Given Malaysian cuisine’s eclectic fusion of exotic flavours, who could resist an invitation to dine at the Ria Malay Kitchen? I can’t quite believe I’ve never been here before; it’s been on my radar for several years, but I guess in the foodie paradise we call home, there are always distractions.
Once the site of a Mongolian hot pot restaurant, this large space now features an eye-catching mural on the back wall and a groovy back-lit red bar. It’s a busy spot on a Saturday night with happy groups of Leederville revellers coming and going.
The menu looks vibrant and interesting and there are so many dishes I want to try. Fortunately The Prof is keen to share so we get to double up on the taste sensations. We forgo the starters and decide to go straight to the mains, with steamed rice and a salad on the side. The eggplant salad takes our fancy and arrives on our table glistening with vibrant colours of red, purple, green and orange. The dressing is light and oil-based and allows the simple flavours of the salad to shine through; a good contrast to the spiciness of our other dishes. The vegetables are crisp and fresh, the peanuts crunchy, and the eggplant silky smooth.
Choosing a curry isn’t easy with the options in front of us, but we concur that chicken is a must. Even so, there are about six different chicken dishes so the choices aren’t easy. It’s a tough job, right? In the end, the Nonya Chicken wins out. Cooked in coconut milk and with cinnamon, coriander and chilli spices, this is a traditional Malaysian dish with a rich, thickly satisfying sauce.
The spiced fish dishes sound amazing, and we settle for the Lemongrass Fish & Prawns – a melange of fish and prawns in a tamarind and coconut sauce. Yes I know, we’ve chosen another coconut flavoured dish, but the flavours in this one are quite different to the Nonya Chicken dish. The tamarind offsets the richness of the coconut, the cashews provide a welcome crunch, the red chillies provide heat, and the fish and prawns are full flavoured and plentiful. Delicious.
Our other companion chooses Mum’s Loh Ak, or the braised caramelised duck, with a roti paratha. The Prof also taste tests the duck and proclaims it rich and tender. I’m so full from our three dishes that I can’t eat another bite, but it looks luscious and I reluctantly just have to take their word for it.
Ria Malay Kitchen serves a good selection of beers and wine by the glass ranging from $8.50 to $11. The service is friendly and attentive, and the atmosphere bustling but relaxed, and not too noisy. Most importantly the food is delicious and I’d love to return and try some of the other menu items, particularly the spiced fish dishes.