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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bite-Size Review: Cafe Malacca at Traders Hotel, Hong Kong

I got rather excited around this time last year when I first heard that the all-day dining cafe at Traders Hotel - that outpost at the extreme western part of Hong Kong island - was finally changing its menu concept to Malaysian, or more specificially (or generically, depending how you view it) Straits cuisine.  As I was working for the company at the time, internal invitations were sent out during the trial phase for us to sample the dishes at lunch or dinner time.  But the distance from Quarry Bay proved to be too much of an obstacle, even if I had a hankering for the sour taste of assam laksa.  Then when all the trials were done and the restaurant was fully re-introduced to the public in the late summer under its new moniker Cafe Malacca, I took heed when my Singaporean colleagues remarked that the food was a tad on the disappointing side, so I never bothered heading there at all.  
Chicken Satay (set of 6)
Fast forward to this past weekend when I met an Aussie couple of Malaysian origins who downright raved about Cafe Malacca.  Raved, I tell you.  They proudly claim that they've been there more than a dozen times, have pretty much tried everything on the menu and were not shy (as they are not wont to be) about airing their opinions back to the chefs and servers regarding the quality of the dishes.  Both were tripping over each other's words to tell me how surprisingly authentic the food is (believe me, we former Malaysians have been known to be the Charlie Browns, with restaurants claiming to serve real Straits cuisine to be the football that the Lucys of the world always yank away at the last moment.) But I suppose that securing actual Penang-based chefs, some from the sister hotels, as consultants, and more importantly, to take time to painstakingly train the locals to produce the distinct dishes that would meet the approval of highly-critical Malaysian and Singaporean foodies, gives Cafe Malacca a big step up from its very limited competition in this field.

And so that is how I ended up at the nethermost regions of Sheung Wan a few days ago, armed with an appetite and a half, and a friend who brought along her blessed employee discount card which gave us a whopping 50 per cent discount off of everything we ordered.  We put that baby to good use 'cos while those dishes may be Penang hawker-approved, their steep hotel prices weren't.

Here are our most recommended dishes at Cafe Malacca (including that chicken satay in the above photograph) :
Char Kuay Teow
Bak Kut Teh (the broth was a tad too sweet, but otherwise yum)
Penang Prawn Mee Hoon
Fried Carrot / Radish Cake
Hainanese Chicken Rice - the best one in Hong Kong to date
The bright, airy, high-ceilinged and naturally lit Cafe Malacca

Cafe Malacca at Traders Hotel, Hong Kong -508 Queen's Road West, Hong Kong
Telephone +852 2974 1234

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