Istana is a several decades-old institution of the Malaysian dining scene that’s not interested in reinventing itself to stay fresh. Instead, it’s thriving in its original form – vest-wearing waiters, heavy tablecloths, live seafood tanks and a tinny sound system that hums crooner ballads and old folk songs.

Now Isatana feels completely different from any other Malaysian restaurants. It’s certainly one of the only places you’ll receive a plate of Hainanese chicken rice with four condiments each separated into ramekins, the rice in a tiffin (those cylindrical, metal rice containers) and the chicken artfully arranged to resemble its pre-cut self, then garnished with a single coriander sprig. It’s one of very few Malaysian restaurants with live seafood tanks, and it’s surely the only Malaysian restaurant in Sydney with chairs and walls boldly coloured in mahogany and teal.

The prices for that chicken rice, wat ton hor (Cantonese-fried noodles) or fish head soup might be $5 or $10 higher than what you’d pay in a Camspie or Kingsford restaurant, but you’re not only paying for the old-fashioned service, and the honour of eating in one of Sydney’s first ever Malaysian restaurants, but also for incredibly generous portions.

Contact Details

Updated: December 4th, 2020

We do not seek or accept payment from the cafes, restaurants, bars and shops listed in the Directory – inclusion is at our discretion. Venue profiles are written by independent freelancers paid by Broadsheet.