17 February 2011

Malaysia Kitchen Food Market: Pop Up Restaurant Event, Sydney (17 Feb 2011)

The State Theatre Laneway, enter via George St opposite QVB

Sydney loves Malaysian-mania

It takes a certain amount of patience to line up for just over an hour before you actually get to sit and eat your lunch but in the end the perseverance is rewarded with a sampling of four Malaysian dishes for only $10. I arrived at around 11.50 am to a very long queue reaching towards The Hilton and discovered people had been queuing since 11.30 am to be the first in line. The event can sit a maximum of 80 people so once the first group are allowed in it's about 45 minutes until people from the second group are allowed to trickle in as seats become available — I ended up being the 113th position. I think there's a maximum of 250 covers per opening session. Receiving my raffle ticket group placing was like receiving the Willy Wonka Golden Ticket which I held on to tightly as it made me feel reassured of my eventual entry amongst a slightly unclear queuing system — clearer directions from staff would be helpful.

It was funny watching pedestrians walking past with expressions of what-the-hell-is-happening-here looks. Once you get to the front entry and pay your $10 you walk down a photo plastered laneway with joy to have finally made it in to unfortunately discover you've now arrived at the next queuing section — WTF. Oh well, it's all part of the experience I guess. You can order drinks at this stage but I think it would have been nice for complimentary cups of water to be made readily available at this point, especially if you've been waiting a very long time and it's a very hot day.

There are 15 restaurants listed as being part of the event and for each lunch and dinner a selection of four are chosen to provide 1 dish each. There doesn't seem to be a listing of when each one will be on so it's a bit of pot-luck of who you'll get on the day. Today's lunch starts with a Char Kway Teow from Kuali unfortunately uses pad thai style noodles rather than the wider Chinese rice noodles which I prefer. It's lacking a bit of robust char factor like you might find at Malay-Chinese Takeaway, Sayong or even Yummy Cuisine but it's pleasant enough. Next served is the
Roti Canai from the legendary
Mamak whose lineups are famous as well before opening.
The satay chicken had plenty of flavour but could have been a bit hotter in temperature to be even better and the roti was very good although that's what they're famous for doing so well.

serves up a Nasi Lemak which I surprisingly enjoy since I'm not usually a huge fan of this dish. My fellow Malaysian diner thought the rice could have been less wet and stuck together and the sambal seemed a bit watered down and could have had more kick to it which I tend to agree. To finish the
asi kunyit with beef rendang is served by
Kaki Lima and rich in flavour including some distinctive kaffir lime notes. I enjoyed this dish served with
turmeric glutinous rice. All in all if you can stomach the wait to get in I think it can be a very enjoyable dining experience to share with a few friends or even perhaps by yourself.
I'm suspecting if you dine alone you might even end up getting a bit more to eat because you wouldn't have to share your roti or rice. Enjoy if you're one of the lucky ones to get in before ending.

Opening hours (I suggest arrive as early as possible):
Wed 16 Feb 2011: 6 – 9 pm
Thu 17 Feb: 12 noon – 3 pm & 6 – 9 pm
Fri 18 Feb: 12 noon – 3 pm & 6 – 9 pm

Other reviews and info of Malaysia Kitchen Food Market:
Grab Your Fork - Media Launch
Chocolatesuze - Media Launch
Jenius - Media Launch
The Heart of Food - Media Launch
Noodlies - First Night
Simon Food Favourites - 16 Feb visit
Simon Food Favourites - 17 Feb lunch

PROS: Good value ($10 gets you 4 sampling dishes), Nice decor and atmosphere with lanterns, Interesting location, Friendly staff albeit feeling a bit overwhelmed by the huge interest
CONS: Hugely popular so arrive as early as possible to line up (I suggest 30-60 mins), Weather permitting, During lunch you might be under direct sunlight, Drinks are expensive I believe, Dishes may not be as authentic as you hope but it's a good introduction
MUST TRY: Definitely worth visiting before it ends (it keeps being advertised as one week but seems to actually only be on for 3 days)

Video walk-through of Malaysia Kitchen Food Market from outside lineup through photo laneway and past kitchens and table seating

The queue at 11.50 am before the 12 noon open time

End of the queue at 11.50 am already stretching past Mick Simmons

My place ticket — now I feel reassured amongst the queue

Doors open at 12 noon for the first 80 people (minus VIP people on the guest list that don't have to queue up)

Laneway of photos

The inner sanctum line up where you're one step closer to getting to eat something — sugar levels running low but hold on

Drinks are available for purchase in the inner sanctum lineup — I believe beer or soft drink

Seating and decor

Chinese lanterns create a colourful ceiling which opens up to the sky — not sure how it'll cope with rain though

Table setting — you better like communal eating

Laneway seating

Mirrored surface create interesting surroundings and make the space feel a bit bigger and brighter

Sound system at the end of the laneway with mirrored signage — hey that's me in the mirror!

Kuali: Char Kway Teow - Stir-fry rice noodles with prawns, fishcakes, bean sprouts, egg and garlic chives (was shared between 2)

Mamak: Roti Canai with satay chicken served with a sweet and spicy peanut sauce (was shared between 2)

Jackie M: Nasi Lemak-Fragrant coconut rice accompanied with dried anchovy sambal, peanuts, egg, cucumber and achar (was shared between 2) — Hey, that's Ms Jackie M herself!

Kaki Lima: Nasi kunyit with beef rendang - Slow-cooked beef curry served with turmeric glutinous rice and cucumber slices on banana leaves (was shared between 2)

Table water — it's free and needed after all that lining up

Table cutlery — mirrored table looks cool but not if you're seated in a spot where the sun is directly above

Toilets available in the side entry to the State Theatre

Malaysian restaurants being showcased

Contact details and map flyer

Time of exit 1.35 pm — no queues now and some limited seating was still available if you're lucky. I think there's a maximum of 250 covers for each session.

Lunch time menu – Friday 18 Feb 2011
Lees Malaysian serving Vegetarian Gado Gado

Jackie M serving Nasi Lemak

Malacca Straits serving Penang Chicken Kapitan

Kaki Lima serving Jahoran chicken and beef satay served with peanut sauce, cucumber, onions and compressed rice

View Larger Map
Malaysia Kitchen Food Market on Urbanspoon


Iron Chef Shellie said...

looks so awesome!!

Jenius said...

I can already see that this event is gonna be bigger and better next year, lol

MelbaToast said...

I didn't make it inside...balked when I saw the queue, so thanks so much for your video walk through...it at least gave me a sticky beak at inside. Good to hear the viewpoint too from someone that had to endure the wait and long line ups. Glad it was worth it.

YaYa said...

Thanks, awesome! I took one look at the queue and decided I could eat more comfortably at the restaurants themselves but you did satisfy my curiosity about what it was like inside!

joey@FoodiePop said...

Good to see you went back Simon! :-) I would've baulked at the queue too; an hour just to sample four small plates of food? I'd rather go to the individual restaurants and order to my heart's content.

foodie and the chef said...

Wow I admire your determination ! Looks like it was fun.

Anonymous said...

For a moment I thought you arrived at 11:50 am to queue for dinner! :) Looks worth the wait.

loongy said...

If one person took a hit for the team and lined up early at say 11:30 and then the stragglers came later, is that possible?

How does the ticketing system work?


Brenda said...

Great value, but a very very long wait! Suppose the promoters didn't even realise how popular this event turned out to be.....hope they make a note for next year : )
Love the laneway of photos!!

susan said...

yeah I don't think I would be able to line up for that long, especially if it's during a lunch break! I am sure dinner will be more popular too.. great concept though.

ic hotels adelaide cbd said...

I really love the place, they do have nice food there. The only problem is that there are always many people there but it worths waiting though. Thanks for sharing.

Simon Food Favourites said...

hi shellie, was a great atmosphere once you're finally in.

hi jenius, let's hope it's bigger and better next year but i guess it'll loose it's intimacy then.

hi melbatoast, i don't blame you. a big lineup usually scares me aware but had to persevere.

hi yaya, hopefully it'll happen again next year.

hi joey, i usually prefer ordering at restaurants too but thankfully it was better than the usual night noodle market quality and ended up being better value.

hi foodie and the chef, determination sometimes pays off which it did this time around.

hi lateraleating, hehe that would have been pretty crazy if so.

hi loongy, that would have worked as some people actually did that and took extra tickets and waited for their friends to arrive.

hi brenda, i think if they did it for longer next year would help to give a chance for more people to try.

hi susan, definitely a hard one to manage if trying to fit into a restrictive lunch break.

hi ic hotels adelaide cbd, thanks for dropping by :-)

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