22 May 2014
Sayong Curry & Laksa ~ Malaysian - Pittsway Arcade, City
This subterranean city lunch bar has a staunch following of office workers and chicken rice nerds. It's a marvel to watch during the lunch rush, customers crowd three or four deep at the counter, money and tickets change hands like it's Melbourne Cup, the counter guy yells the orders to the kitchen guy, the kitchen guy sends dishes out fast. "You want chili?" the counter guy must ask three hundred times a day, always with a smile. These guys give the impression that they love what they do: cooking masses of food on tiny margins six days a week in a tiny furnace of a kitchen. Always with the smiling.
We've sampled a third of the cooked-to-order menu and the food has been consistently good. There's possibly even a 'best-in-town' dish or two here, but we don't like to get into that. We particularly liked the Ipoh koay teow soup, the Ipoh fried koay teow and the Ipoh bean sprout chicken. We like anything with a bit of Ipoh in it.
The servings are generous and most dishes are only $8.50, such good value that we get a drink as well to bump the price up a bit. We haven't tried the dishes in the bain-marie-of-love so far, the staff have it for lunch so it's probably worth a shot.
When it's busy note that some dishes are cooked a lot quicker than others. Folks who order after you may be served before you, there's no conspiracy, it's just how they get the orders out. Chicken rice and laksa seem to come out the fastest.
Sayong is open for lunch every day and shuts around 4pm. And if you can't make into the city for a weekday lunch don't despair, Sayong is open on Saturdays as well. If you're a big Malaysian fan we reckon it's worth a trip across town for.
Hainanese chicken rice - $8.50. The chicken rice is super popular here. You get a large portion of lovely steamed chook in a pool of soy flavoured sauce, rich chicken flavoured rice, soup, chili and ginger. You can ask for a breast or leg piece, go the leg. it's juicier. We've noticed some regular chicken rice customers place an order using one word only: "leg", which sounds a bit weird if you don't know the context.
Ipoh bean sprout chicken with noodle soup - $9. Hainanese chicken with a mound of bean sprouts and a large noodle soup instead of rice. This is a great dish if your after something filling but low carb (just don't eat the noodles in the soup). Mr Shawn usually dislikes bean sprout but these sprouts are semi cooked and lightly flavoured, it works well.
Hokkein fried mee - $8.50. Hokkein noodles stir fried with pork, squid and fish balls in a sweet, dark soy sauce with optional fiery chili on the side. These guys certainly know how to fry a noodle.
Ipoh koay teow soup - $8.50. Flat, medium sized rice noodles (similar to noodles in Vietnamese pho) in a clear broth with prawns a little stir fried chicken or pork, topped with Chinese greens, coriander and crunchy dry fried shallots. It's a plain style of soup but one done very well. It's a large bowl with a lot of noodles, next time we'll ask for a half serve of noodles to get more of that medicinal broth.
Tomatoes prawn - $10. A bunch of prawns stir fried with onions, tomato wedges and some token greens for colour. The onions had a touch of bbq flavour that gave this homely sweet shiny dish some balls, small balls. A safe dish, should have gone for the sambal prawns...
Penang fried koay teow - $8.50. A classic char koay teow complete with that essential smoky wok flavour to the noodles. We love this dry style of char koay teow, where the flavour comes from the noodles rather than sauces.
Ipoh fried koay teow - $8.50. This is like a char koay teow, complete with lovely smokey breath of the wok flavour, smothered in a plain thickened gloopy sauce. The smoky noodles work wonders with the plain sauce. This is a dish we have grown to love over the years. It's a huge serve - big enough for two girly-girls, or one blokey-bloke. Or three quarters of a girly-bloke, or two thirds of a blokey-girl.
Chicken laksa - $8.50. A big bowl crammed with noodles with a good broth and an optional dollop of chili on top. This is one of the most popular dishes here, available with various proteins.
Nasi lemak - $8.50. The rice is light with just a whiff of coconut which is the way we like it. It comes with a punchy anchovy sambal on half a boiled egg, with roasted peanuts and your choice of protein - chicken curry always goes well with nasi lemak, next time we'll try it with beef rendang.
Sayong Curry and Laksa is in the Pittsway Arcade Food Court, enter via 303 Pitt Street Sydey or via Woolworths Town hall, then head down the stairs.