It felt really odd going across the Harbour Bridge for a meal, until I realised it was only 20 minutes from where I live. And for a place like Chef Rasa Sayang (25 Mokoia Rd, Birkenhead), you’ll be glad to have made the trip. This place is run by a husband and wife team from Kelantan.
This very nondescript place serves authentic Malaysian food in a friendly, family environment. Chef Rasa Sayang has only been opened a few short months, but has already amassed a loyal following. Quite a phenomenon as most of this has happened through word of mouth, – they do not yet have a web presence or even a listing in the white pages.
My Mersing friend described the char kuey tiaw ($10) here as the best in Auckland, and there’s no easier way to get Malaysians rushing to an eatery than to proclaim a place as having the best of its type. The kuey tiaw was definitely smokey (perhaps just a touch too smokey?), and had a good balance of sprouts and egg to the noodles. There was no lap cheong (Chinese sausage), but overall, it was an excellent plate of kuey tiaw.
I liked the mee goreng ($10), though it wasn’t a favourite of some of my dining companions. I like the sticky sweetness and tangy sauce coating the egg noodles, and could have polished off the plate myself.
The nasi lemak with chicken curry ($12, or your choice of beef or lamb curry) was perfectly spicy. The sambal was flavoursome, without too much heat. I thought the coconut rice was a touch too salty, but this was minor.
The massive plate of sambal kangkong ($18) was resplendent in the savoury and spicy hit of belacan and chilli. I wish these places would sell a half portion. As an aside, recently, a family member observed that it is getting very difficult finding kangkong at the Asian grocers, – it’s as if the Malaysian restaurants around the city has commandeered the entire kangkong supply.
The star of the meal was the recommended slow cooked chilli prawns ($26), which came on a sizzling hotplate. The chilli taste was mellowed by the slow cooking, and hits all the right notes of heat, sweetness and sourness. Absolutely delectable.
There are the usual suspects of favourite noodles and rice dishes for a quick meal, or if you prefer, there is also a range of a la carte dishes for a proper shared meal. This place rightfully deserves its loyal patrons, and I look forward to trying the other dishes.
Chef Rasa Sayang
25 Mokoia Road, Birkenhead
Ph: 09 – 419 9788
Opening hours: 7 days, 11am – 9pm