Petaling Street, Sydney - Malaysian Street Food
Petaling Street, in the heart of Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown district and referred to colloquially as Chee Cheong Kai, evokes the hustle and bustle of commerce, street vendorship and hawker food. The name also refers to a chain of cafe restaurants in Melbourne city centre and its suburbs, specialising on the spectrum of fare fro breakfast, dinner, supper or any time ranging from Cantonese, South Indian, Thai, Indonesian, Malay, Straits Chinese to fusion varieties from south-east Asia. Charmaine and Cindy alerted me to the opening of Pet Street's branch along George Street in Sydney's CBD, opposite from the corner of Ultimo Street. I could hardly wait to try this out. Above image - ice kacang, or shaved ice with a mixture of palm sago, black jelly bits, creamy corn from the can, roasted peanuts and more, and all doused with pink rose syrup or green flavoured extras. Ice kacang is replicated in the Philippines and Indonesia, known there as ABC or ais batu campur. I must say the roasted peanuts gave me a kick in this ice kacang dish.
The ambiance is casual, crowded and busy. On first impressions, I wondered if they had only these several tables for customers in a narrow corridor at street level. Tables are squat and practical, with no backs but more like stools. It was only half an hour later when a visit to the washrooms in the basement opened my eyes to more spacious seating. Petaling Street's menu is extensive and they open late till 2 am from Thursday to Saturday nights, otherwise they open their doors at 11am every day and close at 11pm from Sundays to Wednesdays. Their drinks offered reflect the selections available in any Malaysian or Singaporean coffee shop (kopi tiam) - including not only hot or cold teh tarik, soya bean ice and cham ( a mixture of both tea and coffee in one serving), but also Ribena Sprite and ice Bandung. One of the dishes that caught my attention at the window display was the Thai nasi Pattaya, or fried rice all snugly wrapped in an egg omelette cover (picture above). When we observed other tables, steamed fish was ordered in a variety of styles - with tamarind sauce or chill or ginger and shallots.
The first dish I had at this George Street cafe was the yee mee in a claypot with shreds of marinated braised duck. (image above) My first thoughts on taking this were, hello, there are sharp bones with the duck and they should have been deboned, and secondly it tasted more salty than I preferred. Some people prefer boned duck as they are convinced that it adds tot he flavour, when compared with deboned duck meat. The yee mee are fat flat noodles that can also be served deep fried but in a claypot, I like it al dente.
Penang fried koay teow (flat rice noodles) and Mamak mee goreng ( stir fried Hokkien noodles with a mixture of tomato, chilli and bean paste based sauces) and rotis are also available here. I reckon one has to decide whether to order rice-accompanied dishes or straight hawker food if one does not have the numbers, but do go with the flow. The curry puffs and satay skewers serve as good snacks at mid afternoon, and nasi lemak is always a good bet for brunch . For late night drop ins, the congee is recommended. Service was fast, but one sits neck to neck with fellow diners, so be ready for a street food dimension.