Every time we hear of a new Malaysian or Singaporean restaurant opening, we get really excited. Even though we are not short of Asian food choices in Sydney, having something that tastes close to home is just a different feeling. So the other day, Saucer and I ventured out to try Kreta Ayer in Eastwood, a restaurant offering Singaporean cuisine. We went during lunch and managed to get a table within minutes.
To start with, we had the Ngoh Hiang Roll (also known as Lor Bak in Malaysia), which was essentially spiced minced pork wrapped in bean curd skin and then deep fried. The Singaporean version is different from the Malaysian one in that the bean curd skin is deep fried with a layer of flour surrounding it. Or perhaps this is just Kreta Ayer’s take on it? Either way, I prefer it without the layer of flour as it disintegrated from the roll easily. I liked the flavour and the abundance of meat inside the roll, but the dipping sauce provided was also just soy sauce with some pickled chillies. I wish there was the usual chilli sauce and gravy.
For drinks, Saucer had the Milk Tea while I had the Chendol. I liked the presentation of the Chendol but using canned coconut milk just didn’t have the same effect as fresh coconut milk. I guess there are just some compromises we have to make here, since fresh coconut milk is not easily found. But I was surprised to find bits of jackfruit and “atapchi” inside, I think they make a whole lot of difference to the dessert drink.
For lunch, I ordered the Singapore Har Mee as it appeared to be one of their signature items. Unfortunately, I was rather disappointed with the flavour of the broth. I thought it lacked body and was honestly a little bland. Also, even though the presentation with 5 sizable prawns was inviting, I didn’t enjoy the idea of peeling off prawn shells while having lunch in my work clothes, and getting my hands dirty. But that’s just me.
Side story: When writing down my order on the order chit, I wrote under the ‘Note’ column for my noodles to be a mix of ‘mee + bihun’. Now I dare say anyone from Malaysia or Singapore would understand this, but my order still came with just the yellow noodles (mee). So I questioned one of the staff and said I requested for bihun as well and showed her my order chit. She took a look at it and asked me what ‘bihun’ meant, with an annoyed frown. I replied ‘vermicelli’ and she said rudely “Next time write in English. No one knows what bihun means”. I was rather taken aback to be honest, and I half wondered if she really didn’t know the meaning of bihun or if she’s feigning ignorance so that she could somehow put the blame back on me.
Saucer ordered the Penang Char Kuey Teow which looked pretty good. The first few bites made us wanting for more, but towards the middle, we felt it to be a little excessive. I think it boiled down to the fact that it was just too oily and the balance of the flavour was not there. It was leaning towards sweet, salty and oily with not enough chilli, chives or spring onions to balance them up. I don’t think we’d order this dish again.
Overall, I think we had a rather average experience with the choice of food we ordered (and the service from that one waitress) that day. Perhaps we didn’t order the right dishes, but being the only Singaporean/Malaysian restaurant in the hood, we’ll definitely be back to try out the other dishes that they have to offer.
Kreta Ayer Eastwood (same row with Woolworths)
172 Rowe Street,
Eastwood, Sydney, NSW