[UPDATED OCTOBER 2013]
On the outside Ashfield Cafe is a ye old Aussie\Greek hamburger joint...
...On the inside Ashfield Cafe is a little piece of Malaysia. It oozes low rent charm to the point that we could imagine the likes of Dan Hong making an ironic yuppified version of this in Potts Point, but this is the real thing folks.
We instantly fell in love with Ashfield Cafe. It's light and airy and the folks that run this place are exceptionally nice. We love the sound of the easy Saturday morning chatter, the clinking of the wok, the chef cracking jokes with the customers from his open kitchen at the back, the boss lady making a fuss of the kiddies. We get the feeling that the owners genuinely love running the place and meeting new customers.
We ask the boss lady how long they've been here "mmm about fifteen years." Might even be a bit longer judging by ARL vintage footy poster on the wall. The customers also seem to have been coming here forever, but as newbies we are welcomed to the club. "Is this your first time here?" asked the boss lady. She seemed to know we'd be back.
The food is at the Chinese corner of the Malaysian food spectrum. There's a certain homeliness to it that suits the surrounds.
Malaysian curry puffs - $2.60 each. Like a cornish pastie with a pinch of turmeric. Excellent.
Hainanese chicken rice and nasi lemak are served on alternating Saturdays. Today's it nasi lemak day - $9.50.
A nice big homely version served with lots of goodies: super tender mouth-melty beef rendang; fried chicken with lovely tumeric flavours and colours through the flesh; some sambal squid; an a nice wet version of ikan bilis, dried anchovies with peanuts.
Har mee - $9.50. The classic Malaysian prawn noodle soup: Alison is happy with the prawny broth here, it has some depth of flavour while being light in texture.
Hainan chicken rice - $9. Nice moist chook served with a big splash of soy and sesame oil, lightly flavoured rice.
Bak kut teh - $9.50. A soup with a sweet dark meaty broth with lovely big hunks of pork, mushrooms and tofu puffs. A Singaporean may not rate it as bak kut teh, but as a breakfast soup we love it.
Fried Kway Teow - $8.70. It has the nice smoky wok flavours we love, and it's not too oily. Yum.
[BACK AGAIN OCTOBER 2013]
We ordered nasi goreng but we might have got the next one down on the menu, chicken sate with fried rice ($9). All good. This comes with the most excellent fresh sambal.
Prawn sambal $9.50 with roti instead of rice (plus $1). The sambal was amazing: fresh and spicy, and prawnie with tomato and tamarind flavours. The prawns were cheapies but there were quite a few of them so we were happy. This is our favourite dish here so far.
Pandan sticky rice - $3 for five pieces. Salty rice with gorgeous sweet pandan custardy-goo on top.
Ashfield Cafe is at 2 Herculese Street Ashfield. Ashfield Cafe also does hamburgers and western big breakfasts so it's a good option if you're dragging along a vanilla eater. We're not certain of the opening hours but we think it's breakfast and lunch only, closed Sundays.
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