For me food is often nostalgic and holds memories from celebrations, holidays and my childhood. I have quite a sentimental attachment to satay. Years back, before I was the chef’s wife, I discovered the nutty meat-on-a-stick during an Asian holiday. It was the first holiday that Chef and I had gone on together – I’d kind of gate crashed his family holiday. We were in Singapore for Food Asia – the region’s largest food expo and hot kitchen comp. Chef’s Dad, Pappa Chef, had visited the lion city many times and knew all the best street food spots. He introduced us to the Satay Club at Clarke Quay – there we feasted on the best satays I’ve ever had – even to this day.
We were kindly invited for lunch by Papparich, the brand new Malaysian chain restaurant in Northbridge. I had heard that it was causing quite a buzz, with large queues forming down James Street most days. So I thought it would be a good idea to book an early lunch, to avoid the crowds. So I was very surprised that when we arrived at 11.30am, the restaurant was already full to bursting.
We were taken to a window seat and given our menus to look through. It’s an extensive menu full of Malay favourites; Roti Canai, Hainan bread with Kaya and butter, Satay, Nasi Lemak, Fried Kuey Teow, Curry Laksa, Chicken Rice, Mee Goreng, Ice Kacang and much more besides. The menu has photos of each dish, which was helpful, since I’m not familiar with most Malay cuisine. We were also given a notepad – you write up your own order here – then press the “doorbell” button on your table when you’re ready to send it to the open kitchen.
The food came out in record time. No sooner had our order been picked up from the table, plates and trays started arriving a mere 5 minutes later. Now maybe it was blindingly obvious, but it wasn’t to me, that the food didn’t necessarily come out on the order that it’s written on the notepad. Whoops! So instead of enjoying our satays and roti for entrée, I got what I’d envisioned was my main first. Soon our entire table was brimming with food as it all seemed to come out at once.
Mixed Satay – 6 pieces ($13.90) 3 beef sicks and 3 chicken sticks are marinated in turmeric, galangal and lemongrass. They didn’t quite live up to my very high Singaporean benchmark – I thought the meat could have been a bit tenderer. I couldn’t get enough of the more-ish satay sauce which is deliciously chunky.
Chef chose freshly-made Roti Canai ($12.90) which was filled with onion and egg. The bread was served just right – soft in the middle, a little crisp and crunchy on the outside. On the side was a chicken curry, mango flavoured dhal (lentil curry) and sweet chilli sauce.
Our drinks then arrived – Chef chose the Lychee Soda. It turned out way too sweet for him to take more than a few sips. I tried it too and agreed it was incredibly sweet! As someone with a bit of a Milo habit – I just HAD to order the iced Milo Dinosaur – which was heaped with spoonfuls of milo!
By this time I was starting to struggle a bit with the food – not knowing how the portion sizes were and all the food coming at once didn’t give me time for a breather! The queue outside was growing and people were standing on the other side of the widow watching us eat – which I found a bit disconcerting!!
There was a lot happening on my plate! I had the Pappa Special Biryani ($15.90) -. In the middle of the plate sits a mound of fragrant rice, prepared with cardamon, cloves and other herbs and spices. On the side were fried chicken, crispy skin hid the super moist meat underneath. Also on the brimming plate was sambal eggplant (which had a little too much fish sauce for my liking), sambal prawns and a pappadum.
Chef really fancied noodles, but all the Fried Mee ($13.90) dishes came with Prawns, which he’s not a fan of. At the time of ordering he noted “chicken not prawns please” on the note pad and bobs your uncle – out came a chicken fried mee. He enjoyed it and noted that it tasted just like a really good fried mee dish he’d had years ago.
Chef and I liked Papparich – though we both left feeling there was something that we missed – it is incredibly popular. It’s cheap and cheerful – the food is very reasonably priced. We didn’t LOVE the food, but I’d put that down to personal taste more than anything.