Who says cafes only have to serve eggs and coffee? The Malayan Council is destroying all notions of a ‘typical’ cafe, with their tasty Western-local fusion creations and mind blowing cakes and desserts.
The cafe/restaurant though relatively small, is doing really well (completely packed on a Thursday night), so reservations are recommended. The person at the reservation phone (who I think is the owner) didn’t pick up when I called, but sent an SMS promptly after to follow up – and then I made my reservation over text. Good first impression.
Service at the establishment itself however was at best patchy, as they appeared to be understaffed. But more on that later – let’s talk about the food first.
I liked the dishes we tried, as the flavours were creative and surprising. We started with the Malayan Wings ($13), which were drenched in finger licking good (if a tad bit salty) kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce) and garnished with some salad leaves, parsley, thyme and chili flakes.
The wings could be a bit more substantial in size, but the quantity was decent and we really enjoyed the sauce (used it to dip with our other dishes too). The savoury richness of the sweet sauce went well with the spiciness of the chili (tasted like it was infused into it) and the refreshing leaves and herbs.
Our party of 3 decided to share 2 main courses and 1 starter, as we heard the portions were quite big.
The first was the Roti Kirai Beef Ribs ($39), a huge slab of meat on a bone, glazed and drenched in a thick and tangy rendang-type secret sauce. This tasted like a blend of Asian and Western spices and was full of flavour. The meat came off the bone easily enough and was fairly tender, though regretfully I think it could have done with a little less cooking time as some parts were a bit dry/tough.
I still enjoyed this dish though. And it was my first time having roti kirai – I thought it was a good match as a side for the rich, full bodied beef as its light taste and soft chewy texture helped to absorb and balance out the flavours.
We also had the Asam Pedas Fish & Chips ($19). I must say, the asam was ‘damn power’ (gave a solid kick). Unfortunately, the batter was a bit soggy in the parts where the fish were stacked together – leading me to believe that maybe it was left sitting for too long. The fish itself was lovely though, very tender and moist.
The dish is served with truffle fries, which had a good flavour and scent, but seemed to have been fried with reused oil (uneven finish – some parts were more fried or oilier than others).
And now, the absolute stars of this cafe – its desserts. Its signature Ondeh-Ondeh Cake ($8) was this unbelievably fluffy and creamy confectionery that had just the right amount of sweetness from its gula melaka filling.
I particularly loved the cream parts (they seem to have been whipped, felt quite airy) and the coconut flakes. Definitely memorable I’d say – I’m salivating now just thinking about it.
We were also given a complimentary Durian dessert (Creme Brulee I think) by the very friendly and polite owner, for having waited nearly an hour for our food (I did say they seemed understaffed). Which turned out to be totally amazing.
Okay so it’s more of a durian cream than a creme brulee I think, as there was only 1 or 2 thin layers of a crunchy, sugary piece below/in between the durian, but the flavour was just explosive and the texture gave a very enjoyable mouth feel.
So there ends the story of my first visit to The Malayan Council. I might go back, to try some of the other delicious looking and sounding dishes (the Salted Egg Softshell Crab and Mudcrab Linguine!), and cakes but will pick a day when I have lots of time to wait for food to arrive. Or hopefully they will hire more staff before I next go back…
The Malayan Council
22 Dunlop Street
Tel: +65 90024414
Open from 11.00am to 11.00pm daily.