Chalk another up for the cheap and cheerful folder.
Nasi lemak is, I think, a dish it’s hard to understand the appeal of unless you’re from Malaysia. Boiled egg. Sliced cucumber. Rice with a hint of coconut. Sambal. Curry. Laid out like that, it just doesn’t sound all that exciting.
But for us, it’s comfort food. At KL Cafe, the dishes of our homeland are front and centre.
There are oodles of noodle and rice dishes. Egg noodles, hokkien noodles, rice noodles, the mee that I suspect comes from a Maggi packet. Dry noodles, soupy noodles. A couple of dishes featuring prawns. Plenty more with the thick salty, oystery sauce perfect for sopping up greedily. All in the $10-15 range and more than adequate servings.
My first time there, I plumped for the nasi lemak – served with curry chicken and sambal with anchovies (or ikan bilis, as I’m still inclined to call it in this context) softer and moister than I’m used to. Divine.
But what I was really itching to try was the kuan lo won ton mee, and I returned the very next day for lunch, determined to put this dish into my tummy. And I’m pleased to report I walked out with a belly full of it. See those saucey noodles atop a layer of fried mince, livened up with spring onions and nuts, topped by tender, thin BBQ pork slices and dried prawn, er, stuff? Uber-satisfying, especially with a cute little bowl of wonton soup to accompany.
That’s also T’s har lo mee, with fatter noodles and a tart shrimp-flavoured soup on the side. Greasy? Yes. But were you expecting any different?
Oh, and the free hot tea is pretty good – not overpowering, like some Chinese tea can be.
There are no pretenses here. You can walk in with no shoes on, I’m pretty sure. And correct me if I’m wrong, but it may be the only place out west that does Malay. Bonus points.
Frugal factor: high. Dishes are around the $10 mark.
KL Cafe, Great North Express
4055 Great North Rd (in the large row of shops across from the converted petrol station)