I'll admit this is not a fancy restaurant and neither does it try to be. The bright green walls of the place do little to complement the plain layout. The furniture is mismatched: there are small plastic tables and bigger wooden ones accompanied by a variety of different chairs. The deco and ambience of the place could do with an improvement because I'd personally be turned away from this restaurant if I happened to just walk by.
The barrage of posters cluttering the front windows do nothing for me
Good thing that I wasn't just walking by though; I was recommended by a fellow Malaysian friend to try this place as, according to her, it was the most authentic Malay street-hawker food you could find in Adelaide. Perhaps it's because the food is simple street-hawker style food that they've decided it wasn't necessary to focus too much on the ambience.
The restaurant might not look good but the food sure tastes good. Upon entering Swinging Bowl, you go to the counter and place your order. You can choose classic Malaysian dishes like nasi lemak, beef rendang , curry chicken and oh-so-spicy sambal, to name a few. Now, Malaysian cuisine is usually more spicy but the food here has been toned down so it shouldn't be a problem unless you're totally intolerant of spicy food.
In Malay, 'lemak' translates to fat and 'nasi' means rice. So this is technically 'fatty rice'. But it's actually just coconut rice, topped with some sambal, an egg, cucumbers, anchovies and usually Malay-style fried chicken. A spoonful of this made me feel like I was back in Malaysia, having this in a Malay-hawker stall. Thumbs up for great tasting and authentic nasi lemak!
The chicken curry is just fantastic; it's so flavourful and aromatic. The chicken pieces have been cooked quite long in the curry so they're extremely tender and packed with curry. There's also a bit of belacan at the side of the dish; delicious, but a huge no-no to anyone who can't handle their spicy food. I consider myself to be a fan of spiciness but even I have trouble eating that.
The rice of this dish is called biryani, a type of spiced rice that I feel goes very well with curry. It was very authentic and delicious, especially when drizzled over with the curry. I especially loved the beef rendang. The meat was firm yet tender and full of flavourful spices. I'm beginning to salivate again thinking about it.
The portions, as you can see from the pictures, are very generous, and in fact so is the price. You can get each meal for below $15 and if you're a student, you can flash them your student card and get a discount. I think this place is only open during the day so no going here for dinner. I'll definitely be back here to get my Malay street-hawker food fix and it won't even kill my wallet.
We used to go regularly to this place, so we're going back now too. After having lived for a long time in SE Asia, I also agree that the food here is as authentic as you're going to get in Adelaide... and the prices here are fantastic. You also get a student discount at Knoodle Junction, where the food and prices are great too.