Underwhelming @ PappaRich, Canberra CBD, ACT

The hype surrounding the opening of PappaRich in Canberra made me think that it would possibly be on par to Mamak in Sydney. Mamak is a favourite of A and I, so we were keen to try PappaRich and hoped that it would meet our expectations. Unfortunately, my lunch at PappaRich a few weeks ago left me unimpressed.

PappaRich was established in 2005 with its first outlet in Kuala Lumpur. There are now 70 outlets in Malaysia and 7 outlets in Australia and their menu features a variety of Malaysian favourites, including Roti Canai, traditional Hainan bread with Kaya and butter, Satay, Nasi Lemak, Fried Kuey Teow, Curry Laksa, Asam Laksa, Chicken Rice, Prawn Mee and Mee Goreng.

After hearing about the long queues for a table at PappaRich, we decided to try our luck for Saturday lunch. After only a short wait, we were seated and provided with a copy of their extensive menu. 

The tables are packed tightly within PappaRich and you will easily be able to hear the conversations of the tables next to you. I found this an irritating aspect of restaurants that chose to place tables so close to each other, especially when the gap is less than 15cm, and leaves no room for privacy.

The menu and ordering system at PappaRich is an interesting aspect – on your table you have ordering sheets and pencils where you are required to put the corresponding number of your chosen dishes from the menu and when you’re ready to order, you press a bell to alert a waitress, which rings throughout the restaurant. Throughout your meal, you’ll hear bells ringing frequently with some patrons pressing it more than once with impatience.

The ordering system

My food arrived quickly and at least five minutes or so before A’s arrived. I ordered a piece of the roti canai and the ‘Pappa special’ of Nasi Lemak with curry chicken and sambal prawns.

Roti Canai

Roti Canai

The Nasi Lemak featured all the usual ingredients, however I found the sambal prawns were watery and lukewarm, which isn’t an appealing aspect for seafood. I loved the sambal flavour, which was spicy but not overly hot but chose not to eat the prawns as I was concerned by their consistency. The curry chicken had a great flavour, however the chicken featured gristle and a little bit of fat.

‘Pappa special’ of Nasi Lemak with curry chicken and sambal prawns

A ordered the Biryani rice with red chicken and sambal eggplant. A found the dish very spicy, but said that she also enjoyed the flavours.

Biryani rice with red chicken and sambal eggplant

A ordered the Roti Bom, a variant of roti canai that is thicker and sweeter, served with condensed milk and sugar. A loved the roti bom, which was fluffy and flaky and the accompaniment of condensed milk and sugar was the perfect way to end her meal on a sweet note.

Roti Bom

PappaRich also has an extended variety of favourite Malaysian drinks, including Kopi Cham Milo, teh and jelly, and iced milo along with many more to choose from.

Overall, I wasn’t impressed by my lunch at PappaRich. Although the roti’s were lovely, I found the atmosphere and the service impersonal and unfriendly (with dishes coming out at different times, the closeness of the tables and the bell that rings a waitress who arrives without a smile or pleasantries). Although the flavours of the food were good, the haste of getting the dishes out of the kitchen seemed to have played a part in my lukewarm dish and I also found the produce wasn’t of the best quality. I’d prefer to head to somewhere like Malaysian Chapter in Belconnen, who use great produce and take a little extra time to make their food. At the end of the day, I’d prefer to wait a little longer for my food to know that it’s been made as fresh as possible for a similar price.

Unfortunately, after my underwhelming experience, I won’t be returning to PappaRich.

PappaRich on Urbanspoon

If you’ve read this review and thought differently, feel free to let me know within the comment section below. Alternatively, I’m always looking for recommendations for fantastic restaurants in Canberra. If you know of another Malaysian eatery that you prefer, I’d love to hear about it.

Leave a Reply