Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Old Malaya Cafe

It's strange when you think that there's nothing left to excite you foodwise in mainstream Orchard Road, that you stumble onto a gem.

And that is exactly what we found last week whilst at the basement food center of 313, the last place that I thought I would find something new and exciting. While it is new in discovery, but rich in old tradition where the food is concerned.

The gem is the Old Malaya Cafe, which is designed to model after a traditional coffee stall, and is steeped in atmosphere.

But the food is the thing, and no measure of atmosphere can replace the aroma and taste of a treasure, and what a genuine delight we had when we had our food.

The popiah we ordered was done almost perfect. The popiah skin was just nice, not too hard or stale, and soft but firm enough to hold the ingredients within. The chinese parsley, garlic, peanut bits, sweet sauce and the popiah veggies were just the right mix and balance. Flavors that explode in the mouth!

Pauline did complain the garlic was just a tad bit too strong, but being a vampire slayer, I am usually fine with a bit more raw garlic, but then again, not every one is Van Helsing like myself :)

Pontian Noodles
The star of the meal was undoubtedly the Pontian Noodles. I have had the usual franchised Pontian noodles around town, (the ones at Marina South and United Square) and while they are not too bad, this one (to me) beats the competition hands down.

It is something about the texture of the noodles, which we Chinese describe as "qq", meaning a texture that once you bite into the noodle, you get that bouncy yet tender within feeling. And then, there is the matter of the deep fried wantons, which are very strangely shaped, as if they are a bit squished.

Soupy Wantons
But I will get to the wantons in a second, but the noodles themselves, let's just say we gobbled it up in a matter of minutes! The sauce, noodles and wantons are perfect, but if that was not enough, you also get a 'bonus' of a soup with the regular wantons as well.

Deep Fried Wantons
We liked the wantons so much, we just had to order a separate plate on its own. Just check out the picture and the curiously shaped wonders! It is something about the pressed shape nature that makes the texture so unique, though Pauline did think the deep fried skins were a bit too much and preferred more filling.

Chicken Rice Balls
They also had chicken rice balls which were popularised in Malacca. However, the rice balls were far too grainy for our liking when compared to even the local ones here (Hainan Chicken Rice Balls eg.). But for those who never had these before, it is still palatable but certainly not as flavorful.

The Old Malaya Cafe was a joy to dine and to have a chat and coffee as well. I can imagine spending a lot of my Orchard time there, especially after a particularly hefty shopping spree by my dear wife.

For those who fancy good old malaya fare in the middle of modern Orchard Road, Old Malaya Cafe gets my vote as the ideal pit stop, be it for a quick snack or a full meal. There were also other classics like Prawn Mee which we did not get to try, but then, that is for another day :)

The Old Malaya Cafe at B3@313 Somerset

Click here for the youtube link.
Click here to download the HD version.

Written, filmed, edited and directed by Silverchef Productions.
Shot and edited entirely on Apple's Iphone 4 and at The Old Malaya Cafe itself.
No popiah was harmed in the shooting of this video.
"You Run Away" performed by Barenaked Ladies.


  1. Looks like a good place to have lunch in Orchard!

  2. yeah! esp if you like classic food but in a mod surrounding

  3. What's the pricing like?

  4. Ian.. al dente - Cooked enough to be firm but not soft. That's we Chinese called it: QQ.