Kitchen Inn: Sarawak Food in Melbourne!

As many of you know, I am originally from Kuching, Sarawak in Malaysia. I have lived in Melbourne for almost 7 years and have been a food blogger for 2.5 years. During these many years, I have NEVER had Kolo Mee in Melbourne (unless I can be bothered to cook it at home myself), because as far as I was aware, there was no such thing as Kolo Mee in Melbourne! That is, until today.

Gee news travel fast! Kitchen Inn @ 469 Elizabeth St, Melbourne was just opened last week. Already, news about this new restaurant offering popular Sarawak cuisine e.g. Kolo Mee, Sarawak Laksa and Kampua Mee in Melbourne has spread across the Social Media scene. As soon as I was alerted to "go and do quality control" at Kitchen Inn, I immediately organised to drive up to the city pretty much the next day to try it out! After all, I am a true Sarawakian, born and raised there, and I have had many, many bowls of authentic Kolo Mee to be able to tell everyone else if Kitchen Inn's version is any good!!

We arrived at Kitchen Inn nice and early, before the lunchtime rush (it does get really busy at lunch time and sometimes people have to queue up and wait a while before getting a table!) but thankfully because we arrived just after 11am we got a table inside immediately.

Kolo Mee
We ordered 4 different dishes to try out, and I can already tell everybody this... don't bother ordering anything else, just ENJOY THE KOLO MEE because IT IS AWESOME. Don't bother ordering the "Kolo Mee Special" just order the regular Kolo Mee because you don't need to pay the extra $2.50 for just 3 extra prawns on top of the noodles. All you need is the BBQ pork and minced meat because that is all it takes to make this Sarawak noodle dish amazing. The noodles are not the exact type of noodles we would get back in Sarawak, they are not thin and curly, but they are good quality handmade noodles that have been tossed really well with the sauces and oils that make it so yummy. It was the perfect amount of "oiliness" not too oily, not too dry, and the right amount of sweet and salty which makes the Kolo Mee so unique. It really did make me forget I was in Melbourne for one split second! I was eating KOLO MEE!! It was so good, I decided to get some takeaway so I can stock them up in my freezer and get my fix later during the week without taking the long trip into the city, hehe.

Sarawak Laksa
We also ordered the Sarawak Laksa. I am not crazy about laksa like most people are, but because my sister was with me we ordered the laksa so she can be the main judge. The flavours were definitely there, and you can definitely taste the authentic Sarawak laksa flavours in this dish, but it just had too much coconut milk which made the soup taste too "milky" and less "punchy".

Penang Char Kuay Teow
The Char Kuay Teow was really not bad, it had all the right flavours and you can definitely taste the smoky flavours that comes from frying them on a really, really hot wok and there was even a little spicy "kick" to it. I have to admit because the noodles were a bit smaller than usual (I am used to the wider flat rice noodles that still retain a firm-ish texture) these noodles were a bit too soft and lacked the texture that "real" Kuay Teow should have. Oh well, it was still tasty nevertheless!

Bak Kut Teh
Finally, the Bak Kut Teh. It was alright... the meat wasn't soft enough, it definitely could've been boiling for a lot longer to make the meat super soft, melt in your mouth, and fall off the bone. The soup, had all the right flavours but not enough "punch" to it. If I am being honest, I still prefer the Bak Kut Teh from Coconut House just minutes down the road!

Reality is, this is Melbourne. We are not in Malaysia, and therefore we cannot expect 100% authentic Malaysian food. No matter where you go, it can never be exactly the same as it is back home. We use different fresh produce here, different ingredients, and majority of the local cuisines have been tweaked slightly to be able to cater to more Western tastebuds.

To me, this is as good as it gets (so far) if you are craving a Kolo Mee fix. I am definitely coming back for more Kolo Mee. Won't bother with other dishes next time, just bowls and bowls of Kolo Mee for me and my hubby please :)

Kitchen Inn on Urbanspoon

Chilli 'n' Chive Thai Restaurant & Tapas, Beaconsfield

A few weeks ago, hubby and I went to Chilli 'n' Chive Thai Restaurant in Beaconsfield for a friend's birthday dinner. We've never been to this restaurant neither did we even know of its existence! Turns out we've been missing out... it is quite a good Thai restaurant with a lovely restaurant atmosphere and great food. It was the perfect place to have friends come together for a meal, also a cosy place for couples to have their weekly (or monthly.. or yearly? Lol) date night.

Looking through the menu they have split the items into Small, Medium and Large meals, which I thought was pretty clever so people could decide what to have based on how hungry they were at the time. I wasn't too hungry, so I definitely wasn't interested in a full on large main meal. I did, however want to try a couple of different things. So I ordered a Small meal as well as a Medium.

Son-In-Law Eggs $10
For my entree, I had the famous Son-In-Law Eggs - soft boiled eggs then fried until crisp, with tamarind sauce, fried shallots and chillis.

The eggs were cooked beautifully, the way it should be. The yolk was still soft and gooey and even the egg whites stayed soft textured so combine that with its crisp outer layer, you get perfect son-in-law eggs. I wasn't a huge fan of the tamarind sauce though, I thought it was way too sweet for my liking, but that's just how Thai cuisine can be sometimes. They are a lot sweeter than other South East Asian cuisines.

Roast Duck and Lychee Salad $19
For my Medium main course, I had the Roast Duck and Lychee Salad with Ginger, Red Onion and Peanuts. It was a very interesting salad. I love roast duck, and I love lychees, but I've never had them together! Especially when combined with the strong flavours of ginger and red onion... and then suddenly BAM! Peanuts! It was a weird concoction... but I wanted to give it a try. In the end I found I really enjoyed it, but I ended up eating most of the components in this salad separately anyway. The roast duck and lychee combination was great, but it was too weird with ginger and red onion. I just wasn't sure.. and again, the salad dressing tasted too sweet! Was it just me? Maybe I'm just not a big fan of sweet savoury dishes. Savoury to me is meant to be salty, maybe a hint of sweet is great when coupled with a bit of acid (sour e.g. tomatoes, lemon, etc) but too much sweet and too much salty is just too weird for me.

In saying that, that duck was delicious and I love lychee so I ate most of the salads anyway.

Hubby had the Chicken Green Curry which was a very generous portion served with rice. They weren't kidding when they categorised the curries as a Large main meal! It was a great green curry, full of flavours and deliciously creamy. Perfect for when you're extra hungry!

Pad See Ew $18.90
Finally, my friend who sat next to me had the Pad See Ew - thick rice noodles with chinese brocolli and bean shoots - and I had a little taste and I am definitely ordering this one the next time I come back here! It was like a Thai version of the Malaysian Char Kuay Teow, very different yet similar because of the thick rice noodles used in this dish. I absolutely LOVED the flavours in this stirfry, loved the fact that the rice noodles have stayed intact and have not gone all mushy, loved the fact that I can have this and not feel guilty about not eating enough veggies because it is loaded with greens, LOVE the fact that they use Asian greens instead of western brocolli, carrots, etc. Love the peanutty flavour and the slight charcoal flavour from stirfrying it in a hot wok. Look forward to going back just to have a big plate of this and another serving of Son-In-Law eggs, hehe.

So overall, this restaurant definitely will go on my list of regulars (not that we go out that often) but we will definitely consider coming here again the next time we plan to dine out.

Chilli 'n' Chive on Urbanspoon