28 Dec SugarBun, Melbourne CBD
The large Malaysian fast-food chain SugarBun moved into Melbourne late last year to bring us East Malaysian cuisine, courtesy of Francesca and Fiorn Lee. The cosy restaurant is spread over two levels and they serve well-known Malaysian dishes like nasi lemak, as well as stews and other rice and noodle dishes such as Sarawak-style laksa. Their signature dishes are the bak kut teh, which isn’t easy to find in Melbourne, and their broasted chicken. The drinks menu consists of drinks popular in Malaysia like milo, cham, Ribena, cold crysanthemum tea and 100Plus and also regular tea, beer and cider.
Just like the menu claimed, pressure-fried, tender and juicy chicken meat was contained within the very crunchy skin and the Kano sauce was a great condiment to go with it. I also appreciated the fact that it wasn’t drenched and dripping with oil.
The basic version of bak kut teh came with pork belly, ribs, a tofu puff, shiitake, enoki mushrooms and a bit of crysanthemum leaf. Tightly-packed meatballs brought the number of forms of pork in the dish to three. Also given are mixed grain rice, Nanyang Appe-hancer and you char kway. Offal and extra portions of the included ingredients can be also be added to the order for a charge. The you char kway are best enjoyed by soaking them in the soup before consuming, but not for so long that they become overly soggy. Compared to most you char kway I’ve eaten, theirs isn’t quite as oily. The Appe-hancer isn’t meant to be eaten together with the soup because its flavours compete with the more aromatic and delicate flavours of the bak kut teh broth, but it was great for cleansing the palate. It seemed to be a combination of ginger and preserved vegetable like kai choi.
The regular bak kut teh was nice, but the dry version was definitely the favourite with its dark, concentrated and salty sauce and a hint of chili. It’s not something I’d heard of before now, but it was most enjoyable. Crunchy lotus roots complimented the caramelised pork and the okra was tender but not overcooked and slimey. The dry version came with a bowl of broth on the side, so you’re not completely missing out on having the herbal soup.
SugarBun is worth a try, particularly to have a taste of what else Malaysian cuisine has to offer.
205 Russell Street
Melbourne, VIC, 3000
(03) 9650 4336