Monday, February 22, 2010

A hidden Hawker stall - Ashfield Cafe

The first time I heard of Ashfield cafe, my initial reaction was "There's no such place in Ashfield!!". I mean, I've only been a local for the last 20 odd years. However, after hearing about the cafe, I took a different route to the station and realised that OMG! There IS a Ashfield Cafe and OMG! They serve Malaysian/Singaporean food! WTH?!

Basically, what used to be a milk bar that sells BBQ chicken, chiko rolls and sandwiches got sold awhile back. The new owners didn't bother changing the exterior in any way. They sometimes still sell food in a hot box out the front to cater for all the school kids in the morning. However, if you actually go inside, the old fryers and grills are now gone. In its place are giant woks and jet flames to give the lovely breath of wok charred taste.

They've also used the old chalk boards to display their menu. From memory, they used to contain the price of various sandwich fillings and burgers. Now, sections of the boards contain differnet types of Laksas, noodle soups, stir fried noodles, rice and curries. Basically your typical Hawker food, in a VERY Australian Milk Bar setting.

Ashfield Cafe is also only open Monday to Saturdays. I NEVER walk past on a Saturday as its right next to the train station and I always drive on the weekends instead. After work, the shop is actually closed since they're not open for Dinner. I can't believe how many years its taken me to realise that there is a Malay/Singaporean cafe right on my door step!

I specially woke up earlier on Saturday and convinced a friend to go try out this place with me. Luckily we got there early, as the place only has limited seats and was completely packed out within 5mins of us arriving.

Chicken Laksa

First up, their Chicken Laksa.The bowl is deceptively small when it arrives. Its only when you start digging with your chopsticks that there is a heap of noodles and chicken all crammed into the small bowl. Aromatic and not too creamy, just the way I like it. I find the Ashfield Cafe Laksa a bit more "watery" compared to Malay Chinese, but considering how hot it was, I actually quite enjoyed it. I found the spiceiness just perfect for me, but my friend reckons what goes in hot is going to come out hot. *cough*

Less spicy bowl

Hokkien Mee

I was actually hoping for the Malaysian Black Hokkien Mee extra saucy version, but this was almost as good. Big juicy prawns, slippery charred noodles and heaps of other goodies.

Most of the meals average from $7-10. Definitely a good bargain for the quality of food coming out of a Milk Bar! hehe When we were there, big crowds of people ended up ordering take away since there were limited seats. From what I can see, the portions take away are as big if not bigger than eating in. Something to keep in mind when its packed!

Ashfield Cafe
2 Hercules St
Ashfield NSW 2131
Ph: (02) 9799 4539

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Simon Leong said...

the chicken in the laksa doesn't quite look right to me. looks like it's been added after rather than being cooked with it. i remember Good Living reviewing them for Har Mee a while ago in 2008 i turned up on a sunday but soon realised it wasn't open. i know some whose tried it and found it good one time but not as good the other time. i'll still try it one day i think to compare to Malay Chinese which is still unbeatable for laksa and har mee amongst other dishes :-)

SoRMuiJAi said...

Malay chinese poaches the whole chicken and then slices it, exposing the fibres and allowing it to suck up the lovely laksa broth. Looking at their chicken, it looks like they sliced it and THEN poached it, meaning it seals the whole piece of chicken so it can't absorb any soup. It tastes ok once you dig the noodles up and bury the chicken in the soup, but the problem is that there is soooooooooooo much noodles! hehe I also like how they do the traditional mix of noodles.

As for the Har Mee, I haven't tried it, but my family has and said its quite nice. I'm not a fan of Har Mee so can't really judge if its good or bad. But the Laksa certainly can't beat Malay Chinese (Will ANY place ever beat them? hehe)

The other very popular dish is the combination hor fun with the eggy sauce. I'm going to try that next time instead :D