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Published November 1st 2012
You won't find a canal here
A visit to Melbourne would never be complete without a good dose of Malaysian street-food. I thought I would forgo my favourite eating places on this trip; instead I would go on a new food adventure in uncharted territories, experiencing different hawker food styles at establishments new to me. Hence this brought me to Sue'z Delights in Clayton.
I decided on Sue'z Delights after consultation with Urbanspoon. Given a rating of 76% by them, it was a calculated risk I was willing to take. Reviews about the food were generally positive - "authentic" was a term tossed by Urbanspooners. The negative remark pointed at the shop owner's arrogance which was not at all a deterrent to me. With that magic word "authentic" ringing in my ears, I needed no persuasion to put my footstep across this threshold.
Treading with caution into the eatery, bracing myself to meet up with this deserving or undeserving owner. To my surprise, Victor was most welcoming. Greeting us with a jolly "Hello", his tone was warm and exuberant. In a Malaysian accent, he pursued, "Can you smell that? Do you know what it is? Prawn noodles. Special for today." Indeed, the aroma of prawn noodle broth was nostalgically intoxicating. Victor was anything like the character I had envisioned him to be.
Victor described his eatery as a fusion of Malaysian and Singaporean food. Born in Malaysia in the town of Malacca and schooled on the island of Penang, he later worked in Singapore. At Sue'z Kitchen, there are only two people who runs the eatery. Victor runs the front of the house and Sue, his wife, is the only chef. Hence when it gets busy, Victor explained it might take some time for the food to come out.
Victor was friendly and helped us navigate through the tidy list of food items chalked onto a wide narrow blackboard. Mainstays on the board appeared to be Char Kwei Tiau, Mee Goreng, Nasi Goreng and Fried Hokkien Noodles. "Wok Specials" are available every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. The weekend menu seems to be variable too with Nasi Lemak, Curry Kapitan, Nasi Soup Kambing and Mee Rebus as some of the other items.
You do not need a crystal ball to predict what will be available as Victor and Sue announces this on their Twitter page one week ahead of time. Well, at least that was what Victor told me. I suggest you confirm this and opening hours over the phone.
Dishes that can be cooked spicy can be ordered over a varying degree of hotness that is numbered on a scale from 1 to 10. With 1 meaning the absence of chilli, 10 may be hot enough to give you the breath of fire. I erred on the side of extreme caution and ordered three for my Penang Char Kwei Tiau.
Cheap and cheerful might be the words to describe Sue'z Delights. Purple feature walls, colourful plastic chairs and pale wooden tables are washed under the glow of fluorescent lights. A communal dining area is made by adjoining three wooden tables. Pressed up against the wall on the opposite side are two separate tables that could seat four each. A rack of gossip magazines against the front counter may help time pass quicker for those waiting for their food or those who have come in for takeaways. Next to this are salt and pepper seasonings, toothpicks and the likes. Jugs of cold water in the fridge are on a 'help yourself' basis with plenty of glasses nearby.
First to arrive was the Char Kwei Tiau. The flat rice noodles were unusually pale. Despite its deceptive colour, it was flavoursome. My only qualm was the absence of pork lard croutons (crunchy remains of rendered pork fat, also known as "chue yau char" in Cantonese) to give it that extra yum. Victor claimed that each plate of kwei tiau has to be individually wok tossed to ensure adequate wok-hei. Simply put wok-hei is the flavour, taste and essence imparted by a very hot wok during a stir-fry which is not easily replicated at home due to much smaller burners on conventional cooking tops. This is one of the criteria which marks a good char kwei tiau and at Sue'z Delights this dish passed the test.
The hae mee - prawn and pork with rice vermicelli and hokkien noodles came next. This has always been one of my favourite hawker food but it was unlike any hae mee I have ever eaten. The first thing that struck me was its rather red hue. My first mouthful was stunned with an overpowering taste of chilli. Though the broth had a lot of substance, it was quite thick and the spices too pungent for my liking. The addition of water spinach, a norm, would have helped to neutralise the sensation. The use of pork belly, instead of pork fillet or even pork ribs, was odd. Nonetheless, I did finish the broth to the last drop. It was a good tasty noodle soup dish, but it was not hae mee to me.
Lor Mai Kai - Sticky Rice with Chicken and Mushroom ($3.80)
Although it was a generous serve, the Lor Mai Kai was rather bland. There was too much glutinous rice to do honour to the pieces of chicken which is part and parcel of this dish.
There were desserts available to provide a sweet ending to lunch. However, we decided to forgo them, although I was initially eyeing the Ice Kacang.
A trip to Sue'z Delights concluded two things for me. Firstly, Victor is really quite a friendly guy and not the man as described on Urbanspoon. Secondly, the food at Sue'z Delights was not as truly Malaysian as I had hoped. This is just my personal opinion and in no way reflect what other Malaysians living in Melbourne think. One man's meat is another man's poison - give it a try and decide for yourself.
Ah, just discovered this one!
That explains some of the gaps in time for the reviews I subscribe to.
I was most surprised to see that you only ordered a number 3 though :-)
Thought a seasoned gourmand such as yourself would be around an 8 lol