PappaRich opened two months ago in the Canberra Centre, and since then I have tried in vain to get a table at different times of the day – last night I finally got in!
PappaRich is a Malaysian chain restaurant with Australian locations including Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne – with a Brisbane restaurant under development. I heard someone refer to it as a “Malaysian MacDonalds” and I wouldn’t go that far, but there is something of a “Nandos” feel in that there is a set menu and the food is cooked fresh to order, quickly and simply.
A friend (J) and I had tickets to a 7pm film, so I suggested we get to the centre early and attempt to get in to PappaRich. We arrived at 5:30pm and had no trouble getting a seat…because no one eats that early. Actually, within 15 minutes the place was packed – so I guess people do eat that early if they want to get in to PappaRich!
Canberra’s one and only PappaRich is located on the inside the North Quarter end of the Canberra Centre, opposite Nandos, next to Fitness First (and Hero Sushi) and underneath JB Hi-Fi. The space is bright and open, with a bunch of tables squashed in – maximum patronage for minimal space. There are some tables located just outside of the main restaurant too. There is a kitchen toward the side of the room, a constant stream of staff mills in and out at a fast pace.
We took our seats and were given menus, and then the waitress left. We figured out from the paper and pencils in our little wooden utensil block that we were supposed to write down what we wanted on the paper and then hand it to a staff member. So we poured through the menu (I changed my mind about 20 times), and wrote down our desired menu numbers on the order sheet and handed it to a random staff member as she walked past.
I got my drink well before J did, hers came after the food was delivered. I ordered a lemon iced tea – it was delicious, but not nearly big enough.
Both J and I ordered Roti Canai (Roti bread with three dips – dahl, curry and a chilli jam), expecting this to come out as an entrée, but it actually came out after the main meals. With two main meals and two large Roti dishes on the table, it was a tight squeeze!
The bread was light and fluffy and the sauces were flavoursome and just down right yummy! I wish I’d ordered another Roti, as there was quite a lot of sauce left over. Also, I love Roti.
For my main I decided on a ‘Hainan Curry Chicken Chop’, which is a piece of fried chicken topped with Hainan curry sauce and served with vegies, cucumber, chicken rice and an egg.
The chicken was a little bit overdone, but still quite moist on the inside and the Hainan curry sauce that topped it was delicious. The chicken rice was beautiful and the cucumber was a refreshing change on the plate. The vegetables seemed to be out of a frozen packet and the egg was not served sunny side up like in the picture, it was more what you’d expect from a MacDonald’s egg ring. So, half the meal was great and half was sub-standard – but the important parts, the chicken and the rice were in the first category, thankfully.
J got the Jasmine Rice with curry chicken and sambal prawns (also served with cucumber and a poppadum).
J told me she thought it was good, especially the prawns – the sambal had a perfect level of spiciness for her, a good kick but not too hot. J also wasn’t too keen on the skin left on the chicken as she doesn’t like it, unless it’s fried, but she found that it was easy enough to remove.
We both thought there could be less rice (I don’t think either of us ate more than a quarter of what we were given) and that the timing of the Roti was a little off – I always expect Roti to come first, not half way through a main meal.
The service at PappaRich was much better than I was expecting. After we realised it was a “write your order down” kind of a place, we figured that there wouldn’t be much service to speak of – but everyone who we dealt with, whether they sat us, took our order card, bought us drinks or delivered our food, were delightful – well mannered, polite and friendly. Whenever a drink or meal was delivered, it was accompanied with a smile and a cute little “enjoy!”.
I think I’d definitely try PappaRich again – there was a lot on the menu I wanted to try, and the guy next to me had an awesome looking Laksa that I wouldn’t mind having a crack at – but it felt like a fast food restaurant to me, so I don’t think I’d go there for a nice night out. Great for a quick meal before a movie, but if I wanted better quality I’d probably head to Roti House over near the Uni.