Monday, February 18, 2013

Review: Selera Malaysian Cafe

A popular food for Chinese New Year is the turnip cake (蘿蔔糕/萝卜糕), known in Malaysia and Singapore as "carrot cake".  Just as egg rolls can mean different things to different people, this delicacy is quite different from Western carrot cake, in that it is savoury (well, okay, so are fish cakes), and its primary ingredient is actually neither carrot nor turnip, but the daikon radish.
蘿蔔 hóng ​luó​ bo = "red radish" = carrot
蘿蔔 bái ​luó ​bo = "white radish" = daikon radish
蘿蔔糕 luó bo​ gāo = "radish cake" = turnip cake, a.k.a. carrot cake
I am used to eating turnip cake simply sliced and fried, maybe dipped into chilli and soy sauce.  But I enjoy it in other ways too, like in the Malaysian version at Selera, an eatery in Newmarket we have been frequenting on and off for years. There, it is fried with egg, soy sauce, mung bean sprouts, and spring onions in a delightfully spicy mixture.

Soft cubes of fried turnip cake, egg and vegetables in a salty, spicy sauce.
"Carrot cake" is not the only item on the menu worth eating at Selera though.  Their mee goreng is beautifully hot and juicy, if a little sweet, and the giant bowls of laksa served here are not just tasty, but great value for money.

Vegetable laksa and mee goreng.
You will find your usual hawker favourites here, from char kway teow, to nasi lemak, to Hokkien mee, to Hainanese chicken rice. Those with a smaller appetite can nibble on snack items such as satay chicken, lobak roll and roti canai.

The eatery feels more pleasant now that the footpath outside has been upgraded, and the redesigned menu which came out last month is easier on the eye too. Our only complaint would be that the chopsticks left in a holder on the table are prone to feeling sticky.  This can be off-putting, but rest assured that Selera has an "A" food grade rating, and nothing untoward has happened to us yet.  We're not letting this minor detail get between us and good food anyway.

Panda Recommends

Mains: Mee Goreng ($13.00), Carrot Cake ($13.00), Curry Laksa Noodle ($14.00).  We have yet to try everything, so there are no doubt other great choices.
Avoid the Selera tofu ($7.00) or the Spring Rolls ($5.50), unless you like generic sweet and sour sauce.

Vegie Pandas
Oh, this is a tough one.  Malaysians love to use shrimps in their cooking, and you will find it in the lemak sayur (vegies in coconut milk, $19.00) as well as sambal anything.  Mix Vegetables with Garlic ($19.00) would be safe, but boring.  The Vegetable Laksa Noodle ($14) is great, but I haven't checked the ingredients.

Menu - page 1

Menu - page 2
Restaurant Details

Selera Malaysian Cafe
487 Khyber Pass Road, Newmarket, Auckland
(09) 520 7977

Opening hours:
Mondays to Sundays 11:30am - 10pm

Selera is on the corner of Khyber Pass Road and Osbourne Street.

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  1. Mmm I Love Selera! I've looked at the carrot cake before and wondered what it was!

    1. Haha, it might not be what you are expecting, but I can assure you it tastes great!


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