Look, on paper, this joint (despite being a chain of sorts) ticks all the right boxes. Located in Flemington, (which is slowly becoming Little Malaysia ... well I hope!), it has a reasonably extensive menu that includes a few offbeat touches like Ayam Petai. It has a showcase hotplate kitchen where Rotis can be made fresh, and the staff, going by the accents, are largely Malaysian, and this is not to be scoffed at.
Even before stepping into the restaurant proper I was already excited about the prospect of having Roti Jala, or net bread (the batter is extruded in a lacy pattern that forms a net). Roti Jala can be used as an alternative to Rice or Roti and is usually served with curry.
It was relatively speaking the shining light of the meal, although it should have come first as an entree (these little oversights are really starting to bug me!). Roti Jala is not something that is readily available in coffee shops (although you won't have much trouble finding some in the Arab Street area - try Kampong Glam Cafe for a start). Its more of a homecooked thing. But although the Jala at Chilli Padi itself was on the mark, the accompanying curry was limp and lifeless! Now even in Singapore these sorts of accompaniements can be watered down and on the cold end of the lukewarm spectrum ... but in comparison to the slop that arrived with my Jala ... well no further comment!
M's Asam Laksa arrived with a little plate of Hae ko on the side, which earned them a tick, BUT, the balance of the Laksa was all wrong!! Lets forgive them the use of tinned pineapple, but it was too strong a fish hit without the balance of the sweetness of tamarind. The noodles were way too thick and probably soaked up too much liquid in the cooking process. Instead of being refreshed in boiling water, they were probably left in there to soak. Not good!!
My Nasi Goreng Kampung came out gluggy and way too heavy on the sauce!!! It had the required ikan bilis, but where was the prawn flavour? And the chicken was tasteless!!! Oh and excuse me for going all Kanye on you but WHAT'S UP WITH THE DICED CARROTS???? It threw the Kampung taste completely out of whack! Angry much?? You bet. And don't let me get started on the 2 sticks of whatever passing as Satay.
Listen up all potential restaraunteurs who may be reading this blog, when you serve Malaysian food, the condiments are as important as the main ingredients. I should not have to ask you for some sambal!!! Especially if the words Authentic and Malaysian are being bandied around. Sambal should either have been spooned onto the plate, or brought out as a side dish.
Alright! my rant is over. We salvaged the day by going to the wonderful Sun Theatre (if you live in the region and haven't been .. why not???) to see The King's Speech, which was a lovely piece of fluff, and thoroughly enjoyable.
Colin Firth was adorable as usual, Helena Bottom Carter played her role with elan and Geoffrey Rush was surprisingly restrained. The only casting I'm still unsure of was Guy Pearce as King Edward VIII. I just can't get Felicia out of my head everytime he comes on screen. Oh and how old does Anthony Andrews look! I barely recognised him (he's responsible for what is still the most convincing vomit scene ever filmed in Brideshead Revisited).
M found a recording of the original speech on youtube and it was interesting to compare the 2. The original was longer and Bertie didn't have as many pauses, but I think you can hear Lionel in the background at one point.
We decided to stop by Sabroso ostensibly for one drink on the way home. However Jackie was tending bar and Trina eventually turned up so that one drink ended up being a few with the staff at closing. What was really exciting was finding out that I was possibly at Uni, maybe even sharing some classes, and staying at the same Halls of residence as Richenda Pritchard, who is the co-owner (well soon to be ex-owner) of Delizia Cucina.
We celebrated an anniversary at Delizia and the food was amazing. Its a shame that Richenda has decided to pack it in. She said that she needed a break and that it had been a tough 2 years. Here's hoping I bump into Richenda at Sabroso on a regular basis. I would love to keep track on what she does next.
If you're thinking of hurrying down there before the new owners take over, you're too late. Richenda and some of her staff were at Sabroso to toast their final night.
So peops out West, you need to support these places!!
(in an effort to be fair and balanced, please find a favourable and certainly a much more comprehensive review of Chilli Padi here - moral of the story is ... try it out and make your own mind up)