When we moved into the North Eastern suburbs a couple of weeks ago, one of the most exciting things for me was the fact that there were so many new restaurants for me to explore. And on one of those restaurant expeditions, we first came across Passage thru Malaysia.
It was the logo of the restaurant that drew us initially to this place. Brilliantly designed to depict Malaysia’s culinary amalgamation of traditional Malay, Indian and Chinese influences, the logo is definitely a conversation starter.
We had a pleasant dinner that day but imagine my surprise when I receive an invite to the restaurant again courtesy Australian Good Food Guide (my go to guide for all the restaurant/hospitality news of Australia).
Situated on the Main Street in Greensborough, Passage thru Malaysia focuses on traditional Malaysian cuisine in a contemporary ambience. Owned by sisters Jerena and Jasmine, the restaurant showcases all the three major influences on modern Malaysian cuisine – Malay, Indian and Chinese.
The restaurant space was earlier a bank but when renovated, they decided to incorporate structures like the vault into the design so you can actually walk into the vault room which is now a private dining area. How cool is that!
The ambience is modern with plenty of traditional touches in the form of artefacts, paintings, cartoons, props etc…all of which take you back to the Malaysian way of life. And if you know the language, you might want to spend some time looking through the drawings too, which Jasmine tells me belong to popular Malaysian artists and cartoonists.
As I already mentioned, the menu covers familiar and traditional Malaysian food across all the three categories. The staff are super friendly so make sure you ask for suggestions if you are not familiar with Malaysian food.
The drinks menu is a basic one but you will find good house wines, Asian beers and also a few cocktails. But the emphasis is on the fresh and traditional Malaysian non alcoholic drinks which is great especially with the warmer days coming up.
(The description for all the drinks and food we tried out are provided below each photograph)
Ribena Lychee – This is quite a popular drink in Malaysia and quite a famous one in Melbourne too. It’s really delicious, refreshing and those lychees inside are simply to die for. Definitely recommended and our favourite too.
Syrup Bandung – with evaporated milk and rose cordial syrup. Milk based mocktails are not a personal preference of mine especially for dinner so I must admit that I did not enjoy this one immensely. It was made perfectly and would be a great choice for afternoons or if you enjoy milk based drinks. Could be popular among children too.
Syrup Limau – A refreshing sweet grain drink with lime. This is another delicious refresher, one to be had chilled. It’s not too sweet, light and a great drink to start the meal with.
Wonton Cups (with veggies and mayo) – There are plenty of vegetarian starters on the menu and one of the most delicious ones are these Wonton Cups. Crispy cups filled with fresh veggies and mayo, almost like a coleslaw. It’s light, fresh and so delicious that you will want to order more. Highly recommended!
Curry Puffs – I assumed this would be meat based but to my surprise, it was another vegetarian delight. Not the generic, supermarket tasting puffs, you know this is handmade and fresh from the soft, buttery flakiness of the puffs but warm and crispy straight out of the oven. Filled with the most delicious veggie curry filling, another must try at Passage through Malaysia.
Crispy Shhh Chicken – My absolute favourite dish of the day! The first time we were at the restaurant, we had ordered this thinking it was just fried chicken since the name and description gave nothing away. But imagine our surprise when we found that it was actually fried chicken skin tossed with dry chillies and curry leaves. It was a revelation as I have never had anything like this before and being a chicken skin fan, I was blown away by the taste. We ordered it again the second time and even a non chicken skin lover like my husband was converted. With a nice spicy kick, this dish is an absolute must try and something delicious to munch on while your mains arrive. And of course, don’t forget a chilled beer to accompany.
For Mains, we were advised to try one dish each highlighting the Chinese, Indian and Malay influences. The first one we tried represented the Chinese influence – Stir fried vermicelli with eggs, bean shoots, shrimps and chicken. This was our favourite mains of the day; the vermicelli was cooked perfectly, the flavours balanced and each mouthful was a delicious one. Again a highly recommended one.
From the Indian influence, it was Roti Canai served with sambal, chicken curry gravy and dhal (lentil curry). Roti Canai is quite a famous dish in Melbourne and expectations were quite high for this one but unfortunately it was a tad bit disappointing. While the Roti was delicious, flaky and soft, the accompaniments were a letdown for me. The sambal didn’t really have its signature spicy kick, the chicken gravy had more oil than the gravy itself and the lentils were under seasoned.
And the final dish we tasted was the Nasi Lemak with fried chicken – the National dish of Malaysia, the Nasi Lemak is a complete meal in itself with coconut rice, boiled egg, crispy anchovies, peanuts, fresh cucumber, sambal and fried chicken. While it is not the best Nasi Lemak I have had, it was a really good one. The chicken was fried perfectly, crispy on the outside but soft and juicy inside. The accompaniments were great but the sambal could have more flavour (same one served with Roti Canai). A must try if you want experience Malaysia in a plate.
To summarize, Passage thru Malaysia is a nice neighbourhood restaurant to enjoy Malaysian cuisine. The staff are friendly, beautiful ambience and good food to match, this is a place that we will be visiting often.
Passage thru Malaysia
2/16-22 Main Street
Phone: 03 9435 4958
Tues – Sun: 12pm – 3pm and 5pm – 10pm
Disclaimer – I dined as a guest of AGFG and Passage through Malaysia. All the opinions, musings, photographs are entirely mine unless stated otherwise.
Tagged: agfg, australian good food guide, eating out, greensborough, malaysia, Malaysian cuisine, malaysian food, Melbourne, melbourne food, melbourne restaurants, north east suburbs, passage through malaysia, restaurant review, zomato