Outcome: Unanimous Verdict
Ratio decidendi: My go-to place for authentic Malaysian hawker food.
Salient features: Char Kuey Teow, (various) Nyonya kuih, Fried Radish Cake.
Scope of discovery: Wat Tan Hor, Har Mee, Nasi Goreng, Wan Tan Mee, Ice Kachang, Cendol
Case Note: The standout at Alice’s is the Char Kuey Teow (“CKT”) and Malaysians will instantly be able to identify the ‘wok hei’ that’s absent from so many pretenders in Australia. Following the ownership change (and dip in quality) at Straits Cafe in Wantirna South VIC, Alice’s IMHO has now taken over the mantle of best CKT in Australia. Credit to Ben 001 on Urbanspoon for the photo below. I’ll try to replace it with a photo of my own if and when I finally learn to reach for the camera (instead of the chopsticks) at first instance upon hurriedly sitting down with a plate of this char-ry goodness.
The other hawker dishes are above the Sydney average (albeit to varying degrees) but the CKT is the standout. Alice’s rendition of Fried Radish Cake or ‘Chai Tow Kway’ is also a welcome sight to those craving a dish that very few in Sydney offer (I can only think of 2 others). I’ve found the quality to be too inconsistent on this dish but for those needing a fix, it’s miles ahead of the (limited) competition when they do get it right.
I’d recommend skipping the desserts on the board in favour of the various ‘nyonya kuih’ on offer at the cashier. At $5 a (small) serve, it would be daylight robbery if there was any semblance of competition in this space. Again, best kuih I’ve had in Australia but given the price I would be quite disappointed if it was anything less.
Obiter Dicta: To the uninitiated, ‘wok hei’ is what hawkers describe as the ‘breath of the wok’ – which manifests as a ‘charred’ (but in a good way) appearance and smoky aroma. The ability to imbue ‘wok hei’ is very much dependent on the person behind the stove. Char Kuey Teow is a ‘skill-heavy’ dish where the quality of the end product is a function of the chef’s ability to control the heat of the wok in combining what are otherwise very ordinary ingredients.
Alice’s Makan is the hawker-dish-only redux of Makan @ Alice’s in Thornleigh (now closed).
Hours: Closed on weekdays, 7pm on weekdays.