I was pleasantly surprised when I entered the Springfield Garden restaurant. The outside looked just like any other Chinese restaurant/takeaway, but the decorations inside spoke a different story. Used to Chinese takeaways having a lack of ambience and atmosphere, I was taken aback at the beautiful, modern artwork adorning the lavender painted walls. On close inspection, the exquisite artwork was on sale from a nearby art gallery which was a wonderful symbiotic business relationship.
I soon found out that management had changed two years ago, and the new owner did a major overhaul, increasing focus on customer service. She had also revamped the menu, now newly created by a Malaysian Indian chef, thus increasing its authenticity.
I love Malaysian food and have tasted the local fare in places like Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Malacca. I was eager to test the authenticity of the dishes but kept my anticipation in check as in the past, only a few Malaysian restaurants outside the country have passed the taste test.
I ordered the popular hawker dish 'char kuey teow' which is actually stir-fried ricecake strips ($11.90 a dish). I had a choice of mild, medium or hot. Used to Australian versions not matching up to the fiery spicyness of South East Asia, I was tossing up between medium or hot but settled for medium. I was glad I did because the dish came and it was quite spicy. I had a healthy dose of water, lucky that I did not follow through with my earlier over-confidence of my tolerance for chilli.
What stood out was the amount of ingredients in my dish and the large portions served. Traditionally, 'char kuey teow' is stir fried on high heat with soy sauce, prawns, slices of chinese sausages, fish cakes, bean sprouts, deshelled cockles and crisp croutons of pork lard. My dish came with all of the above except for cockles and Chinese sausages but instead, I had barbecued pork and seafood. You can change the ingredients according to your personal preferences. I opted out of the beef. Despite the difference in ingredients to the traditional dish, it did taste quite authentic and delicious. Best of all, the helping was generous which made it value for money. Never before had I seen a $11.90 dish come with a generous mix of squid and fish cake. The big clincher was the big pieces of prawn.
My dining partner ordered a curry laksa (also $11.90). Curry laksa is a coconut-based spicy curry noodle soup. The helping was equally as large and according to him, it tasted really good. Nothing at all like the imported laksa packets you can buy from the supermarket. The owner assured me that their laksa is made from scratch. The delicious laksa noodle soup came with prawns, squid, barbecue pork, vermicelli, fried onions and beansprout.
Not only did we get huge helpings, we were offered complimentary prawn crackers as an entrée and we had lollies and fortune cookies for dessert. We were swept off our feet by the customer service from attentive professional waitresses in traditional Malaysian costume, something we did not expect for such a reasonably priced meal. The prices on the menu were similar to the restaurants in Chinatown, Fortitude Valley and Sunnybank but with much better service.
It is little wonder that they have regular customers coming back again and again to try out their huge variety of dishes and selections, only to be spoilt by the entire experience. A favourite place for local birthday parties and weddings, Springfield Garden is definitely a little hidden gem in this part of town. With a new train station being built just around the corner, it is only time until this restaurant is inundated by new customers as they discover this tasty little restaurant at Springfield Marketplace.
Try their lunch specials at a very reasonably priced $7.90 or come back to choose from their large menu.
Will definitely try it out next time I'm down that way. It's hard to find a "decent" Asian restaurant around South West Brissie that's worth the money you pay.
Another decent Asian restaurant in the SW Brissie is Tran Tran Vietnamese & Asian restaurant on Grand Avenue in Forest Lake. Great food,decent prices and great service, whether you eat in or take away.