Getting your dose of Penang street food is now much easier with the opening of Jilat Jilat Cafe in Darlinghurst, saving you an eight hour flight.
Just off Oxford Street, step into a colourful cafe that in the morning offers Australian cafe standards, and from lunchtime through to dinner it provides Malaysian street food.
The kitchen is tiny, but the menu is large, and includes classic favourites such as char kway teow, beef rendang and Malaysian chicken curry. You’ll feel like you’ve teleported to Penang in a click of a chopstick.
The chicken in the curry falls off the bone and the sauce seeps perfectly into the depths of the potatoes so every creamy bite is wonderfully curried. Perfectly curried potatoes can bring you a significant amount of food joy and the depth of the flavour in the curry is what Penang and Malaysian food is really known for. At $16.90, it’s well worth it.
The rendeng beef is slow cooked for 12 hours, pulls apart and melts in your mouth with a flavour bringing together a complex combination of coconut, chili and lemongrass for a perfected classic rendeng. $16.90.
The char kway teow shows skill in wok-mastery delivering perfect charred smokeyness in the noodle. The speed the noodles are pumped out of the kitchen at Jilat Jilat is reminiscent of hawker stalls across the Asian Peninsula – who manage to cook some of the best food in the world at rapid pace. $16.90 is a small price to pay for the classic made by an expert team who have run restaurants across Malaysia and Singapore.
Also on the menu is the Char mee sua noodles with king prawns, an old-fashioned noodle dish, using an ancient recipe. The noodles are fried, boiled and fried again – and the effort is worth it making for a richly flavoured dish of wheat based noodles. Jilat Jilat suggest they are the only place in Australia to make it. $17.90.
Among the extensive list of classic dishes though, there’s a level of innovation too. For one, there’s the unmissable chicken curry pie. The pastry is buttery, flakey, crispy and light. In itself it’s a feat. Inside, flavour packed shredded chicken and a salted duck egg are jam-packed into the homemade pastry casing. There is no vacant space in this pie, no soggy sauce, no questionable bits of meat. It’s pie perfection.
Accompanying the pie is a ramekin of curry sauce, for dipping. If a roti and a curry puff had a baby, this would it. For $8.50 this makes for a great lunch or shared entree.
The innovation doesn’t stop there. There is also a significant amount of durian on the menu, with durian butter cake and also the durian black truffle ice cream with tempura durian gummy (surprisingly delicious) and durian tuile. The durian and black truffle ice-cream arrives with the distinct durian scent, yet the homemade ice-cream is a welcome cold finish to the meal. Not for the faint of heart and a definite talking piece. $14.90 it’s a good one to share.
For lunch or dinner, Jilat Jilat is perfect to dine alone or with a large group of friends. Already a take-out favourite among locals, make a bee-line for this street food juggernaut.
Jilat Jilat Cafe 13b Burton St, Darlinghurst
Monday – Friday 10-2.30pm, 5-9.30pm
Saturday – 10am -10pm
Sunday – Closed