Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam

Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam

295 Raceourse Road
Kensington, VIC 3031
03 9376 0228

Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam

The name sounds like quite a mouthful. Chant with me… “Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam”… ha ha! I have no idea why I find it soo fun saying it. It’s got to be the most innovative eatery name. At work, my colleagues would look at me in puzzlement as I say out loud that I’m going to be eating at “Chillipadi Kopitiam of the Mamak tonight!”. Like a mantra. They’d think I’m speaking in Malay or some obscure Chinese dialect. Let’s keep them wondering. : )
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I seem to keep coming back here for hawker food, so I think it’s time to write a post about it. I have an Asian palate and it is Singapore-based. This place serves mamak-style (Tamil Muslim) Malaysian food, so the dishes will be different from home, but still there will be many parallels with Singapore’s hawker cuisine. It’s as close to home as I can get here. So I was thrilled to hear about this place on twitter and the food-blogosphere.

Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam
My first visit here was just a week after I’d returned from Singapore, crammed with high hawker food standards! I needed a break from photos and food-blogging so I did not bring my camera. Bad move, lol. The meal was great!! The char hor fun, sambal ikan pari and thosai tasted authentic and brought my heart closer to home. I wanted to come back.
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The homely, diverse and exciting looking menu draws you in and entices you to come back to sample more. It felt like a menu I might see in a kopitiam in the vicinity of Little India in Singapore. I like how they’ve whimsically segregated the menu categories with terms like “Kaki Chiak” (ownself eat – individual dishes) and “Kongsi Chiak” (partner eats – share plates).

Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam
Teh Peng $3.50
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Many of the drinks on the menu are classic kopitiam drinks that you can get back home. I knew I had to order my favourites. 90% of the time, if it isn’t 100 plus, I’d be getting teh peng - tea with condensed milk on ice. This is hands down the best teh pengI’ve ever had in Melbourne.

Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam
Kopi Peng $3.50
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Swells ordered the kopi peng – coffee condensed milk on ice, when we ate here together. It’s not as punchy with coffee aromas as the teh peng was with the tea-strength, but I thought I’d still be quite happy with that drink.
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Has anyone tried the tau huay chooi (soya bean drink) there yet? I’d really like to find out if it’s nice. I love a good glass of freshly made tau huay chooi, it tastes so fragrant and different from So Good, Bonsoy and Vitasoy’s soy milk that you can get in supermarkets.
Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam
Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam
Curry Fish Head $18.00
with okra, eggplant, tomato
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Ees and I were making pineapple tarts one Saturday. After spending forever cooking the filling, we got irritated with the whole thing and decided to have a brief interlude at CPMKopitiam for lunch. I suggested the fish head curry and he was happy to try.
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This was a satisfying dish, and we had a pretty big portion of it too. The fish head pieces were deep fried before being put into the curry, that’s a style I’ve not eaten before but it tasted nice. Crisp fish with curry. Sadly, they didn’t have any okra (ladies fingers) that day, my favourite curry veggie.
Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam
While I’d say the fragrant spices and chilli-hotness of the dish could be increased at least three-fold, I must say that the flavours were still pretty authentic. They reminded me of how the Indian restaurants back home would cook it. Ees and I were happy enough with toned-down spice flavours, it’s still much better than eating rubbish curries with all the wrong spices.
Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam
Thosai $6.50
Malaysian Indian rice pancake with accompaniments
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Look at the size of that delightful thosai! It came to our table fresh, hot and crisp. I love the slightly sour taste of thosai and have no idea where it comes from. Sour cream or yoghurt? The thosai I had on my first visit was even better than this one, perfectly cooked with no blotching on the edges.
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It’s usually served with lentil dhaals, curries and chutney. They didn’t serve it with dhaal this time, which was a pity because I really like thosai with dhaal. But all the same we were having a ball of a time dipping the torn off pieces of thosai into the fish head curry. Mmm… soo goood!
Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam
Ees, attacking his curry fish head
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Mid-way through the meal. Ees simply commented that this place was a good recommendation. I too could tell he was really enjoying his meal here, which was a first. With Ees, he eats quite inscrutably and I normally can’t fathom whether he likes what he is eating or not.
Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam
Air Mata Kuching $3.50
Ice longan drink
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These thirst quenchers came along with the fish head curry. I like how they are served in a jam jar. Just adds to the quirky, modern-yet-retro kopitiam feel to the place. That brown floating wisps in the drink is something that I really covet after when having cooling Malaysian desserts and drinks. To me, it is a key ingredient in cheng tng.
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I’ve recently spotted a picture of the Leng Chee Kang dessert on the menu, it looks like cheng tng. I’ll try that next time, it might be the closest thing to cheng tng that I might ever get to have in Melbourne.
Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam
Ribena Lychee $3.50
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When this drink came. We both had a sip and looked at each other. Who’d have known that lychees and ribena would go well together? Another drink combination I’ve not had before. Even within the context of Malaysian food, there are so many things that I’m not familiar with. That’s so great!
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Ees and I went back home with full and satisfied bellies and continued to finish making the pineapple tarts, which turned out pretty tasty!
Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam
CPMKopitiam’s customer demographic is currently quite Asian. And I think mainly Malaysian and Singaporean.
Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam

Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam

Oh Chien $12.90
Oyster omelette with chilli sauce

Jo and I came here on a Thursday after work. It was a warm evening and while our bellies were hungry at work, we suddenly felt less hungry when we walked out into the heat.
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Oh chien could be considered Malaysia’s version of orh luak in Singapore. I think both dishes are quite similar except maybe less starch is used in oh chien. I love a good orh luak. And good orh luak is difficult to come by even in Singapore.
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I thought this dish was quite authentic in flavour and the chilli sauce was more or less correct and it tasted good with the dish. You can’t find small oysters here, so what they’ve done instead is cut up the oysters and fry so that you won’t get one big of mouthful of oysters when you eat it. The oysters tasted fresh but could’ve been slightly less cooked. The dish smelt and tasted good and my only gripe is that it was quite scarily oily.

Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam
Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam

Assam Fish Laksa $9.90
Noodle, pineapple, onion, mint, fish pieces, hae ko with fish-based sour broth
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Jo seems to like her Assam laksa (aka Penang laksa) and ordered this when we ate here together. It’s been ages since I’ve eaten Penang laksa, so I think I’ve forgotten the full flavour palette for this strong tasting noodle soup. What I remember was it’s supposed to be very spicy, very sour, thick and meaty with fish broth, and full of other aromatic infusions from the hae ko (prawn paste), pineapple and mint. I remember sitting by the roadside beside a dirty drain in Penang having a bowl of assam laksa. It was sooooo spicy and fragrant that my tummy nearly imploded, but maaan was that an amazing bowl.
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The soup was not sour and not spicy enough for Jo and she only thought it was okay. She also commented that they always serve the laksas here with thick udon-looking noodles and that it wasn’t the same as what she remembered and preferred.
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I thought the soup was sour enough but could certainly have more spiciness and fragrance punch from the ingredients like hae ko and pineapple. A bit more ‘body’ from fish pieces would also be very welcome. Just crank up the spice levels and I’d be quite happy with this dish, really.

Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam

Assam laksa in my bowl. Note the thick rice noodles Jo was talking about.
Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam

Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam

Pasembor (Indian Rojak) $8.00
Potatoes, prawn fritters, egg, bean sprout, cucumber, peanuts with sweet thick gravy
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I missed out on having a plate of Indian Rojak while I was in Singapore. That means I haven’t eaten it for 4-5 years. I’ve never heard of Pasembor as a dish before, but was kinda hoping it would be like the Indian rojaks I’ve had back home. It wasn’t, lol.
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It tasted like a fusion between Indian rojak and Gado-gado. I wished the fritters were served hot and freshly fried and the hard-boiled egg be fried on the outside as well. The dish did not remind me of home and its elements did not appeal to me, so I did not enjoy this one.
Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam

I must say that I shouldn’t collect 3 visits’ worth of food pictures and then do a post about it. This post is now almost looking as long as a 9-course degustation menu post!
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I met Swells and Marc for lunch after work on a Saturday afternoon. Incidentally, that was also the day of Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. I caught a glimpse of boys with angel wings on the TV, gliding down the street with a gossamer smile. On that day, they celebrate love, tolerance and diversity. Glitter aside, this is the core of the festival’s true meaning. And in the morning, will I see these diaphanous boys softly float up into the measureless sky? Maybe towards a tranquil place where happy lives could endlessly grow?
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Alternatively, they could always shed their angel wings, join my journey and get fat with me. Nothing wrong with putting on a bit of meat, yeah? One could be a dreamer, but one should also be pragmatic. After all, we all have to eat. And eating can sometimes takes us back to our childhood… a place where pixies, angels and gnomes still exist.Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam

Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam
Ikan Sumbat Berlada $16.90
Whole fish stuffed with spices and grilled
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So gay boys aside, let’s go back to talking about yummy food. If I’m not wrong, that’s a flathead that’s been deep fried and then molested by a whole gamut of sambal spices. Poor girl. I thought the outsides of the fish was over salted. But once you got inside, the flesh was moist and I liked the sambal even though it was only mildly pungent and not very hot. Crank up the spiciness by 3-4 times and we’d be having a really good time with this dish. Swells and I still enjoyed this dish a fair bit though.
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Penny aka Jeroxie ate this same dish when the restaurant opened and she enthusiastically gushed that there was no holding back on the heat. I think I have about the same spice tolerance as Penny, so I’ve surmised that the heat levels have been adjusted since business started a few months back.
Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam
The good thing about eating out with ang mohs is I get to eat all the fish roe!
Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam
Lamb Curry $16.00
Diced lamb cooked in traditional South Indian curry
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The lamb was very melt-in-the-mouth tender. The curry had the same spice profile that you’d normally get with the mutton curries that come with roti pratas in Singapore. So I was happy. Of course this version was again toned down a fair bit, but it remained authentic. And that’s what’s important. We all enjoyed it.
Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam

Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam

Sambal Udang Petai $18.00
Prawns, sator seeds cooked with sambal sauce
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Since my visit to Restoran Aunty Lee in Melaka, I’ve started to like petai. We normally call it stink beans because of its unique bitter pungent flavour. For once, I didn’t mind the flavours being toned down a little for this dish, because petai is normally quite overpowering in taste to eat and needs to be matched with an equally strong and fragrant sambal. Seriously, I have no idea how they’ve managed to make the petai taste milder. Soak it in water for 100days??
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Marc thought the prawns tasted good with the sambal, and I let them have all the prawns while I systematically ate through the uniquely flavoured petai. Soo good with the sambal. As I was finishing the dish, I started having the confidence to want the pungency of the sambal and petai to be a fair bit stronger.

Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam

Petai… such a strange and unique bean.
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It seems the quality of Malaysian food in Melbourne is getting better and better. After so many visits, there are still more dishes, drinks and desserts that I’d very much like to try out at CPMKopitiam. The menu is just so exciting and different from other Malaysian joints.
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I know that many of the dishes’ spice level and chilli-hotness have been toned down to suit local tastes, but the flavours has retained their authenticity and bastardisation has yet to have happened. The toning down can almost be a metaphorical reminder of how far away from home I am.
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Actually I don’t blame them for adjusting the spice levels. If you think about it, ang mohs (caucasians) make up a huge part of the community in Kensington, so you want them to patronise here. They also have bigger stomachs, they will order entreés, mains and dessert, and they have wine with their meals. Seat a table of Singaporeans or Malaysians, they are so petite, eat one bowl or plate of something and their bellies cannot fit anything else.
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So I can understand why the spice levels have been toned down and I am glad that the flavours have remained authentic. If I have one wish, it would be that CPMKopitiam allow its customers to choose the spice level of the sambal and curry dishes. So that when I next eat here, I can say I’d like an extra-spicy fish head curry, and they’d cook that for me.
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Fatboo would like to end this post with a little plea:
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Pleeasee don’t forget us migrant Asians. We might have small, fussy stomachs, but we still need someplace to give heartwarming comfort food that reminds us of home. Please stay authentic and don’t ever tweak the recipes to the point that they become bastardised. You listen to fatboo’s request, can?
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You should also check out Penny’s comprehensive post about Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam here.

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Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam