This restaurant has now closed
Does it seem like to you that there are suddenly now numerous places to eat Malaysian /Singaporean food? It seems only a few years ago that there were only 2 or 3 restaurants. Walking through Chinatown and World Square, it looks like many more have sprung up. Not a bad thing, you understand of course. Quite good in fact for a Malaysian/Singaporean food lover like myself. A little further afield, tucked away behind Thornleigh station off West Pennant Hills Road lies a small restaurant that has been offering Singaporean and Malaysian Hawker style goodies for a few years now. At almost an hour's drive away, it's not exactly nearby to us so we made it a Sunday adventure to drive out to Thornleigh and check out some other foodie eats and enjoy the drive to the outskirts of Sydney.
Arriving at 6pm when it opens, we're greeted with a welcoming sight. It's rapidly filling with Singaporean/Malaysian clientèle (always a good sign for authenticity). We order a Roti Canai with Lamb curry ($11.80); Chicken and Prawn Laksa ($13.80) and a bowl of Chicken Rice ($2.50) and for dessert Ice Kacang ($5.50). Alice, who takes our order is friendly and happy to recommend dishes. The Laksa arrives quickly, within 5 minutes, and we dive in. There's a mix of Hokkien noodles (my favourite) and vermicelli noodles (my husband's favourite) as well pieces of soft chicken, large prawns, tofu cubes and fish cake. A scarlet orange pool of oil floats across the top and diving in to retrieve the long noodles risks a scarlet splash on your clothes but it's well worth it. The taste is rich, creamy and subtle, not as pungent as some Laksa and the beautifully soft and toothsome chicken (from the Hainan chicken rice) is a particular highlight.
The roti, three accordion like discs, are served along with the tender lamb curry. The roti is tissue paper thin and delicious, although not as buttery as I've made at home. What it does have is the roti "clap" which produces the air in the roti. When the roti is cooked, you hold it so that the roti is horizontal with both hands open vertically balancing each end. You then "clap" your hands together to "crush" it lightly and create the folds. The lamb pieces, although a little sparse, are beautifully soft and at first the curry sauce seems too plentiful but every bit is soaked up with the delicate roti.
The chicken rice ($2.50), a rice bowl dome of lightly fragrant rice is lovely and I vow to try the chicken rice next time.
It's time for our dessert, one that I've enjoyed in the sweltering heat of Singapore many a time - Ice Kacang ($5.50). I have my fingers crossed that we'll get a similar multi hued shaved iced concoction and I am not disappointed. Streaks of pink syrup, gula melaka syrup (like molasses), and sweetened condensed milk trail down the tower of shaved ice and on top lies some vivid green intensely sweet palm seeds and dragonfruit seeds. And Ice Kacang is always hiding a surprise - at the bottom there is grass jelly, sweetened red beans and squiggly cendol. It's lovely, refreshing and sweet and whilst it's not as hot as it is in Singapore, it's a lovely way to end the meal.
Unfortunately, as it's a Sunday night, they've completely sold out of their Kueh (little cakes). Kueh (or Kuih) is what makes Alice famous and they're little sweets that are made with rice flour, grated coconut, tapioca, coconut cream originally created by the Nonya people. Indeed I've heard that she makes it as good or even better than the ones in Singapore and that they literally sell like hot cakes so that it is necessary to ring ahead to reserve them. I really wanted to try the Kuih Ang Koo, the bright red patterned cakes filled with mung beans. Looks like I'll have to make a special trip out here again-for research purposes you understand...
Makan @ Alice's
This restaurant has now closed
Shop 3, Bellevue Street, Thornleigh
262-264 Pennant Hills Road
Tel/Fax: +61 (02) 9484-8288
Lunch: Tuesday - Sunday 11:30am - 2:30pm
Dinner: Thursdat - Sunday 6:00pm - 9:00pm