This post is brought to you after lunch at Pappa Rich Chadstone two days in a row.
I had just gone there with my buddy @sommystar and my family felt deprived when I told them that I was going there without them. Hence, a second visit there today.
Our family’s been fans of this franchise since they started opening in Melbourne in March 2012. My first experience was in QV, and the queues are now notorious. @sommystar tells me that the Nunawading restaurant takes bookings, but the ones I’ve been to (QV and Chadstone) do not.
My Malaysian colleagues all love going there, and my family is always happy to make it our go-to place for lunches. The key, of course, is to go slightly earlier than peak – for example, turning up at about 11 or 11.30am guarantees you a good table, but getting there after noon means you may be stuck in the queue (this has been our Chaddie experience). Prices are reasonable, with the drinks obviously a money-spinner (that said, I don’t think I’d find Malaysian-style drinks like this easily elsewhere).
We’ve browsed our way through the menu broadly, with the roti, laksa, and chicken rice staying in ‘staple’ territory. While occasionally transparent in its pre-prepared-ness, the food is tasty, fast, and consistent.
The speed with which you can be served and get out of there is excellent for when you have small kids in tow. They don’t really appreciate staying still for long, and after the roti’s done and dusted, you don’t want to be stuck with them waiting and waiting for the bill, etc. The door-bell system of service is one I love. Instantaneous + efficient. I’ve seen others take exception to it, calling it disconnected + ‘fast-food-y’. I really don’t need wait-staff to tell me about specials and fill my water-glass. Most of the time, I want to order fast, take my time eating, and get out fast. The set-up at Pappa Rich works beautifully for this. Even yesterday, when @sommystar and I were chatting through three changes of customers at nearby tables, we were left alone.
I have become a fan of the Pappa Fried Mee, which has a piquant tomato-iness. The Char Kuay Teow isn’t at all like the kuay teow one is used to from hawkers’ stalls, but it’s more-ish in its own way and I’ve ordered it a couple of times. The kids only ever order the roti, and it is one of the items that the franchise does well – fresh, flaky, crunchy. Watching the roti-makers in the glassed-in counters is fun + very kid-friendly (as long as you stay out of the way of big soupy orders…). It does, however, reveal just how much ghee is involved in making a tasty roti!
There’s something about the use of evaporated and condensed milk in drinks that I love. Maybe it’s nostalgia (fresh milk really wasn’t a ‘thing’ in 1970s Malaysia where I spent my early childhood). I still have extremely fond memories of Magnolia strawberry milk in shaped glass bottles. I loved the long-life milk that everything was made from.
People around me now (who grew up in Australia and, to a large extent, take fresh milk for granted) view long-life milk with distaste. I love it. Many times, I prefer it.
Aside from the firm Malaysian favourites, including nasi lemak, biryani rice, satay, and a few vegetarian yumcha options (that we’ve never tried, it must be said…), there’s also the hard-core plate of deep-fried chicken skin that is like a dare waiting to be taken up.
I did take up the dare once, and can’t remember who I was with, but it was a definite one-off. There’s nothing wrong with it, and it’s pretty damn tasty, but the sheer mass of fried chicken skins was enough to make it a rare order. If you were sharing it with about 10 people and just nibbling on one or two, it’d be perfect. Having a big whacking dish of them to plough through…not such a good idea.