Isaac Ong | September 18, 2016
In Singapore, one can find good cafes anywhere, but a question I always ask when paying the bill is: “Was it worth it?” At The Malayan Council, my answer is a definite yes, no hesitation hands down.
Even getting there is a pleasure. From Rochor MRT Station (Downtown Line), the Malayan Council is just a ten-minute scenic stroll away. We passed by colourful shophouses, a traditional Indian provisions store, a few interesting boutique hotels and of course the iconic Abdul Gafoor Mosque. By the time we got to the cafe, we were half-cooked under the relentless Singaporean sun. And as luck would have it, the restaurant had a 40-minute queue. We decided to take the opportunity to explore the menu and the ambience of the place as we waited. The eclectic mix of Asian and Western cuisine and the warm, rustic wood-based décor got us really curious and excited.
When we were finally seated, we were ravenous and thoroughly wilted from the heat – the Lychee Mint Coolers ($6.50) really hit the spot. Fresh lychees, sprigs of mint, and some soda water did a great job at cooling us down, with a well-controlled sweetness. A variant of the coolers used freshly cut mango instead of lychee, but the relatively high cost kept us from ordering any more.
Move aside Colonel Sanders, there’s a new best thing that could happen to chicken: The Malayan Wings ($13) won our hearts right from the first bite. Drenched in an addictive Kicap Manis (sweet) sauce, with chilli padi, a bit of lime juice and herbs, the chicken was tender on the inside and a bit crispy on the outside. Combined with the sauce, it was a violent chain reaction of sweet, savoury and spicy, which led to us demolishing the big plate of chicken within ten minutes. Even the vegetables weren’t spared, dipped in the sauce and eaten.
The Assam Pedas Fish & Chips ($22) came stacked three fishes high, with a topping of hot Assam Pedas sauce. Interestingly the herbs stood out from the sauce, complementing it rather than fighting for the attention of your taste buds. The battered fish was fried well, forming a very crispy exterior, while the interior melted in our mouths. There was also a generous serving of piping-hot fries, lightly salted with truffle shavings and truffle oil, and a light salad accompanied the dish.
The Smoked Duck with Nasi Lemak Pasta ($28) was a blast from start to finish: pasta cooked in a Nasi Lemak sauce (coconut, sambal belacan, with a slight sweetness), topped with a superb smoked duck. I could taste the smoky flavour of the duck all the way, which went extremely well with the fragrant and savoury pasta. This dish was a powerhouse made from the union of East & West.
We gave in to sheer temptation after seeing the neighbouring table order the Cempadak (Jackfruit) Crème Brulee ($9) but sadly it was out of stock, so we switched to the Durian Crème Brulee instead. Again, we were not disappointed. The Crème Brulee had a smooth, caramelised layer of burnt sugar on top and a soft creamy layer underneath with a well-controlled durian flavour and a hint of Gula Melaka (palm sugar). The silky smooth custard with durian pulp begged to be eaten, and before we knew it, it was, and we had to bid the café farewell.
Overall, in spite of the slightly pricier menu items, the quality of the food, the cosy ambience and the unmatched flavours of impeccably paired fusion cuisine particularly the Malayan Wings which managed to hit the sweet spot of our palates, made it an experience that was indeed “Worth it”.
The Malayan Council
22 Dunlop Street, Singapore 209350.
Tel: 9002 4414
Opening Hours: 11am – 11pm (Mon – Sat), 11am – 10pm (Sun)
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