16 May 2011

Sassy's Red by Chinta Ria: Malaysian, Westfield Sydney (14 May 2011)

Level 5, Westfield Sydney
Cnr Market and Castlereagh St Sydney NSW 2000

Creating their own style of dishes

With the release of lots of new eateries on Level 5 of Westfield Sydney it seems to have reignited a feeding frenzy amongst the lunch time crowd. I'm suspecting it's due to everyone wanting to try something new so time will tell if people are willing to pay the higher prices and if it meets their expectations. I'm always drawn to trying Malaysian dishes so I give Sassy's Red a go. My friend orders the Chinta Laksa with chicken and sugar snap peas in a spicy coconut curry soup ($12) which is quite heavy on the coconut cream. It's unusual to see sugar snap pea in a laksa but I guess this is Sassy's way of making it different. I'm all for getting my intake of greens but it's an unexpected combination. There's a lack of soup broth due to the amount of noodles being used making the laksa more sauce-like rather than soup-like. I still prefer Malay-Chinese for my favourite laksa in the city for it's style and depth of flavour.

My Donny's Chicken Rice ($11) comes with fragrant ginger infused rice served with chicken, ginger, shallots and chilli sauce. When I see chicken rice on a Malaysian menu I think of the classic Hainanese Chicken Rice but this version is far from it. It includes sliced cucumber and tomato but that's where it ends. Served in a bowl I think there's an oversupply of rice for the dish making it more like Donny's Rice + Chicken. The chicken is fried but unfortunately is a bit dry inside and doesn't have that freshly cooked to order quality you'd expect of a crispy skin with moist juicy meat. I'm not sure where the ginger and shallots come into play but I'm assuming with the chilli sauce perhaps. I think the description is a bit misleading, especially to any Malaysian visiting a Malaysian eatery. A side soup would have helped to wash down the rice. The side of lettuce was looking a little sad and didn't really add anything to the dish except for the colour green. I would have preferred freshly cut iceberg lettuce to mix with the rice like a Vietnamese salad.

After eating and passing by Sassy's Red I bumped into the passionate owner Simon Goh who seemed like a very likable and down-to-earth guy. He mentioned how they're trying to create their own take on Malaysian dishes to make them more unique. I guess there's some credit to be given in trying to do so but I think there's also a danger that expectations won't be met if the menu is alluding to the classic Malaysian dishes which are highly sort after by many devotees. I hope to find some dishes on the menu that I like which might meet my expectations of how it's described and named.

PROS: Central location amongst many other eateries, Selected seating for customers but limited, Buzzer used for orders, Menu dishes sound tempting to try
CONS: Expensive compared to other Malaysian eateries around town, Seating is limited during peak times, Dishes seem to have been Westernised and not as authentic as hoped
MUST TRY: Other dishes on the menu to compare

Chinta Laksa with chicken and sugar snap peas in a spicy coconut curry soup ($12)

Donny's Chicken Rice: Fragrant ginger infused rice served with chicken, ginger, shallots and chilli sauce ($11)

Lettuce looking a little bit too beaten up

For me it was an excessive amount of rice in the bowl

I spotted the same chicken dish served on a plate due to probably running out of bowls but I think it's a more appropriate dish to serve it on

Menu board

Buzzer to notify you when your order is ready — pretty good idea

Simon Goh owner

Customer seating and service counter


simon@sassysred said...

Hi Simon,Sassy's is all about comfort meals and authenticity is all subjective. Chicken rice as per our menu was not liken to Hainanese chick rice as we do not offer a soup and pak cham kai (steamed chick) as required for name sake hence Donny's chick rice.After much trial, fried soya basted chicken was the preferred choice. Chinta Laksa as it is known as a hearty soup for the same reason otherwise it will be known as curry laksa aka soup laksa ..oh ! slightly expensive but it's Fifth floor at W.. An experience itself :-))

Hungry Female said...

The look and feel of the thedmenu looks straight outta Malaysia!

Anonymous said...

I'm Malaysian and I have to say so far, I've been impress with the authenticity of the food. But we'll see how it fares up in the next couple of months. Being a mother of two who cooks malay dishes all the time I can say the flavours are as close to hawker food as you can get in Sydney - that is if you like the wok fire flavour. If you enjoy Mamak you will find this place rather agreeable. Although I prefer my chicken rice at another place in the city.

BGDino said...

Hmmm... I walked past here on Sunday but didn't go in. Maybe I'll have to return for the laksa... and maybe a teh tarik to go with it!

MissyQ said...

I beg to differ because I eat here pretty often, and yes the same two dishes that i choose from the cute menu board depending on my gut, or rather share and exchange dishes with my friends so i get to eat everything after all haha!

So far no complaints from anyone, and wow excessive amount of rice? maybe you're too conscious on maintaining your gay physique? lol. Don't be too hard on them common, I'm sure they're doing what they can for us hungry species :)

thang @ noodlies said...

OMG, another restaurant opening at Westfield Sydney... the food looks alright!

Anonymous said...

Hi Simon,

Can you define what exactly is authenticity?

The challenge for restaurateurs today is juggling a complex equation of food flavours, restaurant concept and business savvy to give the majority of customers what they want.

Your idea of a "perfect" laksa or chicken rice might be your own experience which is also subjective.

Successful restaurateurs look at the overall experience and have their pulse on the big picture while food reviewers like yourself are just what you are ... reviewing food according to a subjective and narrow concept of "authenticity" alien to the majority of Sydney's dining audience.

Simon Food Favourites said...

hi sassy simon, the westfield food court is definitely much cleaner than others so that's an experience in itself. i guess when i see chicken rice and laksa on a malaysian menu i have certain expectations but you're right about creating your own style.

hi hungry female, keep in mind they're doing their own take on the dishes so it might not quite be what you're expecting

hi anonymous, i love the wok fire flavour although there are places that i think you'll find they do it better because Sassy's is trying to provide a very quick service so there's little time to get a smokey flavour in certain dishes. where's the chicken rice place you enjoy the most?

hi BGDino, let me know what you think if you try

hi missyQ, by the time i got to the rice i had no chicken left so if it was on a plate i think it would have been better.

hi thang, westfield sydney has no shortage of food options now

hi anonymous, you've made some very valid points. food is very subjective and one person's love is another one's hate sometimes. my food adventure is about what I like and prefer so i guess authenticity or not doesn't really come into the picture perhaps which is hard to define anyway in any real certain terms.

Licious Lill said...

Went to Sassy's Red today, took me back to hawkers markets in Penang. It was so hard to choose from so many delicious selections so we ended up having the laksa, curry chicken and roti chanai... IT WAS SO GOOD! Next time I'll try the beef rendang and donny's chicken rice.

bob said...

I gotta say; after 2-3 awful laksas in the city elsewhere; this with it rich and good quality produce is where I'm going to head to everytime now. I just prefer it.

Simon Leong said...

hi bob, where have you tried so far? have you been to Malay-Chinese for laksa?

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