First published on 14 Feb 2011. Updated on 27 Sep 2011.
One hell of a fancy room – there’s a gigantic laughing buddha statue to greet you (it must weigh several tonnes!) and all the furniture is 1950s diner. There’s incense burning everywhere and you’ll find dishes like beef rendang, chicken satay skewers and gado gado – perfect for al fresco feasting in the summer months. Lvl 2, 201 Sussex St, Sydney 2000. (02 9264 3211).
Don’t judge this restaurant by its cover. Jimmy’s Recipe may look like an innocuous little place hidden away in a CBD shopping complex, but their laksa is legendary. Opt for the chicken or beef variety and load up on chilli pastes, fresh corianders and spices. Great takeaway bowls are available too. Galeries Victoria, Ground Fl, 500 George St, Sydney 2000. (02 9252 3380).
Jackie M Malaysian Cuisine
Sydney’s high priestess of Malaysian cuisine is Jackie M, a Malay-born, Sydney Uni-educated livewire whose dinner parties morphed into a market stall, then a catering company, and now a buzzing restaurant in Concord. Here she deals in delicious and authentic street food – classic hawker dishes available on-site (Thu–Sat) and in takeaway packs. 85 Majors Bay Rd, Concord 2137. (02 9743 0390).
For some of the most authentic Malaysian out of Malaysia, head to Parramatta. Their nasi lemak equals any of the ones you find in the food halls around the city and is more attractively presented. 71 George St, Parramatta 2150. (02 9633 9926).
Albee’s is a welcome addition to the small Malaysian food scene where dishes cooked with a nod to authenticity are prized above location and water views. The menu is short and sharp, with set meals that are very popular with the predominantly Asian crowd. 282 Beamish St, Campsie 2194. (02 9718 8302).
Founded in 1963 by Wong Tai See, a merchant seaman who migrated to Sydney in the 40s, the Malaya has become one of the great food institutions in the city with its water views over King Street Wharf and traditional take on southeast Asian cuisine. Their king prawn laksa (made with spicy cow’s milk rather than coconut milk) was a trailblazer and has fueled many a long lunch. 39 Lime St, King Street Wharf, Sydney 2000. (02 9279 1170).
Expect feather-light roti that comes apart in your fingers like pieces of tissue paper, accompanied by bowls of rich chicken curry or steaming plates of char kway teow with wide, silky noodle tongues, stir-fried
with bits of fish cake, sausage and chicken, resplendent with chives and green onion. 262-264 Pennant Hills Rd, Thornleigh 2120. (02 9484 8288).
The kari ayam is a rich, mouth-filling mild curry of chicken pieces (thigh and drumstick, predominantly) with chunks of potato. Eat it with rice or scoop it up with a roti canai and wash it down with a limau ais – a mix of fresh lime juice and lime cordial with water. They also make one of the tastiest nasi lemaks in town. 15 Goulburn St, Haymarket 2000. (02 9211 1668).
An enduring family favourite among locals and ex-pat Malaysians alike, Sambal dishes up amazing and authentic Penang cuisine from a modern space of benches and long tables. The Sambal char kuay teow is hailed by many as the best in Sydney. The laksas and Hainan chicken rice also win fans. Shop 7, 285–297 Lane Cove Rd, North Ryde 2113 (02 9889 7977).
A tiny, blink-and-you'll-miss-it type café on screaming loud Harris Street in Ultimo. The roti is unbelievable, and they do all the usual Malaysian hawker favourites like chicken curry and roti or nasi lemak. Get your fix of Malaysian telly while you're at it. 594 Harris St, Ultimo 2007. (02 9282 9883).
Roti of all persuasions are on offer, including the tried-and-true roti canai. Here, the gossamer bread comes on a tin plate sectioned off with sides of curry, pickle chutney and sambal. There are also a few exotic options such as roti Hawaii, which is filled with chicken, pineapple and cheese, and roti sausage, which is filled with sausage and Spanish onion. 25 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe 2037.(0414 675 880).