The Playmaker
Let's play
  • It's Monday
    What day is it?
  • Now
    What time is it?
  • Anywhere in Sydney
    Where are you?
  • What do you feel like?
    What do you feel like?
  • And what else?
    And what else?


A sweet Malay-style Surry Hills cafe and retail space.
By Lucinda Starr
March 24, 2016
By Lucinda Starr
March 24, 2016

Perched on the lower end of Campbell Street, Café Rumah could easily be overlooked. But poke your head inside their bright pastel doors, and you'll find a unique retail-meets-dining space that has, quite literally, come straight from Malaysia.

The brunch spot takes up the ground level of the Surry Hills space, covering off the food and drink side of things, while upstairs houses Malaysian menswear boutique, 15sheets. The store is the second outlet for owner Riszal Nawawi, whose first one has been operating in the Kuala Lumpur neighbourhood of Bangsar since 2013.

Rumah uses traditional ingredients and signature dishes from both Malaysia and Singapore, giving classic menu items an unexpected twist. Grab a slice of their sweet homemade kaya (coconut jam) toast ($5), or dig into their spiced beef and egg roll (the Roti John) to kick-start your day ($9). As for lunch, Rumah brings everything from green curried egg sambos to their own Asian Cuban with five spice roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard ($10-15). You'll be able to wash it all down with a hot tea from Newtown's T Totaler, a zesty cold-pressed juice or a coffee made with Cabrito beans.

No trip to Rumah is complete without a serve of their baked-to-order kaya madeleines (three for $6 or five for $8); just out of the oven, they're a little gift from coconut pastry heaven. Anyone who grew up in Malaysia will be stoked to find their favourite childhood treats, with a rotating roster of things like kuih dadar (pandan crepes) and kuih lapis (steamed layer cake) being whipped up each day.

With light timber interiors reminiscent of MUJI's minimalistic styling, it is easy to spot the venue's underlying Asian influences. From the vases of baby's breath to their old-school black letter board, every inch of Rumah feels oh-so cute. Add in pastel accent tiles and bright white walls, and Rumah provides a sweet departure from the modern, industrial interiors of their neighbouring venues.

It might be freshly opened and yet to really find a good groove, but Rumah is bound to become a local hot-spot for weekday diners looking for something a little out of the ordinary.

Images: Bodhi Liggett. 

  •   shares
  • Reader comments...

Tap and select Add to Home Screen to access Concrete Playground easily next time. x
Counter Pixel