Low-budget gem

MALAYSIAN eatery Lepak Kopitiam was filling fast, so with ninja-like speed I nipped inside before a family of six arrived.

The eatery is small and unpretentious, with formica tables crammed in cheek by jowl.

Clearly patrons were there for the food, not the decor, and it’s a big hit with the local Malay/Chinese community.

The service is fast and efficient and our table was quickly crammed with steaming plates.

We started with the chai tow kuay (fried radish cake $8.90).

The noodle dish was spicy and salty, and the uncake-like cubes soft and delicious.

“They are really amazing,” said my friend Anne, who had been dubious at the idea of a radish cake.

But she reckoned her ayam merah ($8.90) lacked the “wow” factor: “It’s just fried chicken really,” she said, tucking in anyway.

The chunky spring rolls ($8.90) were as advertised; crisp flaky parcels of piping hot vegetables with a thick, sweet chilli dipping sauce.

My all time favourite Malay dish is kuay teow, so I ordered the tofu version ($9.90).

The dish had a good balance of flavours and the flame-seared tofu had a satisfying texture.

Our third dining guest ordered his favourite: Hainanese chicken rice.

This Malaysian staple is to Asia what chicken soup is to the western world–comfort food.

Poached in garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil, the chicken was tender and the spiced rice a good accompaniment, John said.

“If you had Asian visitors you could certainly bring them here for a traditional meal.”

In terms of value for money you’d go a long way to beat this little eatery, and lunch for three with Chinese tea came to $49.50.

by JENNY D’ANGER

Lepak Kopitiam
1/22 Parry Avenue, Bateman
open Wed-Sun 8am-8pm

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