A writer living in Balwyn, Melbourne, who will do anything for good food, books, dogs and crime fiction
Published May 28th 2012
The word on many Malaysian mouths, facebook walls and twitter messages since April is the arrival of PappaRich, a true Malaysian decadence in Doncaster. With two more outlets in Chadstone and QV Building Melbourne city centre, this household Malaysian name is set to make many happy Melbournians.
PappaRich Doncaster is huge, surrounded by ample car park space on its grounds. The décor is contemporary and pleasing to the eye. On cold, rainy days, umbrella-ed staff members run to get you from your vehicle. This is definitely the Malaysian signature hospitality.
Warm lightings and dark wood fixtures make the restaurant welcoming and cozy, like coming home to a friend after a long journey. Indeed we have endured a long journey of disenchanting Malaysian fare, pre-PappaRich era.
The initial opening saw too many patrons complaining of long queues and even longer waits for food. But the trio Soon, Willie and Peter, at this Doncaster branch quickly arrested the problem. They now promise the delivery of food under seven minutes after ordering. What one has to do is simply tick your orders on the slips provided at the table. Press the button at the table and a member of staff will take it off your hands and fire the order to the kitchen.
The menu outlines an impressive array of beloved home specialities, namely the roti canai segment. PappaRich features their very own Roti Canai man who can be seen through the glass viewable kitchen, flipping Roti Canai dough high and with great style. On offer are Roti Canai, Roti Telur (egg version), Roti Bom, with various curries and meats. The Roti is fluffy, flavourful and the curry presents a fiery finish to the buttery Indian bread. Would highly recommend the Roti Telur.
Char Koay Teow (fried broad noodles with cockles, egg, chives and bean sprouts) is usually the yardstick for a Malaysian restaurant. Do that well, and you'll have throngs of devotees to your outlet. PappaRich Char Koay Teow and Wat Tan Hor (combination seafood hor fun) exude the full 'breathe of the wok', a smoky flavour infused with lard or crispy pork fat. Since we are on the noodle train, the Ipoh Hor Fun is smooth and silky, with delicious steamed chicken and soups. The chicken meat is tender and smooth and juicy. Not to be sidelined, the Wonton Noodle is flavoured well and great with crispy wontons or curry chicken.
For the more adventurous, the Briyani Rice with deep fried chicken, sambal eggplant and prawns is a real treat. The prawns are succulent with piquant tastes of kaffir lime and coriander, a most delightful combination.
My 84-year-old mother, not an easy person to impress, thoroughly enjoyed her congee with steamed chicken. The sauce that goes with the steamed chicken had her questioning the staff about the brand of soya sauce they use. This even elucidated a smile from her.
And I have not even started on the drinks and desserts. There must be hundreds of coffee, milo, tea and milk concoctions, not to mention the 'cham peng' phenomenon where we Malaysians love to sip combinations of tea with coffee, coffee with Milo, tea with Milo etc.
The Dinosaur Milo is a must try, sweet condense-milked Milo with sprinkles of rich Milo powder on top of the drink. Calories guaranteed to go down to your thighs but oh so good…
The Tau Foo Far (soft creamy bean curd) with Gula Melaka (a type of brown sugar from Malaysia) is as authentic as the ones we get at home. The creamy bean curd slides smoothly down and leaves a sweet note in the mouth. A beautifully light dessert that is healthy and protein rich.
The only disheartening note was the banana fritter with ice cream and caramel / maple syrup. Nothing wrong with the ice cream or syrup but the banana fritter tasted like battered potato. A ripened, sweeter banana should have been employed for this dish.
Other than that, the menu is so extensive and full of variety that it'll take a few trips (and many yards of colon space) to try everything out.
Enticing inspiration for returnees are the deep fried chicken wings and for brave hearts – the deep fried chicken skin. The Indian Mee Goreng (spicy Indian style fried yellow noodles) promises to sizzle one's tastebuds. Upon hearsay from many of my friends, the satay leaves you wanting more and half a dozen sticks are simply not enough.
On the whole, the PappaRich experience is the flagship for the Malaysian style of dining where we celebrate flavour, variety and plenty of spice. Open daily from 11am to 11pm, it also caters to another Malaysian habit of being able to eat good food all day, all night.
Roti Canai with a choice of curry or tandoori chicken