Thursday, March 10, 2011

Coconut House

At first the recommendations were simply intriguing.  I must check it out next time I am in town, I thought.  Then they became somewhat spooky - week after week, people kept telling me to go there.  Posts appeared in Google Reader - Coconut House was the only word I saw, the letters seemingly rising from the computer screen, searing themselves into my brain.  Finally Bryan and I set a date, and the day we were to go, another friend said, "Let's go out for laksa - I hear there's a great place called coconut something..."  "Coconut house!" I cackled maniacally.  Seriously, if I was not already happily married, I think that I would have thrown myself into the arms of the cutest waiter I saw, gasping, "The universe has spoken - we are meant to be together!"

Coconut Hse Shanghai Makhbaz 067

Coconut House is a cheap and cheerful Malaysian eatery that has gotten a rousing thumbs up from food bloggers across Melbourne and after salivating about all Bryan's fabulous eating adventures in Malaysia, I was dying to check it out.

Coconut Hse Shanghai Makhbaz 068

It's cosy inside.  Ordering is done at the counter and the prices are pretty fab - almost everything under $10.  The kitchen is right there in the restaurant, behind the counter and you can see the cooks working as you place your order.  It looked a bit haphazard but I had faith.  Hey, the universe can't be wrong!?

Coconut Hse Shanghai Makhbaz 069
Har mee

Everyone loves laksa, me included but you can get a bit jerlak of it (Malay for "being sick of eating too much of the same thing" - such a great word!).  I was curious about har mee which is (to my untrained Malaysian palate) similar to laksa but without coconut milk.  I thought this was delicious - the special thing about har mee is the stock made from prawn shells and heads and this version had a fabulous shrimpy flavour.  A mixture of hokkien-style yellow noodles and bee hoon or rice vermicelli provided textural variation.  The prawns on top were perfect, half-cooked when the bowl was brought to us which means they could finish cooking in the hot stock and we could gobble them up at their most tender and juicy.  Wilted kang kong or water spinach added a very authentic touch.  Yummy!

Coconut Hse Shanghai Makhbaz 070
Hainanese chicken/BBQ chicken rice combo

My friend M went to Malaysia pretty much just to eat Hainanese chicken rice.  He told me about one amazing restaurant where he went, ordered and ate and then went back to the counter and ordered another plate of the exact same dish.  The staff were totally perplexed!  This is seriously amazing chicken rice.  The BBQ or "black" chicken had lovely dark glazed skin while the Hainanese chicken was incredibly delicate and juicy, scented with ginger.  The light sauce or dressing it sits in is just amazing, sweet, light yet rich.  The rice is very much a part of this dish, cooked in chicken stock with ginger and a little chicken fat.  The chilli sauce is another integral part and is light and somewhat thin - I think it is more like pureed red chilli than a commercial sauce.

Coconut Hse Shanghai Makhbaz 071
Soy milk, both cold and hot

I can't wait to go back to try more Malaysian goodies but the first thing I will always order is the homemade soy milk.  I had the chilled version and it is totally divine.  It's much thinner than commercial soy milk and actually tastes like tofu, a sweet liquid silken version.  So refreshing yet so healthful.  Apparently it is freshly made daily, is 100% natural and from Australian-grown beans which means no GM.

Coconut Hse Shanghai Makhbaz 073

Cendol is a kind of dessert/drink - Bryan was surprised this was served in a glass as he has normally seen it in a bowl.  Little green worm-like mini noodles bobbed amongst tiny jelly cubes and ice in a long, cold glass of coconut milk.  All of this levitated above a dark and mysterious layer of gula melaka or palm sugar syrup.  I can't get into the bubble tea thing of sucking solid things up a straw but I loved the coconut milk - so simple, so cool and creamy.  The little bits and pieces were fun to eat with a spoon.

So what was the universe trying to tell me?  It may be a bit rough around the edges but Coconut House has great grub.  I think the message was just as simple as that.

Coconut House on Urbanspoon

Coconut House
449 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne (map)
Phone:  9329 6401

Wheelchair Access


  1. You finally made it! I haven't had the har mee there yet, but will certainly try it next time I'm there. I had a pretty awesome one in Penang - I wonder how this one stacks up? They also do har mee at Wok Noodle in Seddon, but the day I was there, Noel (the proprietor) suggested I choose something else, because he wasn't happy with the broth that day. There's some caring quality control for you!

  2. What a shame I couldn't make it. Looks Delisho!!!

  3. har mee is actually prawn mee in literal translation.But the food looks good!!

  4. NOt been back for awhile... I like the wonton mee!

  5. Many years ago there were many great Malaysian eateries/hawker outlets hidden around Melbourne, but they seemed to loose popularity and disappear. This made me very sad.

    Fortunately there seems to be a bit of a Malaysian/Singaporean Hawker renaissance going on in inner Melbourne at the moment. For example, the increased activity in our nearby Newmarket, North and West Melbourne is very welcome. Getting a local Laksa fix is becoming easier, but I still haven't found an outstanding example.

    I just wish some of them would grunge it up a bit...seems to be a lot of focus on the restaurant fit out. Its got its place, but sometimes they feel a little contrived for hawker food.

  6. Hahaha i think the waiter you may have seen is my class mate from cookery school :) I know that he works there, and is very cute indeed. A good chance it was him :)

    Been dying to go here too but just seem to be procrastinating :)

  7. Ahaha the post is out finally!

    We wanted to try out the Wonton noodles there, but they were sold out. :( I heard the King pork noodles is good there. Next time next time. :D

  8. delicious Lauren... I'm hoping to come down to melb for work in the next few months and will be using your blog as my guide!

  9. ah coconut house. Yes, I totally dig the Hainanese chicken/BBQ chicken rice combo! So good and very cheap.

    Yes, I am obsessed with bubble cup and things in my drink (grass jelly, pearl, mini pearl etc) being sucked up a thick straw..I dunno why...LOL

  10. That's it, I'm going there to check out this cute waiter. And the Hainanese chicken rice, I guess.

  11. Lauren, my mum makes real soy milk weekly. Its really simple! First you need to soak dry soy beans at least overnight, then throw them into a very good blender with water (about 2 tablespoon of soaked beans to 1 cup of water, depending how thick you want it). Then you need to pass the mixture through a very fine muslin clothe or clean handkercheif, discard the pulp. Finally bring the milk to just under boiling point, add sugar, then cool. Theres actually a soymilk machine that does this, but i've only seen it in china.

  12. Laura, wow! That sounds fabulous! So you don't cook the beans, just soak them? Sounds actually quite easy!

  13. Cendol is probably adopted from Che Ba Mau - Vietnames sweet soup dessert. Some of the dishes look great!

  14. ooh! happy to see a review on this place. i pass it all the time but haven't ventured in. i might just have to go for that cendol. looks lovely.


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