The number of Malaysian restaurants in Brisbane pales in comparison to the seeming abundance of Thai and Vietnamese ones. It belies the fact that Malaysia offers up some of the best food South East Asia has to offer. That said, the number of places celebrating this increasingly sought-after cuisine is slowly but steadily on the rise.
A healthy sprinkling of Brisbane’s Malaysian restaurants can be found outside the CBD area. A prime example is Satay Ria of Cannon Hill – last year’s winner of the Savour Australia Restaurant and Catering Award for Best Malaysian Restaurant (Brisbane and the Darling Downs). Quite an accomplishment, given they have only been open since September 2011.
You may not expect to find a family restaurant in the Cannon Hill Shopping Plaza. Don’t worry; it is not in the food court; Satay Ria fills a self-contained space on the centre’s perimeter. Besides, the convenient location makes parking a breeze.
Despite the arguably less than glamourous surroundings, Satay Ria itself looks pretty sharp. The glass-fronted eatery has walls painted bold red, dark wooden chairs, crisp white table cloths, lantern-esque light fittings and ceiling fans with woven detailing. Though Satay Ria does takeaway, and even office and home catering, the atmosphere encourages dining in (and many do – so book ahead on weekends). There is something comfortingly familiar about it – like a jazzier version of your beloved local Chinese.
The menu divides dishes according to its main ingredient (ie ‘Prawns’) and though the sheer variety of plates on offer should foster a bit of adventurism, it is tempting to order everything from the ‘Special Malaysian’ section. It’s hard to go past Hainan chicken rice, Nasi Lemak Campur (fragrant coconut rice with a portion of chicken curry, served with sliced egg, achar salad, peanuts and sambal bilis), or roti curry. The latter is made with your choice of beef, lamb or chicken, and the accompanying roti canai are deliciously flaky.
Satay chicken or beef skewers make a tasty entree, and the Kuih Ketayap (shredded coconut wrapped in pandan flavour pancake) would make a fitting end to the meal if you have room. Fully licensed, there is a modest but more than adequate selection of beers, wines and spirits. Or, you can always eschew alcohol in favour of a longan juice.