Opening up a restaurant in close proximity to other restaurants of a similar theme can be a bit of a double-edge sword. While you may very well attract patrons of your neighbouring restaurants for their next meal in the area, you will also invariably invite comparisons between you and the three other modern-ish Asian diners with whom you are lined up with in a row. This is a comparison that Nanyang Malaya Cafe handles well.
We started with the chicken wings (6 for $10). I thought that I had gotten my photo in before my partner could steal one, but this photo is clearly evidence to the contrary. These were pretty good, marinated in a spicy curry-like marinade and coated in a crispy light starch batter (which contrasts with the breading used in most Western styles of fried chicken). The meat beneath the batter was suitably moist, though probably not at the 99th percentile of moistness as far as fried chickens go. The Terasi chilli sauce was a bit shrimpy but still enjoyed by my partner, which is a success in and of itself. The pickled vegetables were welcome but would not have been missed were they not present.
The Hainanese chicken ($21) was a pretty reasonable amount of food for the price, presented in a keto-friendly arrangement of just the good proteinaceous and vegetable bits without any chicken rice or soup (it is available also as a set for those who like the classics). The chicken had quite a mild flavour but was helped along by the solid ginger and chilli sauces, and I felt this was overall quite a good option.
The curry puffs (2 for $9) are a bit smaller than at Albee’s, less elaborate in their filling, but in no way worse overall. They came with a simple filling of potato, chicken, and curry, but with good flavour with an unexpected hint of star anise. The puff pastry was light and flaky, and this was ultimately quite a pleasurable puff.
The curry fish fillet ($26) came as a large pot of ling fillet cooked with vegetables (ocra – to my partner’s dismay, beans ,onions, and tomato) in a yellow curry. The use of ling as the protein was commendable as I’m sure they would’ve gotten away with a cheaper fish like basa, though the ling did exhibit a stronger (and welcome) texture which you wouldn’t otherwise get. The flavour of the curry was thoroughly enjoyable, if not really soaked up by the fish, and I think this dish would have been even better with some rice.
I enjoyed everything I ate at Nanyang Malaya Cafe, and had a much better time overall than when I ate at its neighbouring modern-Asian restaurant. I can recommend a visit.
Nanyang Malaya Cafe
Marrickville Metro G001, 20 Smidmore St, Marrickville NSW 2204
0422 598 037