One advantage of living in a multicultural urban centre like Melbourne is the myriad of opportunities for trying out new cuisine with friends of different ethnic backgrounds who can guide you through the menu maze.
On my first visit to Singapore Chom Chom, I was glad that S, a Singaporean, was on hand to explain some of the more unusual dishes on the 200+ item menu. S credits Singapore Chom Chom as cooking some of the more authentic Singaporean dishes in Melbourne, with many dishes not available anywhere else.
With her culinary background, our party of six non-Singaporeans pretty much just let her point out some interesting dishes and resorted to ordering by number. We selected:
#1 Loh Bak ($8.30) I think meat wrapped in deep fried bean curd? Though it also came with some fried tofu.
#15 Rojak ($8.80) a cold dish of cucumber.
#41 Nasi Lemak Special ($9.80) with…um…I can’t really tell. Fried egg? Fish cake? Peanuts? Curry?
#57 Bah Kut Teh with Rice ($10.80), a pork ribs dish served in a broth. The kind of home-cooked dish that Singaporeans/Malaysians seem to wax lyrical about but not something obviously appetising for me.
#67 Assam Fish ($10.80), a sour-ish fish dish served with rice.
#95 Mee Hoon Kueh ($9.50), a kind of hand-torn starchy noodle topped with crunchy fried fish which is time-consuming to make and hence not readily available in restaurants. I’m glad this was my choice, definitely the kind of soup noodle I like.
#138 A decent Char Kway Teo, though lacking a bit of variety in colour in my view ($9.30).
Washed down with some sweet barley water, a Kickapoo ‘the original joy juice’ (like a lemon squash with a cool name), Sarsi sarsparilla and my childhood favourite, Yeo’s chrysathenum tea.
It was a hearty and super-cheap meal, coming to a grand total of about $18 per head. I’d definitely return to try more dishes, but only on recommendation – I don’t feel confident enough navigating that menu on my own and I certainly don’t want to be lumped with Westernised Singaporean food!