K and I do our weekly grocery shop at Chatswood, taking advantage of the abundance of Asian grocery stores, fresh food stores, butchers and supermarkets in the area. For the past few months, we’ve been keeping an eye on the construction of a new restaurant on Archer Street, wondering what kind of cuisine was going to join the melting pot of offerings in the Chatswood area. I got excited as soon as I realised it was going to be the first NSW branch of PappaRich – with my growing interest in Malaysian food, I’m always keen to try new places.
As soon as the doors opened in May, the queue of people waiting for a table have been incredibly long, snaking out of the restaurant and down the sidewalk. Unfortunately, K and I simply aren’t patient enough to wait for half an hour or more and so we left it until July before we actually visited. We eventually ended up going on a Saturday afternoon at 2pm – after the lunchtime rush, but even so there was still a fifteen minute wait before we got a table.
PappaRich is situated in a large space, with room for what looked like about two hundred diners. The area looked quite flexible as well, with nooks and crannies that you could reserve for larger groups if you wanted to hold a celebratory dinner in the restaurant. There’s even a play area for small children, and I noticed that staff seated families closer to this play area, and couples without children further away – a really efficient way of ensuring that all their diners have a good experience!
One of the highlights of the layout is the semi-open kitchen. Like many other Malaysian restaurants, they understand that the process of making roti is a drawcard for diners, and so the roti chef works behind glass in full view of the restaurant. Similarly, the drinks bar works in view of the customers, and K and I get a prime spot where we can see the bartender using the long-spouted kettles to make teh tarik, or “pulled tea”.
While I usually love teh tarik, I choose an Open Sesame in anticipation of it serving as my dessert as well as my drink. The soya milk was deliciously smooth, even with the ground black sesame powder mixed through. Combined with the sesame ice-cream, it was a delicious dessert drink that wasn’t too cloyingly sweet.
I’ve since tried to replicate this drink at home by buying a black sesame powder from the Chinese supermarket and mixing it thoroughly with soy milk…it was disgusting. The store-bought black sesame powder isn’t fine enough to dissolve in soy milk, and left a slightly gritty taste and texture in my mouth. I’ll have to return to PappaRich for my sesame soy fix!
We shared a roti canai – the PappaRich specialty. The roti was lovely and crisp on the outside – though Kieran did criticise it as being quite obviously a roti that had been pre-made, rather than made on the spot. I found two of the sauces (the sambal and the curry) to be a bit too spicy for my tastes as well, but the lentil based curry was just perfect.
Look at that massive chicken maryland! Reading the menu, I had assumed the ‘fried chicken’ to involve a drumstick, or maybe some wings. I didn’t expect something quite this big! The skin was crispy and delightfully sticky, but the meat a little overdone. I really enjoyed the sambal prawns and the sambal eggplant – the biryani rice as well, was very well spiced. To improve this dish, I’d look at a smaller serving of chicken (drumstick and a wing or two) with larger servings of the prawns and eggplant.
Kieran ordered the Wat Tan Hor – or sloppy noodles, as it’s known in his family. I tried the broth which was really clear and tasty – it really tread a careful line between sweet and salty. The noodles held a good smokey flavour – the real mark of a successful sloppy noodles!
Overall, I rate PappaRich an 7.5 out of 10. The food was pretty consistent, and really good value with large servings for few dollars. The menu is much larger than the offerings at similar Sydney-based Malaysian establishments like Mamak, and offers more choice for discerning diners. Service was efficient, and despite the queue, we didn’t feel like we were being rushed out of the restaurant which is something that many Asian restaurants tend to do.
It’s well worth a second visit, and we’re thinking about taking K’s Malaysian grandparents next time, to get their verdict on the authenticity of the meals.