Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Old Raffles Place - Melbourne

I came to know this restaurant many years ago when it was first introduced by my cousin. This little joint is tucked in the corner of busy Johnston Street, which is more known as the Spanish quarter of Melbourne.

While waiting for my food, I approached the owner, Mr. Alan Han, to let him know that I would like to do a blog on his restaurant . His candid response was "Are you going to write something controversial about my place?"  He told me how upset he was with some 'bad review' in the internet about his food. This guy must be quite passionate of what he does to get too upset over it.

When we finished our meals, I complimented him for the authenticity of food served and how yummy they were, especially the 'Hainanese Chicken Rice' (photo above).  This cuisine is originated from the Hainan island in Southern China. Where the folks from this island, the Hainanese, migrated to the South East Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand, they brought with them this traditional cuisine.

The Hainanese Chicken Rice served here one of the best you can get in Melbourne. Every detail is looked into, i.e. the chili sauce that accompanied it and the intricate flavour of the rice (cooked with chicken stock with seasonings, hint of ginger, stock from the boiled chicken) and most important the chicken is tender and 'slippery' in texture. For those who are not familiar with this cuisine, they usually complained that the chicken is not well cooked.

The other favourite of mine is the Char Keow Teow (stir fried flat rice noodles with prawns, bean sprouts and eggs). The menu items have interesting names though they are common dishes . Each item is prefixed with a place name in Singapore where you can find a best stall or hawker centre that serves that particular dish. For example, the Racecourse Char Keow Teow served is in the 'style' that is found in Racecourse (a place in Singapore). Other items are: Lorong Melayu Nasi Goreng, Katong Chicken Laksa.

I have never asked Alan where he is originated from, as I assumed he must have come from Singapore. The restaurant proclaimed that the food served are authentic "Singaporean heritage cuisine". All menu items are street food (or hawker food) that are common in Singapore and Malaysia.

The restaurant from outside looks like an typical Asian takeway with banners shouting for attention, but when you stepped inside, it has an interesting decor, reminiscent of 70's with pink walls and photos of Singapore's colonial days. I quite like the ambient (have only dined here during the day).

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