After spending two years living in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, I developed a lifetime love of Malaysian food. From spicy sambal to earthy satay, Malaysian food is a melange of flavours from Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian and ethnic Bornean traditions. Upon returning to Australia, I sought out these familiar flavours, only to find that Malaysian restaurants were few and far between, and those that existed didn't quite pack the same punch.
But then I slipped inside Malaya Corner, a Malaysian restaurant in the heart of Sunnybank and it was like being transported back in time to the noise and bustle of Jalan Petaling (Petaling Street) in Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown. Even the heat and humidity in the carpark took me there. (It was summer storm season after all.) Fortunately, the restaurant was air-conditioned, and the service was brisk. We settled back with lemon tea and teh tarik (black tea, with sugar, condensed milk, and evaporated milk mixed to frothy perfection) to browse the extensive menu.
Among the street food favourites on offer are roti canai (golden flaky flatbread) served with a choice of chicken, beef or lamb curry; Hainanese chicken rice, and char keow teow (stir-fried ho-fun noodles served with prawns, calamari, fish cakes, Chinese sausage and bean sprouts).
My companion opted for the mee goreng (stir-fried Hokkien noodles served with seafood, tofu and tomato) with just enough spice to raise a sweat. I dived into a plate of nasi lemak - a staple comprising Malaysian coconut rice with curry chicken and beef rendang, served with ikan bilis (fried anchovies), egg, and pickled vegetables.
To cool off afterwards, we shared an ice kacang (crushed ice in rose syrup, palm sugar, and condensed milk, with corn, red bean and jellies, served with ice cream). Bringing back good memories were other desserts including sago pudding in coconut milk with palm sugar, black glutinous rice with coconut milk and deep fried ice cream.
A visit to Malaya Corner is a way to enjoy an exotic tropical getaway without leaving the city. There's also a sister restaurant at Mt Ommaney in Brisbane's western suburbs.