry
Here we have roti canai with a serving of chicken curry. The roti canai was akin to a light and flaky puff pastry with a lovely aromatic butteriness to it. I found it similar to Mamak's hence pretty authentic if I do say so myself. The chicken curry was good but not great. I felt that food in general from Alex Lee Kitchen didn't come out hot enough and was more lukewarm. The curry itself was flavoursome and rich with a bit of heat which I appreciated. I prefer that over mild creamier curries. The chicken was average as it could have been more moist but the flavours were there.

BBQ Crispy Pork Belly Rice $10
The classic Chinese BBQ crispy pork belly has always been a favourite of mine when done right. Achieving the right level of that distinctive savoury smokey BBQ flavour and perfectly crisp pork belly skin is what makes or breaks it. I thought the pork belly here was average, the flavour was decent however the crackling skin wasn't crunchy enough. Despite that it was still a delicious meal involving dipping the pork belly into the chilli sauce and eating it with the fragrant chicken-flavoured rice. 

Roti Durian $9
This is a must order if you do go here but be forewarned as they don't seem to always have it available so you can imagine I was greatly saddened when I was told they couldn't serve it because they had run out of durian. Alas, on another visit I finally got to try it and it was amazing, it was everything I had hoped it to be and more. Sweet fluffy roti with fragrant (not many may agree) bits of soft durian scattered throughout, it was truly delightful. It wasn't an overly sweet dessert either and so the pairing with creamy vanilla ice cream was the perfect touch. 

As can be seen above, the stalls don't accept cash which I doubt would be a problem for anyone. If you want to experience hawker style food then Spice Alley would be worth a visit as it will give you a taste of that. I definitely recommend the roti from Alex Lee Kitchen whether it be sweet or savoury but just a side note the durian roti completely stole the show for me.

Kopi-Tiam Spice Alley Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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