Monday, August 1, 2011

Southeast Asian trip via Aseana Food Village

Earlier this year I returned from a few weeks’ travel around Asia, including Southeast Asia. My general view is that one week in a country is never enough to really experience it, let alone just a few days in a couple of cities.

But ready yourself for a whirlwind tour of Southeast Asia when you step into Aseana Food Village in Randwick, which serves Malaysian, Singaporean, Burmese and even some Chinese dishes to the locals and lots of Southeast Asian customers it seems.

Teh tarik (front) and ice teh with condensed milk (back) from
Aseana Food Village, Alison Road, Randwick
With vouchers and hungry Sunday night appetites, we parked easily and entered the clean, spacious, spice-fragranced restaurant featuring matching dark wood furniture with tissue boxes on the tables.

Drinks were an easy choice to start on: mine a sweet, warm, frothy and milky teh tarik, ‘pulled’ from mug to mug to incorporate a head of air bubbles; while the other is an iced milk tea with condensed milk for sweetening.

Choosing food from the menu of appetisers, rice, noodles, mains and vegetables took a little longer, as we had some serious ‘want list’ culling to do first.

Rojak – Singaporean/Malaysian fruit salad
The rojak was a last minute order addition, requested to arrive first, although everything following arrived all at once at the not-quite-big-enough table (including our other appetiser).

A ‘junk’ fruit salad was a sweet and refreshing start to the meal, and included gorgeously ripe pear, crunchy green apple, cucumber, bean sprouts and pieces of Chinese fried dough sticks or yau tiao, heavily smothered in a dark, mildly spicy and mildly fishy sauce, all covered in crushed peanuts.

Crispy roti canai and chicken curry set
I can’t go past roti on a menu, especially plain roti canai – here served as part of a set with chicken curry. The flat breads arrive perfectly round – which leads me to think that they’re not made in-house – but they’re so much fluffier than the frozen packet versions you can buy in Asian supermarkets that I’m not so sure.

But it doesn’t matter. Crispy on the outside with buttery layers within, the roti tears easily and is the perfect mop for the small bowl of quite thick curry.

Chicken curry
In the bowl sits a gargantuan chicken drumstick – the largest I’ve seen in quite some time. One dig with the fork reveals a seriously succulent leg, juicy and fairly well flavoured with the curry spices. The monster drumstick shares the bowl with a huge chunk of potato that’s so soft it’s almost mash.

Htaw baht rice set – Burmese buttered rice, served with Burmese tomato gravy pork,
pickled vegetables and spicy fried shrimp
It was hard not to be tempted by one of the Burmese offerings scattered throughout the menu. The htaw baht rice was listed as Burmese buttered rice, served in a set with prawn crackers, strips of crisply pickled vegetables, deep fried shrimp much like ikan bilis and a few fatty chunks of pork in a spiced tomato sauce.

The rice wasn’t what I expected, but thankfully not overly oily, dotted with crispened bits of rice probably from the bottom of a buttered-up wok.

Burmese tomato gravy pork
The flavour from the pork’s tomato sauce was sensational and perfect to gobble up with rice. The pork was mostly tender, some bits very fatty, offset nicely by the pickled carrot and cucumber strips – but on the whole, a hearty, filling dish.

Lee’s stewed duck with Hokkien noodles
The duck appears on the menu a few times: with rice, with noodles or as a main in itself. We go with the Hokkien noodles, and are fairly impressed when the rich, dark brown duck-topped bowl arrives at our overflowing table.

A deboned breast, with wing, presents itself as “Lee’s stewed duck”, sticky and sweet from its time in a stewing sauce. In fact, the sauce was so strong that the entire dish with noodles was almost overpoweringly sweet, but the tender, gamey duck was still a standout.

Sambal kangkong
The necessary vegetable fix came in the form of kangkong, also known as morning glory or water spinach; an inexplicable favourite of lots of people I dine with.

Stir fried with a not-too-spicy sambal sauce, I still find the stems of the vegetable a bit on the chewy-stringy side, and the taste quite like any other Asian green.

Ice cendol
We grab a couple of takeaway boxes to try and leave stomach space for dessert. It’s a struggle, but we decide to share an ice cendol – that colourful favourite of Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and indeed, even Myanmar and Vietnam.

The ice is shaved from a cool, old-school contraption that spins in several places and makes quite the restaurant-filling noise.

Cendol noodles and red beans beneath the shaved ice
Neatly patted down then drowned in gula melaka palm sugar syrup and coconut milk, the icy dome reveals a centre of red beans and bright green pandan flavoured strips which are a little firmer than I’m accustomed to.

Nonetheless, it’s a sweet, though not too sweet, close to the meal and our evening tour of Southeast Asia. And as ever with travels, we end the trip feeling somewhat heavier than when we first arrived but richer for the experience.

Aseana Food Village on Urbanspoon


Corinne @ Gourmantic said...

I must have driven past this many times but I didn't take notice. Looks like it serves an interesting cuisine.

And nothing like finding a spot to remind you of your travels, is there... :)

gastronomous anonymous said...

wow this place looks fantastic! that rojak - i want! will definitely have to visit soon :)

chopinandmysaucepan said...

The rojak looks delicious. I haven't been to this place for a very long time!

Adrian (Food Rehab) said...

That would me dilema also- choosing from the many way too tempting items on the menu. Good choicw with the drinks too- love teh tarik!!!!!

Tina said...

Hi Corinne - Ah, memories... especially holiday ones. Great place for a SE Asian range.

Hi gastronomous anonymous - I think rojak will be one of those things I might slowly come to love... very slowly...

Hi chopinandmysaucepan - It's a cute little casual place to just drop in to, I think.

Hi Adrian - Teh tarik always, except when the curry/sambal is too hot...

Keely aka The Richest Girl in Bondi said...

Seems like the perfect spot to try a whole heap of different cuisines. I've got my eye on the yau tiao, the drinks look super refreshing too!

CNA duties said...

Sambal Kangkong is the best! And that chicken is huge! in some places the chicken curry is served with a piece of small chicken and large potato chunks. Your post just made me hungry.

Ramen Raff said...

Everything looks delicious!!!! Will be adding this to my list.

mademoiselle délicieuse said...

Lol Flintstones-sized chicken drumstick for the masses!

Tina said...

Hi Keely - It's perfect for trying lots of different dishes :)

HI CNA Duties - Yes, and sometimes it' just the roti with sauce from a chicken curry!

Hi Ramen Raff - A big list, I'm sure!

Hi mademoiselle délicieuse - Well, it went as far as two of us ;)

Melissa said...

that sounds like a place that i should try out when i have cravings!

Tina said...

Hi Melissa - Yes, roti and cendol cravings!

Ash said...

Wow this place looks amazing. I've always walked past this place but never thought of trying it. It's going on my list now!


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