Lucky Suzie is the new instalment in the budding empire of the masterminds behind Devon Cafe. The hawker-style joint is both bar and restaurant, making it the first late-night venture for the team.
Owners Derek Puah and Zacharay Tan are serving up Penang street food from noon till night in an intimate, modern setting. Tan, who is also executive chef, has used local Australian ingredients to create a menu around the Malaysian food he grew up with. And it's a genuine family affair. The beef rendang and beef short ribs ($19) are both recipes of Tan's Aunty Yulia — she's one of two aunties that the chefs call upon for authenticity advice. It's necessary to order these dishes with a side of roti ($3) to soak up the rich, creamy sauce.
But they're not just serving up the classics. The green papaya and elderflower starter ($5) is the perfect palate cleanser, while spice lovers should order the kerabu chicken salad ($19), where poached chicken is served san choy bow-style with a medley of veggies and a trio of kickass sauces, including one made from calamansi, a Malaysian sweet lime. The pie tee — that is, mud crab-filled pastries with braised shiitake mushrooms and a house-made cocktail sauce ($16) — is another winner.
Of course, we have to address that purple ice cream — a dish that's been a huge drawcard for the restaurant, with fans coming in asking for nothing but. So what exactly is it? It's a traditional bubur cha cha dessert, with the sweet coconut-based soup served with shaved blue pea flower ice and that bright taro ice cream ($14). Yes, it' s very good.
Over at the bar — which is equally as important as the food in this case — big props have to go out to bar manager Marco Oscar Oshiro Giron, who's whipping up Malaysian-style cocktails. His drinks are infused with the likes of pandan and banana leaf, and come served with a lemongrass straw to boot. Giron draws his inspiration from Malay kopitiams (coffee shops) and mamak stalls, but creates cocktails that are truly all his own. The Tebu Julep ($21) — a twist on the classic with bourbon, Vietnamese mint, Thai basil and finger lime — is a personal favourite. Giron also has a serious addiction to bitters, which we have absolutely nothing wrong with.
The seasonal cocktail menu — which includes the likes of cider mulled with coconut water for winter — isn't a strict one and Giron is happy to accommodate off-menu requests and on-the-spot creations. We were fortunate enough to try the boozy Last Call: a trio of Talisker 10-year-old, Don Julio tequila and bitters in a glass sprayed with absinthe. It's a citrusy, smoky concoction and an overall doozy of a drink.
Giron's mate and former business partner, Michael Chiem, has supplied the bar with a full line of PS Soda. It's the only soda they stock, and is used for both mixed drinks and mocktails. PS's commitment to local ingredients is a nice alignment with the dishes at Lucky Suzie — a very happy marriage indeed.