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Penang Affair

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Penang Affair

325 Brunswick St.
Fitzroy VIC 3065
(T) (03) 9419 7594
website
foursquare
urbanspoon

Penang Affair on Urbanspoon

Much like with my last review of Roundhouse Roti, this place is also a Malaysian restaurant that’s also not really on the map for Malaysians locally. However, I did read two positive reviews of the place here and here and there was also the high rating on urbanspoon so off I traipsed, with a friend on that day in Melbourne last week where it bucketed down with rain.

Firstly, I must commend Penang Affair’s slightly verbose and very over-the-top owner, he seems to have garnered quite a legion of fans! Many of the things I heard about this restaurant (including the comments on urbanspoon) all seem to recommend him as somehow the main dish… or at least a source of entertainment that alone makes the trip worth it.

Onto the food. The dish I’d heard most about was the spicy tempura eggplant ($16.90) so that was a must-try. My companion is a vegetarian so we also ordered the vegetarian mee goreng ($10.90) and I indulged in the chilli & garlic quail that was on the specials board as a random entree.Straight away upon entering the restaurant I had the feeling that it would be catered towards the Western palate, based on the uncluttered atmosphere with minimal decoration (apart from some large paintings, one of the owner (!)) and I was mostly right. The flavours in the food overall didn’t at all feel “Malaysian”.

Starting with the quail, while the bird was cooked to perfection (and kudos to them for that) and the meat delicious, the sauce it was swimming in was too strong and way too salty. I love quail as a meat and beyond basic seasoning and spices, I don’t think the bird needs to be smothered in sauce.

The mee goreng was by far the worst dish there, pretty much all I could taste in it was tomato sauce. I have no idea if they actually use tomato sauce in it but it reminded me a lot of bad mee gorengs I’ve had in the past (China Bar, I’m looking at you). Definitely no authenticity there. The highly billed spicy tempura eggplant was probably the best dish on the night but still wasn’t anything amazing. The seasoning was nice but there was something wrong with the tempura batter. Tempura is supposed to be fluffy and crisp, this was neither.

All in all, nice try Penang Affair, and I can see you have your group of loyal (probably mostly not Malaysian, sorry) followers over there in Fitzroy but we probably won’t be coming back.

Alex’s Ratings:

Taste: 4/10

Authenticity: 4/10. The kind of ‘innovation’ that we’ve seen at restaurants peddling Westernised food time and time again. Not the good kind.

Ambiance: 5/10. Extra points for the cool paintings, nothing else stood out.

Service: 7/10. A little slow but that was due to the owner being caught by various customers trying to talk his ear off. He explained that his staff member had called in sick so he was being a one man show. He was friendly, talkative and helpful.

Value: 4/10. Poor, you can get much better quality Malaysian food for much better prices, but to be fair the ‘hawker dish’ section on the menu at least doesn’t try to overprice things like mee goreng.

Overall: 4/10

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Written by alexlobov

February 16, 2010 at 3:29 am