Penang Coffee House
If you lived locally, you'd already be a regular. Such is the irresistible Malaysian hawker-style food being served from the sizzling woks at this veteran Hawthorn establishment.
Attentive staff deliver deeply flavoured soups, noodles, nasi goreng and curries to familiar faces, couples and families dining in the simple, unpretentious surrounds. With nothing over $20, corkage at a staggeringly low 80 cents per bottle and cash only, this is cheap eating at its best.
You could start with spicy chicken mini drumlets or order from an interesting specials list, which often includes Pie Tee (pastry tartlets filled with diced Chinese sausage, root vegetables and spring onion).
The Laksa Lemak is thick, rich and earthy, while a pungent, dark and fiery Har Mee (spicy Penang-style prawn noodle soup) transports you to the kerbsides of Southeast Asia. Dishes are generous, as evidenced when the Chef's Creation arrives – a fragrant, spicy plate of Thai fried vermicelli with seafood that’s enough for at least two.
Desserts range from a familiar Sago Pudding through to a wild and wonderful Ice Kachang – a mixture of green jelly, sweet corn, red beans and lychee covered with ice, red syrup and evaporated milk.
Local or not, it's worth a look.