With this hot humid heat, I had a craving for Singapore and Malaysian cuisine. It's interesting to know that curries originated in hot climates. The flavours of chilli and spice combined create a fire that heats you from the inside and out and the body's natural cooling mechanism of sweating cools you down.
So it's curry weather that brings me to Temasek for an early lunch which also coincides with picking up a new tripod for my other favourite hobby. Having visited Singapore last year, I couldn't stop raving about the amazing food that I had there. An interesting fact for you, Temasek, means Sea Town in Old Javanese and was the name of an early city on the site of modern day Singapore.
As I wasn't heading to Singapore anytime soon, the next best thing was to visit a word of mouth Parramatta venue. Friends swear by this place for the "first and only authentic Singaporean and Malaysian cuisine" as Temasek claims. With such a review, I certainly wanted to see if it lived up to its reputation. This eatery is tucked into a little arcade of small businesses beside the restored art deco nightclub, Roxy.
Arriving just before 12noon, the air-conditioned comfort of being indoors had already drawn a crowd so we decide to sit outdoors especially with two fidgets in tow. The crowd is a mix of young families with kids in tow, mates having a quick lunch and family get togethers. There are cloth tablecloths inside but outside is just the outdoor dining tables and chairs with paper napkins and plastic tumblers, a definitely plus as the kids weren't going to have any accidents with this table setting.
Perhaps it would have been better with a crowd to try all the dishes or to have given a couple of days' notice to get the house specialties such as Singapore chilli crab. As the lunch time peak hits, the food comes at a fast pace too.
The waiter hands out menus as soon as we decide to sit outdoors. Opening the pages up to laksas, sambal (spicy dishes), assam (tamarind dishes), serai (lemongrass dishes) and classics of the region such as gado gado, char kway teow and nasi goreng. The difficulty is what to order with so much choice.
We kick off with the Hainanese chicken rice, a classic steamed slice chicken with a bowl of chicken broth and mound of rice cooked in stock. Such simple clean flavours and so good that the kids devour this dish even smearing a bit of the soy sauce but staying clear of the chilli sauce. The char kway teow, stir fried rice cake strips with chinese sausage, prawns, beansprouts and soy was ordered for the kids but they weren't keen so the adults could finally make a start on our meal.
Couldn't go past Nasi Lemak with the beef rendang sambal prawns served up with acar (a spicy vegetable pickle that are crispy and with abit of zing), ikan bilis (fried anchovies), boiled eggs and sambal chilli. Chicken satays arrive with a side bowl of peanut sauce that my 2 year old happily grabs and dips into the sauce mimicking our every move.
We ordered a couple of roti canai to share, but was disappointed that they didn't come with any curry on the side. I definitely ordered more than I should have but I loved the chilli punch of the beef rendang. It was a good move ordering a chendol to calm the tastebuds after the spicy aftermath of the meal. Chendol is a traditional dessert made from shaved ice, coconut milk, green starched noodles with pandan flavouring and palm sugar. It was a particularly good one with the dark caramelised palm sugar syrup and shaved ice, perfect for such a hot day.
The staff introduced themselves and entertained the kids with lollypops, the kids thought they were the best after that sweet tidbit. Overall, it was a positive and authentic experience with a few frills bustling with localis. I'd happily return - but next time we'd book 48 hours ahead, bring hordes of people so I can try everything on the menu.
Food: Authentic Singaporean-Malaysian and full of flavour. Service :Temasek is not the most glamorous venue but it makes up for it in the efficiency and unpretentious service. Atmosphere: Bustling with locals and great for families kids Value: Reasonable but not a super-cheap: $74 for four.