For my fourth and final Malaysia Kitchen review, I decided that I wanted to try another little local joint called PJ Malaysian Cuisine. A small shop front out of the main shopping strip in Glen Waverley, I had actually never noticed it before as the shop is rather dwarfed by the other stores around it and the small unassuming signage makes it easy to miss.
However, the whole Malaysia Kitchen exercise for me has been one of discovery and education, so I thought that I certainly couldn’t go wrong by expanding my boundaries here.
Despite the small, dark front, the restaurant itself is actually quite cozy and welcoming. With jazz tunes bleating out of the stereo system, the decorations include a statue of a young Louis Armstrong as well as many photos of many classic jazz musicians – rather obviously belying the fact that the owner has a soft spot for this sort of music. The rule with the interior design here was clearly “clean and cute” and that comes through quite clearly.
During this journey, one of the things that I’ve found intruiging is tasting the same dish across different restaurants to discover the many different ways that it can be made according to the cooking style of the chef, so it was easy or me to pick the mixed beef and chicken satay skewers to begin with. The other times that we’ve ordered this dish, the satay skewers always arrived at the table pre-coated with the peanut sauce, but this restaurant decided to do this differently. Instead, the skewers arrived at the table naked and the spicy and fragrant peanut satay sauce came on the side.
The benefit here was that we could use as much or as little satay sauce as we liked, but this approach also allowed us to taste the marinades that had been used on the meats themselves. While the chicken was very bland and had no real discernable flavour, the beef skewers were sweet and salty and the marinade worked in cohesive unity with the satay sauce.
Unfortunately the problem with the skewers was that they had all been overcooked to the point that both the chicken and beef were incredibly tough, and it mnade eating them a bit of a chore.
The crispy pork lobak thankfully didn’t disappoint. Salty minced pork had been stuffed into these incredibly thin tofu skins and perfectly fried so that the pork was moist and tender while the tofu skin was light and crunchy. The sauce that it arrived with was a bit of a mystery, but with it’s balance between sweetness and saltiness with a touch of something fruity, it did well to cut through the fattiness of the pork.
As my brother was feeling quite carnivorous, we decided that as one of the mains, we’d order the king spare ribs. Lean pork cut from the rib had been tenderised and marinated before being lightly pan-fried and coated with a sweet and salty sauce. The execution of this dish was marvellous – from the tenderness of the pork (which was indeed very lean) to the light yet flavourful marinade which, though it was a tad salty, worked well with the rest of our meal.
I have a bit of a deep-seated love for noodles so I had a bit of difficulty deciding between the hokkien mee and the char kway teow as I didn’t know what would suit my mood. The waitress then recommended the Singapore noodles as being a great choice to go alongside the pork spare ribs that we ordered, and this ended up being a perfect combination.
Tender fried vermicelli noodles were served mixed with chicken, bean shoots, onions and scrambled egg in a wonderous heap, topped with finely shredded carrot and iceberg lettuce. Despite the range of ingredients in this dish, it did come across as slightly bland when had on it’s own, but really was the perfect dish to have with the other mains that we ordered for this fact.
Last but not least were the intruiging sambal prawns. Fat, juicy, tender prawns had been cooked in an incredible sambl sauce (containing lemongrass, ginger, garlic, onions, tamarind and other spices) and it was wonderfully seasoned and full-flavoured without being overwhelming for the senses. Again, this proved perfect when paired with the Singapore noodles, so this trio of dishes made for a very happy pair of diners.
We both agreed that other than the let down with the satay skewers in our entree, that this was by far the best Malaysian meal that we had this month and it has in fact made it to my list of worthwhile restaurants in the Glen Waverley area. I know that I’ll definitely be back – at least for the ribs and hands down the best Singapore noodles that I’ve ever had!