By Vivienne Pearson
Taste of Melaka brings traditional Malaysian food to Byron Bay.
Open for just a couple of months and currently only for dinner, come 6pm the restaurant is always busy. The small space is comfortably set up with cushions and seating that caters for two people for a quick meal or a group of six to eight for a settle-in dinner.
The Taste of Melaka team, after running successful restaurants in Melbourne and Sydney, found themselves in Byron Bay, thanks to friends, and realised that there were no other Malaysian restaurants here.
The key to their success is their authentic food, with everything prepared from scratch onsite. Sambal is the main ingredient in Malaysian cuisine and Taste of Melaka’s sambal has 25 different ingredients, including lemongrass, cashew, vinegar and shrimp, all made onsite.
I watch staff expertly throw dough for roti bread, another mainstay of Malaysian cuisine. The Roti Canai offerings are a mix of traditional and more westernised versions. Traditional ones include Roti Telur, with egg combined with the roti dough, and Roti Plaster, where the egg is ‘plastered’ on top instead. A more substantial traditional roti is the Murtabak, a folded roti with onion, egg and minced lamb or chicken inside.
Other traditional Malaysian dishes, such as Laksa, Nasi Goreng and Beef Rendang, sit alongside the South Indian-influenced Dosa; pancakes made from rice and black gram (a pulse). You can choose your rice plain or flavoured with coconut and spices. The most popular dishes so far are the Beef Rendang and the Barramundi Fish Curry. New to the menu is Sambal Sotong, a calamari-based dish.
The drinks menu offers many delights, including a milk drink made with turmeric, honey and figs, sweet Malaysian tea, saffron tea, a ‘Milo dinosaur’ (one for the kids) and something I haven’t seen since living in Britain but apparently is on the menu of many Malaysian cafes, Horlicks.
Sweet roti are the go-for dessert – either with banana or chocolate or Kaya, a coconut spread that is often eaten on toast for breakfast in Malaysia.
Takeaway is an option – via the easiest local phone number to remember – 6685 8585! Bookings are only taken for groups of around 10 people. Keep an eye out for plans to start opening for lunch.
Whether you have travelled in Malaysia, miss your favourite Malaysian cuisine from elsewhere, or simply want to try flavoursome food, check out Taste of Melaka.
Taste of Melaka: Shop 9, 8 Fletcher St, Byron Bay (the beach end of Fletcher St). Open 7 days from 5pm. Ph: 6685 8585. Facebook: @tasteofmelakabyronbay