The highly anticipated Malaysian chain restaurant, PappaRich, opened up in Canberra on the weekend. Going through their menu online, I love the fact that all food and drink items have a picture against it.
Two of my friends and I decided to dine there on Monday evening. We knew it was very busy on the weekend, so decided to meet up at 6pm. I was the first there and tried to secure us a table, however I was politely informed that ALL diners had to be present before you were allowed to sit in. This is actually a really good system for both the restaurant and diners, e.g. waiting half an hour for someone who is always late (we all know one) forces everyone to be on time. I received a raffle ticket to hang onto, which I thought must be my place in the queue. About 10 minutes later, and waiting for friend #3, my ticket was called and we were ushered inside (kind of contradicts the whole all diners must be present rule).
It was packed! Good to see 90% of diners were Asian – always a good sign for Asian food.
Menu items have a specific numbering system. Diners fill out an order pad of what they want, press the little buzzer on the cutlery holder which produces a buzzing noise and you see your table number flash on a screen against the wall, before someone arrives at your table to take your slip of paper to the kitchen. It took a few buzzes to get someone to come over. I don’t think there is a designated person looking after a certain area. Basically, whoever is closest and available will arrive at your table.
There is a large drinks menu (with pictures!). I chose the lychee cincau ($5.90) because it looked awesome in the menu photo plus I like lychee. In the photo, it looks like it comes in your average coffee cup. It doesn’t. It comes in one of those over sized mugs – almost a meal in itself! Besides the fact that the drink was iced, there was no explanation of what lay underneath the toppings of grass jelly and lychee fruit. I figured it must be a lychee tea or something. I was happy to find that it was filled with lychee sorbet! I do love my sweets so this was a good choice for me. A great drink on a 30 degree day.
I really wanted to try the roti here but the laksas and other noodle dishes looked so appetising and nearly swayed me. I stuck with my original craving – the roti canai with curry chicken ($12.50). I thought the roti was quite crispy, not the soft and fluffy roti I was expecting. Still fresh and yummy though. I was a tad disappointed that there wasn’t enough roti either, but I was happy with a really tasty meal. I could see that the chicken curry was oily but it tasted so good. I might try a different roti next time – like the one stuffed with onion and egg, or the coconut jam.
My friend’s mains are below – all were satisfied with their meals. Though the congee was a little plain even with the steamed chicken.
For dessert, I chose the egg sago pudding ($6.90). Served in a cute stemmed glass bowl, I found this was a very light and sweet dessert. The egg pudding tasted a little bit like creme caramel with some kind of sweet caramel-like sauce on top. The sago in coconut milk wasn’t particularly sweet, but mixed with the caramel sauce, there was a good balance of sweetness. This was a very small dessert – perfect if you are or don’t want to be too full.
The restaurant is squishy inside and it’s hard not to bump into a chair or wait for a waiter to finish serving before trying to get out. There is more seating towards the back but I didn’t walk down to have a look. It’s also quite loud inside, mainly because everyone is packed in close together. I had to raise my voice and lean in to listen to the conversation, but it wasn’t as bad as pub noise.
Definitely going back to try some noodle dishes. Drooling as I keep looking at the menu photos. I should also mention the first main arrived about 5 minutes after the waiter had taken away our order. Very surprised at how fast that was considering the place was packed out. Happy with the super fast service, cheap prices and yummy food. Another good point is that all their meats are supplied by Halal certified suppliers. There are no specific gluten-free or vegan-free items on the menu, however the website states a few ingredients can be omitted from certain dishes. I noticed a few of the wait staff didn’t speak English very well but the benefit of the easy ordering system here means they don’t really need to (unless you need to explain about dietary requirements in which case a few other waiters spoke perfect English).
PappaRich is located on the ground floor of the Canberra Centre near Easy Way and Nando’s. Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner (they also do take-away). Their website states they’ve won many awards, one of which is the 6th Asia Pacific Super Excellent Brand in 2010. Not just excellent, but SUPER excellent!