For some reason, people seem surprised when I tell them that I have never had a meal at Chillipadi before. Given that I’m a lover of food and given that I’m in the city, like, pretty much all the time, the idea that I’ve never set foot in one of Melbourne’s most popular eateries astounds a lot of people (I have not been to Stalactites either…). I guess the main reason why I’ve been reluctant to go to Chillipadi is because of its reputation as serving basterdised Malaysian fare – kinda like what La Porchetta does to Italian food. I do, however, know quite a few Malaysians who insist that Chillipadi isn’t too bad and that I MUST try the eggplant chips if I do end up going. Well, yesterday I had a hankering for Malaysian food and so I decided to see for myself. I was planning to go to the Melbourne Central restaurant but because Adam and I were going to Costco that afternoon, we decided to go to the newish Docklands branch to save time.
I had expected a sit-down restaurant, but the Docklands eatery was more of a casual cafe-style joint where patrons ordered at the counter, grabbed their own cutlery and waited at their table for their meal to arrive. The menu only offered a fraction of what the Melbourne Central restaurant offered and I was especially disappointed to see the eggplant chips being absent from the menu. I originally wanted a laksa but because it was pretty warm, I decided on vegetarian kway teow ($8.90).
This was Adam’s tandoori chicken ($11.90). He had meant to order rendang but ended up ordering the wrong thing. Oh well. My initial thought was ‘eeek, how much carmine did they put in this thing?’, then ‘I thought he ordered chicken, not char siu pork!’ It was not the prettiest dish either of us had ever seen and it also failed in taste. The chicken was not only dry, but tasteless. There was a chilli symbol printed next to the item on the menu, implying that it was hot but we could not taste any of that. As for the salad? Okay, the mysterious purple guck is supposed to be a yoghurt dressing which was fair enough… but did they really have to use those kiddie artificially coloured yoghurts to make the dressing?
My vegetarian kway teow was a little better but not much. I was glad to see some wok hei action happening and err, that was pretty much it. It was oily. It was boring. I expected tofu and there was none. The vegies weren’t fresh. And they put too much fried shallots. Never ordering this again.
What sane and reasonable person would pay $7 to drink filth known as Beerlao? Oh yeah, Westerners with a false sense of sophistication. And Adam.
Our meal may have been terrible… yet Adam and I are still keen to give Chillipadi another go. We both believe that the Docklands eatery had no idea but if the Chapel Street and Melbourne Central restaurants can attract masses of people, then it can’t be half-bad. I, for one, am dying to try their eggplant chips as well as their laksa. I’m hoping to give the Melbourne Central one a shot to see if it’ll win me over… while avoiding the Docklands one at all costs.