PappaRich began in Malaysia, and has since expanded to other locales around the world. A couple of outlets had opened in Brisbane, but we had not tried it until their $8 deal special, to celebrate their eighth anniversary.
We went to the Garden City PappaRich outlet, which is located in the Town Square area, along with many other eateries, like Perk’s Kitchen and Devon Cafe. A sign at the entrance advertised their $8 deals, with a different item on offer each day. Another sign indicated to wait to be seated.
We were soon greeted by a staff member and shown to a table. There were a number of other tables already occupied at one end of the restaurant, but we opted to sit a little bit away from them to try to maintain some social distancing.
The eatery occupies quite a large space, with high ceilings. It has a modern feel, with some specific touches to give it a Malaysian theme. The woven wicker lampshades and chair backs are an example of this, as well as the green paneling in that verdant shade seen throughout Malaysia as a key colour in Islam.
At the far end of the restaurant was a large mirror with the stylised outline that is the symbol of the PappaRich chain etched on it. The rest of that wall had wallpaper with prints of hibiscus, the national flower of Malaysia, and wau bulan, traditional Malaysian kites. It was a comfortable temperature, with fans to keep the air moving. Thoughtfully, and in keeping with what you find in many traditional eateries in Malaysia, there was a sink in the corner of the eatery to allow patrons to wash their hands before eating.
Menus were brought to us. At the table was a notepad, and a couple of pens in a stand. As we had not been there before, staff explained that we should write down the item numbers of the dishes and drinks we wanted, then press a buzzer at the table to let staff know when we were ready to place our order. It was quite an efficient way to operate.
The menu came as a folder with many pages of typical Malaysian dishes. These were divided into sections like noodles, rice, and roti dishes, as well as dishes meant for sharing. There was also a page of desserts, and yet more pages of drinks. We had, however, gone to PappaRich with the intention of having the $8 special, which was Chicken Curry Laksa that day, and decided to stick to that, though we filed away other items to try in future. We were tempted enough by the drink options to order an iced teh tarik and a bandung, which is an uncommon find here.
Drinks arrived first. Both were served in tall mugs. Teh tarik, or “pulled tea” in translation, gets its name from the quite theatrical pouring process that mixes and cools it, and also gives it a frothy head of foam. The teh tarik here had fine froth on top, but tellingly, not the large and varying bubble sizes that you get in a properly “pulled” teh tarik. It had a good tea flavour, but could have been stronger. It wasn’t too cloyingly sweet, however, and was quite pleasant chilled.
Bandung is a rose hued and flavoured drink. Often done with condensed milk, here it was made with soy milk, which makes it more manageable for those who aren’t great with dairy. On the positive side, it was not too sweet. Unfortunately, the rose flavour was very faint, despite the colour, and clearly overpowered by the soy.
It wasn’t too long before the bowls of Chicken Curry Laksa were brought to the table. Given that it was their $8 special of the day, they were probably better prepared for large volumes of orders of that dish, which may have made it more efficient. We were told when we placed our orders that they had run out of the egg noodles they usually make the dish with, and chose vermicelli noodles as a replacement. It certainly looked promising when served, with a variety of ingredients poking out of the piping hot orange-gold broth. The thin, slippery vermicelli noodles held the broth just fine, and given that some places would typically do a mix of vermicelli and egg noodles in their laksa anyway, it wasn’t a jarring combination. The laksa broth itself was not as strong as we would have liked, and seemed like it might have been tempered down for less familiar palates (read: made milder to suit Western tastes). It had less umami funk than we typically seek out, and didn’t have coconutty richness. We could see chilli flakes in and on the dish, but it was not particularly spicy. There were, however, a good amount of ingredients in the dish, given the price. The chicken pieces were tender. The fish cake slices had the right springiness to them. The dish had different kinds of tofu, with crunchy fried tau pok, and spongy tau kua that soaked up the broth. There was also both braised and fried eggplant in it. With all these, the dish had good textural variation. On the whole, we thought it quite a good deal for $8.
PappaRich certainly offers a good range of food and drinks for those who have a hankering for Malaysian cuisine. The $8 deals were a good way to get new (bargain loving) customers in, and the menu interested us enough to flag it for a visit when they are open again (the Garden City outlet is currently closed secondary to COVID 19 restrictions).
Price point: Chicken curry laksa $8 when on special, usually $15.50. Drinks $4.90 and $5.90 for the iced teh tarik and bandung respectively.
Value: Good for what we got.
Address: Shop 2001, Level 2, Westfield Garden City, 2049 Logan Rd, Upper Mount Gravatt
Phone: 07 3349 3850