The Malaya was founded in 1963 by Wong Tai See, a merchant seaman who migrated to Australia from Hong Kong in the 1940's. It began business by challenging the conservative Australian palette with authentic spicy dishes based on traditional south east Asian cuisine. The Malaya has evolved with the times with its sweeping water views, a contemporary restaurant space and a new range of seafood dishes from Head Chef Mustapa Jaffar, that reflect its new harbourside location.
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For a restaurant that has been around since the 60's, The Malaya is showing no signs of slowing down in middle age. Established at a time when the average Australian palate didn't have the appetite for Asian fare that it does now, The Malaya's spicy cuisine still managed to tickle the tastebuds of diners traditionally accustomed to meat and three veg. Fast forward a few decades and our love of spicy food is legendary, and The Malaya is still there to keep hungry Sydneysiders very happy.
Though The Malaya has a new waterside location at King Street Wharf (it moved just in time for the Olympic onslaught of 2000) the restaurant is still in the hands of the founder's family and the food is as delicious as ever. Good examples of Nonya cuisine, which draws from not only Malaysian but also Singaporean, Indonesian and Chinese roots, is still rather difficult to track down in Sydney. But The Malaya was and is still the front-runner when it comes to this elegantly spiced cuisine style. The signature dishes have truly earned their reputation; the laksa passes up coconut milk for the real McCoy, which results in a lighter style of soup that is still fabulously aromatic and loaded with king prawns. The Szechuan eggplant is another tempter, dry-fried with shallots, cashews and chillies on a bed of English spinach. Do yourself a favour and take along as many friends as you can muster; The Malaya is perfect for groups and has an impressive selection of banquet menus to feast upon with a strong Australian and New Zealand wine list to match.