1/50-58 Hunter St
Sydney, NSW 2000
In preparation for my Thailand trip, cheap and cheerful has been the name of the game recently. Luckily, even in a city as expensive as Sydney, there’s still plenty of delicious food to be had for the penny-pinchers if you know where to look. And Malay Chinese Takeaway has been one of those places since 1987.
Malay Chinese Takeaway is pretty much exactly what it promises to be – a canteen-like establishment specialising in Chinese-influenced Malaysian dishes. The laksa is their biggest drawcard, the 13 different variations bringing in punters from all across the CBD and beyond. Laksa aside, there’s also a fair selection of fried noodles, curries, and stir-fries for those who prefer something a little less soupy. I’ve also heard that they do a very mean har mee, but unfortunately that goodness is restricted to Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only – fair enough, given that it apparently takes something like 7 hours to make.
My go-to choice is the classic Chicken and Prawn Laksa ($12.7). The broth had a promisingly creamy appearance, its surface dappled with a slick of bright red chilli oil. Admittedly, this wasn’t as punchy as I had hoped; I’m not quite sure what’s missing, as the balance between the complex medley of spices and the sweet creaminess of the coconut milk was note-perfect, and the chicken was admirably tender. It was certainly a great bowl of noodles that I would be happy to have any day, though I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s my favourite like many people do.
I also prefer my laksa to have a combination of thin vermicelli and thick yellow noodles for some textural variety, but I was nevertheless impressed with the way these noodles retained their toothsome texture down to the very last bite. And I will concede that they soaked up the flavours of the broth wonderfully.
Char Kway Teow ($12.5) is of my favourite Malaysian dishes. The rendition here is as good as any I had in Malaysia, the charred, smoky noodles tossed through with all the trimmings, including prawns, fish cakes, and Chinese sausage. It is incredibly heavy, but the richness was cut through with a generous handful of still-crunchy bean sprouts. If I had to make one criticism, it would be the lack of cockles, but it was good enough all-up for me not to mind in the slightest.
There’s not much to say about Malay Chinese Takeaway that hasn’t already been said over the last 30-plus years. To sum it up succinctly, it’s a great place to go if you want a quick, cheap, and authentic Malaysian meal that has stood the test of time.
Rating: 13.5/20 – real laksa hours.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.