Northland Shopping Centre, 5-20 Murray Road, Preston 3072
Newly opened on the 26th December 2013. I actually went on the very first day and tried a variety of dishes and again in the new year for more. While some restaurants might take a while to work out the details, service and management, this place seems to have it all sorted out already. There also seems to be a constant flow of diners each time I have been there. As they would say in Malaysia, "Very auspicious start".
This is a halal chain and elsewhere in this blog, is another entry for the QV branch.
Unlike the city branch, this place is more kid friendly and has high chairs as well. Given its location, I suppose it has to account for large families. It is not a huge space and the clunky standard PappaRich chairs and tables makes it hard but they try to make it work well. Plenty of light during the day and very airy, which is important given that that diners are sharing space with part of the kitchen.
Compared to other branches of PappaRich, the decoration here is a bit more understated. What really amuses me is the soundtrack choice here which includes hits from the 50s to 70s (Doris Day and Olivia Newton John feature prominently).
The food here is pretty good with well balanced flavours. Although they do not offer the intensity of spices one would expect back in Malaysia, there is a still a good kick in the flavouring. If there is one complaint, the food is not presented as nicely as the very enticing pictures in the menu. However, don't let that fool you, the flavours are intact.
Nasi Goreng - Malaysian fried rice with it's smoky flavours laced with frozen mixed vegies. This is what you might get in parts of Malaysia but with less chillies. The fried chicken maryland that came with it could not be faulted though. Very yummy.
Fried Chicken Skin - I know this is bad for you but it is so good (mildly curried and served with Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce)... eat it while it is hot and deal with the consequences later.
The service here is really pretty good and fast! Perhaps because it was still relatively new, there was no queue and they accepted reservations. However, once we settled in and ordered (you have to write your own orders down and call them over), the food came very quickly.
They are very polite and hospitable though some of the wait staff had some difficulty understanding the range of accents. One thing that they do need to learn is that most diners might not have knowledge of Malaysian cuisine in the area and they need to be careful about the assumptions they make about their diners. Perhaps, take time to explain some of the items in the menu (even though diners are supposed to be self-managing).
This is probably going to be a regular haunt, so watch out for regular updates. I guess that is an endorsement as good as any. I am looking forward to my next visit already.
A good restaurant needs to assume that their diners might have a very different culinary experience and therefore a different expectation of what they are about to get. In a restaurant where diners make their own order with minimal interaction, it's important to check with them what they have ordered. This systems only works really well if diners are familiar with the dishes on offer.
Terms are are often used in many restaurants which might seem self-explanatory but convey a wrong picture to the reader based on the reader's experience. For example, fried crispy noodles - what picture does this conjure up for you? Is it the fried thin crispy egg noodles, or the ones that are thicker that come like a bird's nest, or the ones that are almost like crisps? They are all very different in texture and taste.
So, while some restaurants try to deal with this by showing pictures of what is on offer, others do not. Even when you have pictures, you do need to explain what the flavours are like PLUS when the food comes out, it should look like the pictures (many don't). So, I always believe that a good restaurant has wait staff who are able to explain their offerings to even their diners who have had the least experience with the particular cuisine. That's key to successful restaurants and also hey! It's an opportunity for multicultural education!