I’ve only been away from Sydney for a year, but it feels as though areas like Eastwood have completely transformed. There’s such a range of restaurants that locals are spoiled for choice. Any restaurant that doesn’t tick the three primary boxes of value for money, taste and fast service, isn’t going to be in business for long in this area.
Kreta Ayer is one of the new restaurants that have opened up in the time that we’ve been away from Sydney. In the space that was formerly occupied by long-time local institution Homer’s Cafe, Kreta Ayer offers a large range of Singaporean cuisine. Will the variety on the menu be its downfall? Sometimes, picking a niche and sticking to it is a much more successful approach in Eastwood.
We started off with the Boneless Hainanese Chicken Laksa, a mix of the tender poached chicken that one would more normally find with Singaporean chicken rice and a creamy laksa noodle soup. In eating this, I found myself wishing I had some of the fragrant rice one would normally have with Hainan chicken, or even for some plump prawns in the laksa.
While each element was delicious on its own, I think I would rather order a chicken rice and a seafood laksa separately next time, to ensure that you get those extra ingredients that really complete the dish.
We went on to try the Penang Char Kway Teow, a dish full of the desired wok hei, but lacking a broad range of ingredients. While the dish was heavy on the noodles and bean shoots, it lacked sufficient plump and fresh prawns, or even Chinese sausage, lupcheong. I felt like Kreta Ayer skimped on the quality ingredients here, delivering less value for money.
I wish I could say that the prawns that should have been in the laksa and the char kway teow were in the Cereal Prawns…but I would be lying. With less than a dozen cereal prawns in this dish, it really didn’t go very far in our group of three diners. And while I liked the concept of the cereal batter, I felt like it lacked thoughtfulness in execution. As the prawns were not de-shelled prior to battering, you lost the batter when you peeled the prawns and ate them. What then, is the point?
We finished with the Pork Ribs – surprisingly well executed and a larger serve than expected. The healthy serving of chewy pork ribs coated in a sweet and sticky sauce was very welcome.
Look, Kreta Ayer has one thing going for it – as far as I know, it’s the only Singaporean restaurant in Eastwood, and stands out as quite unique amongst a crowd of Cantonese and Shanghainese restaurants. However, if they don’t ensure they can tick all three of those boxes – value for money, taste and fast service – they won’t be around for long. Locals are discerning, and restaurants won’t make the cut in the long run if they can’t measure up to the likes of Taste of Shanghai.
Kreta Ayer is located at 172 Rowe St, Eastwood Sydney.