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The food court in Westfield Sydney is overrun with levels on levels selling everything from churros to spaghetti bolognese and beyond. Stylish eateries and bars line up alongside the purveyors of fast food and leave you completely at a loss as to what to get. And then beyond the racket and the milling crowds you spot Mood for love scrawled across the wall like a politician's signature pointing to an elaborately artistic doorway. And the Chinta Ria experience begins.
A hand-written message on a torn-off cardboard tells you to wait to be seated. Even as you read the last word, admire the gigantic laughing Buddha, and take in the fact that you're in a place that serves Malaysian cuisine, a friendly young person invites you in to be seated. It is dark inside and saved from being pitch dark by strategically placed candles in red holders. Splendid ambience and just perfect for couples who want to pretend they're the only ones left alive after a catastrophe wiped out the rest of humanity.
As your sight adjusts to the darkness you begin to see the beautiful décor and the snazzy furniture. Our nimble waiter quickly returns with the menu. Bear with me as I describe this piece of ingenuity. It's a bunch of aged A4 size papers filed together and put into a yellow folder much like an old movie screenplay. The contents reveal neatly typed entrees, mains, desserts, drinks, and more. I really took my time with that menu not just reading it but also feeling it and wondering at the creative simplicity. The names of some dishes however, did come across as cheesy.
And then we got down to business and ordered Chicken Satay and Sassy Rolls for starters followed by Beef Rendang and Nasi Lemak. Kiss Kiss turned out to be a delightful cocktail with a hint of ginger and pineapple. The food arrived all too soon just as we got absorbed in the movie that was projected on the wall. Apparently the owner Simon Goh is not just a world-class restaurateur but also quite the movie buff. Now the screenplay menu made sense.
The food was nicely presented and served warm. The Beef Rendang was flavourful even though the beef itself could have come off a better cut. The Nasi Lemak was just perfect and went very well with the Rendang. I passed on dessert as I'm still working on that holiday weight but my partner went for the Chilled Durian Sesame which he claimed was different yet okay. That fruit does have a peculiar flavour but he didn't seem to mind.
Overall, the Chinta Ria Mood for Love experience left us feeling satiated. The prices were just short of outlandish, but this is Sydney and we were taking a break from work and so didn't really care. The service was prompt, cheerful, and efficient. The interior of this restaurant is the darkest I've ever seen but it appears to work just fine. I've a feeling it disguises just how small and cramped this place could be if there was a bit of wattage lighting it all up. Silk cushions and long drapes complimented the sensual feel of the place and come to think of it the place is called Mood for Love.