Aunty Fran­klee

Time Out (Melbourne) - - Food & Drink - So­nia Nair

MALAYSIAN FOOD IS well rep­re­sented in Mel­bourne, but what many Aus­tralians fa­mil­iar with laksa and roti canai may not have heard of is the Malaysian Chi­nese herbal soup, bak kut teh. ‘Bak kut teh’ lit­er­ally trans­lates as ‘meat bone tea’, al­though it isn’t made with any oo­long – in­stead, the name is thought to have de­rived from the co­pi­ous cups of Chi­nese tea that are tra­di­tion­ally con­sumed along­side the dish.

Bak kut teh is made with pork ribs braised in an earthy con­coc­tion of spices such as star anise, gar­lic, pep­per and cloves with mush­rooms, greens, okra and tofu puffs. Aunty Fran­klee’s ver­sion has all of the above plus a few gen­er­ously sized pork meat­balls. It’s herby and com­fort­ing, but sur­pris­ingly not as full-bod­ied or fra­grant as we’d ex­pect from some­thing stewed with 23 herbs and spices. Mind you, we’ve got no com­plaints about the ad­di­tion of crisp Chi­nese dough­nuts for dunk­ing in the broth.

This East Malaysian fam­ily-run restau­rant spe­cialises in this sta­ple broth, which ex­plains the hordes of young Malaysian stu­dents crammed into the long and nar­row restau­rant. The fam­ily ethos un­der­pin­ning Aunty Fran­klee is most ev­i­dent in the novel method of or­der­ing. Il­lus­trated post­cards are strewn across the ta­ble in place of an av­er­age menu, trac­ing not only each dish’s his­tor­i­cal ori­gins but the cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance it oc­cu­pies within the own­ers’ fam­ily. Wait­staff take cus­tomers’ or­ders as they read their pre­ferred choices from the post­cards; it’s an in­ter­est­ing, al­beit slightly cum­ber­some ap­proach. Al­though bak kut teh is the star – both the wet and dry ver­sions – there’s also bar­be­cued meats, char kuay teow, mother hen soup and prawn egg noo­dles. The drinks menu is brief – the lemon bar­ley is warm and com­fort­ing, while the Bor­neo milk tea pro­vides a sharp and sweet in­jec­tion thanks to its use of co­conut sugar.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.