Albee's is a Sydney institution. Here, you come for the curry puffs and stay for the rendang. It's had a facelift in recent years. Gone are the days of sucking your stomach in, holding your arms up and tiptoeing through the bustling kitchen to get to your seat in the back dining room. But while the space has changed, the food hasn't. It's still the same no-frills delicious Malaysian fare that the locals have enjoyed for years.
When you walk in, make sure to stop and admire the pie warmer on your left. You won't see any pies, but instead crispy fried chicken and curry puffs the size of your fist. Remember these for when it's time to order.
It's noisy inside from the chatter of families and the slurping of soups, and, with a menu as extensive as this one, it can get slightly overwhelming. But, when you're trying to work out what to order, stick to the classics and you can't go wrong.
Start with the deep fried chicken curry puffs ($2.80 each). They're soft to bite and stuffed with sweet potato, vegetables and a hard-boiled egg, which takes them from ordinary to egg-ceptional. If only they were served a little hotter, you'd happily travel for these weekly.
If you're after something authentic, then you can't go past Malaysia's national dish — nasi lemak. It's an individual meal that comes with coconut-flavoured rice, sambal, eggs, dried fish, peanuts and your choice of protein: curry chicken ($13.50), beef rendang ($14) or prawns ($13.50). But if you've been craving laksa, the restaurant makes a mean one from homemade laksa paste. The soup base is bolder than other takes, with a distinct curry taste. It might not be to everyone's liking, but it's definitely worth a try. It too comes in an array of versions to suit all taste buds.
The char kway teow ($12) is a real crowdpleaser thanks to its generous saucy serving, but don't leave without trying the beef rendang ($19). The restaurant's version of this dry curry looks the same as others, but is more fragrant thanks to the amount of lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves added. The meat is melt-in-the-mouth and the small size can comfortably feed two people.
No Malaysian feast is complete without some kind of uniquely-flavoured juice, milkshake or tea; Albee's has more than 50 to choose from.
It can get hectic during peak times, so, to avoid the chaos, we recommend visiting before the 7pm dinner rush — otherwise prepare yourself for a lineup down Beamish Street. Or, if you happen to live in the eastern suburbs, you can dine at the chain's second outpost in Kingsford.
Images: Letícia Almeida