Authenticity, integrity and flavour. That is what most of us saviour, appreciate and enjoy in any of the world's cuisines. For fusion cooking like in Malaysia, which stands at the cross roads of varying cultures, religions and cuisines, to represent them adequately in a restaurant can be mind boggling, creative challenging and requiring constant monitoring. The choice of sauces, the techniques practised to bring them together and to ensure the right presentation at the table can be a constant cycle of preserverance, care and instinctive experience.
Some dishes from the Malaysian cook book provide significant tests:
1. Where the soups must uplift and the ingredients are supplementary.
Curry Laksa, with its strong sensations is at the opposite end of Ipoh hor fun soup.
Clear soups require subtleness, strong soups need good colour and harmony.
2. Where the grill has to be just right in providing texture. Charcoal fired meats are more yummy than those cooked in a oven but the choice is up to each person's preference. Skewered meats are most yummy when eaten fresh from the grill and not pre-cooked before. Not too much smokiness. More important is the marinade - PappaRich Satay has a lemon grass after taste like what you get in the home country.
3. Where the curry has to be simply appetising. There are several spices that make up the base for simmering in a curry pot. The amount and nature of your spice used create different curries. Red curry is the base of the standard Malaysian chicken curry. The complexity of making Rendang is because of the many spices and ingredients. More dilute curry for Roti dipping can be more challenging to make.
4. Where the stir fry has wok heat and yet retains the right level of flavour. This is most critical for your plate of the Char Koay Teow, where you can sense the hand and style of different individuals in the finished product.
5. Where sauces transform the final bite. South-east Asians love their condiments, whether pestle pounded, ground with an electric whizzer or simply gently mixed by hand before serving. Even steamed bamboo baskets of Dim Sim stuff and buns are accompanied by simple chilli sauces.
My recent visit to Pappa Rich near Macquarie University made me reflect on the following:
Food comes out fast, orders are received like clock work. So how is the kitchen team faring, they must be under tremendous pressure to deliver. This is not fast food but rather echoes home cooked and street food which require various steps in preparation.
Rush hour at Macquarie Centre means a pouring of customers, all hungry, at the same time. They may be next going home, to the cinemas, having a break from chores or shopping and may already be stressed out themselves after a long day.
What is the difference between the other greater Sydney area offerings and those from the PappaRich chain? There is Sedap, there is Hawker, there is Albee's. This PR is the giant of it all, with set procedures, required steps and prescribed interior decoration. It is a business that is replicated across many of its stores. There are local ingredients in the cooking, but sauces have to be standardised and consistent.
With such an extensive menu, how does PappaRich manage to deliver it all? Malaysian cooking rely on many common ingredients, so there can be scale of economy in such aspects. The risk is in the assembly of the final dish. Management control helps, but where is the room for creativity by different individuals? Another significant outcome desired is the consistency in taste. It is easy to produce the Rotis, but what about assuring each customer about each plate of Mee Goreng or Char Koay Teow?
My impressions of Papa Rich Macquarie Park:
Ambiance: 2.5 out of 5
Customer Engagement: 3 out of 5
Culinary Delight: 3.5 out of 5
X Factor: 3 out of 5
Overall: 3 out of 5
Recommended menu choices:
Steamed Chicken, whether it comes with rice, congee or egg noodles
Beef or Chicken Satay skewers with peanut sauce, cucumber slices and onion cuts
Beef Rendang - national dish of Malaysia
Nasi Lemak with curry mutton, fried chicken or curry chicken
Mee Goreng - that delectable plate of stir fried Hokkien noodles with a kick!
Teh Tarik - a pulled tea concoction that has cinnamon and spice, served cold or warm.
Combination of fried rice with fried chicken wings and Satay skewers
Papa Rich Macquarie Park is located at Level 3 of the Macquarie shopping centre in North Ryde NSW, near Events Cinema Complex. Macquarie Centre is sited beside Herring and Waterloo Roads.
Opening hours are from 1030am to 930pm every day.
Contact + 61 2 9870 8754
Paparich Australia operates in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Canberra, Brisbane and Adelaide.
Paparich has 20 stores in Australia and 70 in its home base of Malaysia.
The business is also active in New Zealand, Taiwan, China, Brunei, the USA, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Indonesia at time of writing this blog post.