Hot Plates: Rumah Surry Hills

Author: Pat Nourse
Photography: Pat Nourse

A new, Malaysian-inspired cafe has opened in Surry Hills.

Cafés that have posies of baby's breath in milk bottles, pine-rich fit-outs and beans from savvy local roasters. Kopitiams that do decent roti, soft-boiled eggs and slather kaya on toast. These two universes have hitherto been discrete (in Sydney, at least) but with the arrival this week of Rumah in Surry Hills, next to the Wild Rover, you can have your T Totaler Summer Fields and have your roti John and eat it too.

The kaya, the caramelly coconut spread that enlivens breakfast in Singapore and Malaysia, is made to a family recipe, and comes with buttered toast and the "make it Malaysian style" option of two onsen-style eggs. Better still, you can have it in madeleines baked to order.

On the savoury side, lunch is more of a pan-Asian-meets-Surry Hills affair: "Isaan" quinoa salad with Thai pork sausage, for instance, or pumpkin, pepitas and sultanas spiced with garam masala and dressed with honey vinaigrette.

The Asian Cuban, meanwhile, successfully combines pleasingly fatty five-spice roast pork and luncheon meat with thick-cut pickles, Swiss cheese and mustard. (It's $14, mind you, but, hey, welcome to the 2010 circa 2016.)

Is the coffee, made with Cabrito beans, of such quality that you wouldn't bounce instead up to   Paramount Coffee Project, Corduroy or indeed around the corner to   Single Origin? No, not really. Nor does Rumah offer teh tarik or kopi O or any of the trad Malaysian caffeine hits, so maybe the cold-pressed Liver Tonic is the go instead, chased with a slice of pandan chiffon cake.

Service is prompt and pleasant, and the reading material is promising, despite the glaring absence of Gourmet Traveller: current issues of DriftMonocle and - joy of joys -New York magazine.

But wait, there's more. Owner Riszal Nawawi and his cohorts also run the 15 Sheets menswear store in the Bangsar neighbourhood of KL, and are in the process of moving it and its premium American and British brands (Descendant of Thieves, Ivy Prepster and Slvdr among them) to a space above the café later in February.

We'll be back in the meantime for the green-curried egg sandwiches. See you there.

Rumah, 71-73 Campbell St, Surry Hills, NSW, open breakfast and lunch Mon-Sat.


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