Tuesday, November 24, 2015

REVIEW: PappaRich

PappaRich, Brisbane CBD

'A Union of Indian, Chinese and Native Influences' 
by the Mr

We have all been there before. You have been slaving away at your homework and studying for hours when you and your study group realize it is time for lunch. In a group of students, everyone is bound to have a taste for something different. So, where do you go to make sure everyone is satisfied?


Brisbane first PappaRich restaurant serves Malaysian hawker-style food, but the setting and business model are from a different planet. PappaRich may be seen as a newcomer to Wintergarden in the Brisbane City, where it landed a few months ago, this franchise has Malaysia covered and is rolling through worldwide including China, Singapore and now Australia. 

Inside, tables are filled with mix of students, young families and a few reassuring groups of older Asian diners. The restaurant is decked out in black veneer and polished glass with the etches imaging of a smiling Pappa holding a cup of tea, which reminds me of the friendly smile that both my father and future father-in-law bring, when they drink their tea every morning. An open kitchen runs down one side but much of the dirty, smelly work is discreetly done out the back. 

Malaysia's food is a reflection of its population, a union of Indian, Chinese and native influences. I was fortunate to witness this first hand approximately three to four years ago, when my future father-in-law pleasantly took me around to many of the authentic food outlets in Penang, Malaysia. It is with modesty that I say Brisbane PappaRich displays a balance in resemblance of style and texture to that of the homeland, although food in Penang is approximately eight times cheaper. 

Smiley staff hands out bound menus like photo albums, the pages filled with glossy pictures of almost every snack, noodle and rice dishes, dessert and crazy iced drink (no alcohol here, though). PappaRich has a preprinted list of menu items on a block pad and preferences can be selected with space to individualise the contents of the dish (such as commenting on the degree of spiciness). When one is ready, a button on the table is pressed and the staff will pick up the order.

The dim sims were well served as entrees, and complemented the drinks of Pappa Mocha, open sesame and iced tea and jelly. All these drinks were colourful, came in a super large mug and were particularly refreshing given the looming Brisbane summer. We tried the Vegetarian 'Sui Kau', the Vegetarian 'Fu Chook' rolls as well as the prawn and chicken dumplings. These were steamed with fresh ingredients and the accompanying sauce added appropriate flavour for those who enjoy a touch of chilli on the side.

Vegetarian sui kow, 'Har gow', 'Sui Mai', 'Fu Chook'

Ordering the seafood curry laksa was one of the highlights at PappaRich. Several unique touches put this curry laksa in a league of its own. It is a bonanza of seafood with whole prawns, calamari, fishcakes and vegetables. The broth is rich, moderately creamy and mildly spiced. One is given a generous handful of bean sprouts under a tangle of thin egg noodles. It was a delicious start to the mains.

Seafood Curry Laksa

PappaRich's fish head noodle soup arrived next, which not only looked great, but also tasted great. One could appreciate the infamous milky white broth. The dish was not fish smelling as the fish had been fried, and then simmered with ginger, pickled mustard greens and some tomatoes. It was a flavourful and appetizing dish. 

Fish head noodle soup
It is difficult to walk away from the Pappa Fried Rice Noodles aka the 'rat's tail noodles'. This dish contained wok fried noodles, prawn, shredded chicken, egg and bean sprouts. The chef did an excellent job cooking it to the level of appropriate spice and I enjoyed digging into the juicy prawns. The amount of oil was minimal.

Fried rice noodles

Finally, the chicken congee that comes with steamed chicken was second to none. The congee had a moderate degree of chicken taste and the steamed chicken pieces were moist, tender and flavoured with soy sauce.


Steamed chicken with congee

Naturally, we were quite full after these entrees and main meals, and we did not have the stomach capacity to order any further, but there were a host of other dishes that were popularly selected by other diners. The Nasi Lemak was served with a white dome of jasmine rice, served with curry chicken. It looked glamorous and was commented by others to be delicious. A few diners critiqued that PappaRich's satay was delicately cooked and many enjoyed the crunchy peanut sauce, fresh cucumber and red onion. We are looking forward to trying these next visit.

By the end of these meals, we proceeded to hydrate ourselves, and we tried the Matcha rocks, tropical lime and orange juice (with a special request for no ice or sugar). The drinks were individualised to our needs, were lightly sweetened with a tangy taste and complemented  the Tau Foo Fa well. 

Lime juice, orange juice, matcha rocks

Overall, PappaRich is as good as restaurant franchise will get. Everything is systematic; the place is clean; the food is decent and the staff are efficient. We enjoyed our meal thoroughly and we will come back again to try other dishes. However, sometimes you just wish to sit on a plastic stool on a side street and be served by crude staff and food cooked from a well used wok over flaming charcoal. PappaRich is a Malaysian wonderland and a much welcomed oasis for all weary shoppers in the Brisbane city. For the price, it offers delicious quality meals sure to delight the stomach and budgets of most. 

A huge thank you must go to all the staff of PappaRich for making the afternoon so enjoyable and for the food coma from which I am currently writing. Special thanks to Carmen for kindly running between our table, providing first class service,and the chef for answering all our curious questions about ingredients and cleverly explaining its relevance to Malaysian culture and history. Until next time...

The Mr received complimentary lunch at PappaRich but all opinions were entirely his own.  

PappaRich Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Chin Chin

Chin Chin, Melbourne CBD
These days, conference seem to be the only opportunity for me to travel out of Brisbane. The EMCORE conference this year was held in Melbourne and together with MXM, we attended this full on conference focusing on emergency topics. Phew! Luckily we managed to dose ourselves with caffeine prior to the start of day.

Dinner became our priority as we spent almost all day listening to lectures. One of my 'to-go-list' was Chin Chin. I did warned him though that there is usually a long wait.There was no exception that night and we queued and waited for at least 1.5 hours before getting our seats. (Well, we did walked around and had some crepe before dinner)

Mr Benjamin Cooper, the head chef of Chin Chin had just made an appearance in MasterChef Aus that week. Imagine my excitement when I saw a glimpse of him in the kitchen! Chin Chin's menu is simple and straight forward. For an option of 'Feed Me' and at $69 per person, a selection of favourites will be served. However, we decided to choose our own selection that night. 

Chin Chin's Menu
For entree, I had my eye on the 'crab and pork cakes'. They were served with salted duck egg and tamarind nam prik. The salted duck egg flavour was quite mild, not what I expected. The combination of salted egg and tamarind nam prik is so new and interesting for me: a bit salty, spicy and sour. 

Crab and Pork cakes - $15
A dish like pad thai, is a must order for me in a Thai-influenced restaurant. I certainly could not resist ordering one in Chin Chin! Oh my! Both MXM and myself were so elated eating the flat rice noodles served with fresh prawns, bean sprouts, dried shrimps and chopped peanuts. The flavour of the noodles was well balanced and I certainly enjoyed the crunch of the bean sprout. Well done!

Pad Thai noodles with chopped prawn - $24
Can you see a trend now? We tried to order a meal from each section. For the GREEN STUFF, we had the green papaya salad. Caution ahead: It was spicy, too spicy for me! I do enjoy the freshness of the green papaya but there is actually bits of chilli seeds mixed into the dressing.... I had to give up after a few mouthfuls but MXM continued to push through, claiming it was torturous but yet it was exhilarating. LOL!

Green Papaya Salad - $16
Our non-alcoholic drink: thai basil seeds, with lychee and mint managed to soothe some of the spiciness. 

Among the CURRIES section, the duck curry tempted me the most and I know the combination of duck and lychee is yummy. Hehe! The red coconut duck curry certainly did not disappoint and we both agreed that was our favourite meal of the night. The meat was so tender, falling off from the bone easily and the curry itself was intense, well-balanced and flavourful. I could not ask for more!

Fragrant Red Coconut Curry of Braised Duck with lychees - $29
We were full at the end of the meals but I think MXM can read my face that I would like to have some dessert. Among the four options available, we both chose the coconut sago with sweetcorn ice cream, praline and puffed wild rice. Yum! It was moreish!

Coconut sago with sweetcorn ice-cream, praline and puffed wild rice - $14
Chin Chin is definitely a place worth visiting and waiting for. It is not a quiet dining place and having a loud voice will be an advantage as well as an empty stomach on visit. Although this place is busy, the staff members are polite and helpful and the meals arrived in a timely manner. Hope to return one day!

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Friday, July 10, 2015


Plenty, West End
One of the exciting part about my job is that I get to travel and work. Well, it can be exciting at times and sometimes not (especially when I am really really far away from home and do not possess a vehicle!). Good friendships are bonded during this work travel and finally Miss Jo and myself had the time to catch up!

Since she is relatively new in Brisbane, I brought her to West End market for a browse and then stopped at Plenty for some lunch. Needless to say, it was a busy Saturday and we had to wait for quite a while to get seats.

Unlike most cafes or restaurants, their ever-changing and seasonal menu is up on the wall. Trust me, it is not easy deciding on A MEAL, because they all sound so good.

Plenty's menu

After standing at the counter for at least 5 minutes, I finally decided on the duck egg, cotechino sausage with fried chickpea salad; with my usual flat white. As for Miss Jo, she went for the sweet option and had the twice cooked french toast with poached quince. Our drinks (flat white and cappuccino) arrived shortly and they were quite good.

Cappuccino and flat white

The meals in Plenty are all served in this huge white plate, making presentation clean and very palatable. My meal was beautifully presented and I really enjoy my meal. The highlight for me was the cotechino sausages. The balance of flavour in the sausage was good; and the chick pea salad made the dish more fulfilling. Yum!

Fried duck egg with cotechino sausages and fried chickpea salad
While my dish was colourful, Miss Jo's french toast was very simple looking. Do not be tricked though! This is probably the best french toast I had in life (maybe I exaggerated too much here)! It was really good. The toast was just soaked in this sweet milky liquid and it was so moreish. Oishii....

Twice cooked French Toast

Writing this post certainly bring me back to the past. How I wish I can be back in Plenty now.... Till next time when I meet lovely Miss Jo again!

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