Sri Mahkota, East Tamaki, Auckland

The Sri Mahkota restaurant chain (three so far, in Epsom, Grafton and East Tamaki) has seemingly burst onto the Auckland food scene. However, the original Sri Mahkota in East Tamaki (22D Torrens Road, Ph: 09 273 9188), tucked away in a small side street off Torrens Road has been a destination for Malaysian food enthusiasts for many years. With the franchise in place, the tattered, well-thumbed menus have given way to shiny laminated pictorial ones, and the décor has been stepped up a notch.

There is a lunch menu, with 8 rice and 14 noodles dishes; most are priced at a reasonable $12. But you can also order from the dinner menu, and this is where the magic lies.

Sri Mahkota has two dishes which they are famous for. The first is their Fish Noodle Soup ($20), thick vermicelli noodles served in fish soup with fresh fish pieces and chinese cabbage. The soup is sublime and brimming with flavour, – the bones are simmered for hours until they simply melt into the soup, resulting in the cloudy stock.  This is a huge serving, and is plenty for 2 or even 3 people.

The second is the Nestum prawns ($27). Nestum, an instant cereal made by Nestle, is a common pantry ingredient in Malaysian homes. The prawns are breaded with Nestum and egg, and deep-fried until golden brown, tossed with curry leaves and chili, and served with lots of the crunchy savoury breading. The amalgamation of sweet, spicy, chewy, crunchy sensations makes this an instant hit.

We ordered a serving of the creamy fish fillet ($28). This had similar flavours to the Nestum prawns with the deep fried fish and the use of curry leaves and chili.

The Char Kuey Teow ($16 for dinner size or $12 for lunch size) has excellent flavour without the oiliness. The flat rice noodles were fried with shrimps, chicken, squid, egg, Chinese sausage and generous amounts of bean sprouts.

To balance out the protein and carbs, we had a serving of mixed vegies ($18), – this consisted of choy sum, shiitake and button mushrooms, bamboo shoots, wood ear fungus, bamboo shoots, corn and broccoli.

Their interpretation of Malaysian milk tea ($4) had a good balance of tea, milk and sugar.

The menu is extensive and focuses on the use of traditional Malaysian spices and flavours such as sambal, belacan, assam (tamarind) and coconut milk.

The East Tamaki branch of Sri Mahkota is the smallest of the three, and it pays to book (we saw  3 groups waiting for tables).  This branch  is not licensed (the other two are licensed), but BYO is available with $5 corkage charged.

easyfoodhacks dined courtesy of the Malaysian Kitchen programme

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