Sydney's Malaya Restaurant has spent nearly 50 years establishing itself as a culinary legend in Australia's Harbour City.
I have a long history with Sydney's famous Malaya Restaurant. Way back in the deep dark past, as an 18-year-old copy boy at News Ltd's Surry Hills headquarters, one of my most important duties was to keep an army of sub-editors fed at night while they prepared the next morning's Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph or The Australian. And one of their favourite take-away food joints was The Malaya Restaurant, then in George St, Haymarket.
So, at night a sheet of paper went round gathering who wanted what, the copy person got on the phone to the Malaya, ordered the exotic food, then was driven in an office car to the Malaya where we picked up a few bags of takeaway delights and brought them back to the ravenous hoards of sub-editors. (Meanwhile another copy person headed across the road to the Evening Star Hotel to get a case of VB or similar beer).
Back then I hadn't even heard of the food that was being ordered (honey chicken was about the extent of my "Asian" food experience). So, dishes like beef rendang and laksa were incredibly exotic. Occasionally, if my meagre wages could afford it, I would order a little something special for myself.
Fast forward a few decades, the Malaya had moved to its current abode at Kings Street Wharf, and I found myself (a newspaper middle-manager myself by then) at a series of delightful business lunches enjoying the amazing modern cuisine of the old journo favourite.
Fast forward another decade or so, and I am still going there. My most recent trip there, the first for several years, was with my wife on a weekend of celebrations for her birthday. And, the restaurant did not disappoint.
The food - and whole experience - was an absolute delight. To my wife's approval we were seated by the window with a clear view of the harbourside function/dinner/party boats and their patrons as they came and went through the evening.
My wife has gluten and lactose intolerances, but the attentive care of the Malaya staff ensured that this was not an issues.
We decided on a $65pp banquet-style meal, and it proved the perfect way to experience a wide variety of flavours.
Included in our meal was: pork san choy bow (pork mince stir-fried with water chestnuts, onion and shallots, served in a lettuce leaf); chicken satay; kwai du (flat rice noodles stir-fried with chicken, prawn, beansprouts, onion, shallots, chilli and egg); sayor otak (silken tofu, stir-fried mushrooms, vegetables, lemongrass and chilli paste wrapped in a banana leaf and barbecued); Singapore curry prawns (with mustard seeds, tamarind, tomato and eggplant); chicken rendang and stir-fried vegies.
It was substantial, filling, flavoursome and absolutely delicious. What a night. We will be back.