Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hawker fare at MiHUB Cafe

As I tugged on my uggs, I was waiting for that call.  As the wind howled outside, I was waiting for that ding.  I had invited six fearless foodies to join me at an outdoor "hawker centre" on the windiest, most bone-chilling Friday night of the year.  It is a testament to everyone's total devotion to the tum that not a single person piked!


MiHUB in Werribee has been on my radar for some time but it was a tip from reader Sukie that pushed it to the front of the queue.  She wrote telling me of "an outdoor Malaysian hawker centre...  We went for the 1st time last night and thought I was back in Asia from that first whiff of the air. Satay skewers, nasi lemak, mee rebus, char kwe tiaw, little Malay cakes".

Now, if that does not make you excited - you need to check for a pulse!

So that's how I found myself tearing down the highway, dressed in so many clothes that Bryan called me a ketupat (wrapped rice cake thingy), which I think is Singaporean for "you look like the Michelin Man". :-P


According to the Star, Werribee's Migrant Hub was started by Walter Villagonzolo, a migrant from the Philippines.  Its front yard houses the MiHUB Cafe, a social enterprise for new migrants.  Since January the Malaysian community has been at the helm, offering hawker-style food at low, low prices.


The way it works is you nab a plastic table and then go and see what takes your fancy.  I had rallied Daniel and M, Bryan and Fatbee, and Jo and The Angmoh to stage a full-scale assault on the menu.  When we got there, we all ran around like schoolkids, squealing and pointing at everything.


I really liked the satay ($10) - chicken or lamb, with really good satay sauce.  The idea is that in between bites of juicy meat, you stab bits of cucumber and compressed rice cake with your skewer and swizzle them in the sauce.  Now, if only they could invent spoon-shaped cucumbers...


Lontong was awesome - a light, coconutty broth with hardboiled eggs, spongy tofu and more compressed rice cake.  It was lukewarm, which we felt might have been authentic given the usually tropical clime in Malaysia.  The temperature didn't translate as well to a windy night in Werribee, but the flavour was all there.


I LOVED the char kway teow, with proper smoky breath of the wok, really springy prawns and fantastic wide rice noodles.  It's cooked on a gas-powered wok right under the marquee.  And...only eight bucks!  This is the thing I'd go all the way back for.


Mee rebus was a new one for me, with a thick, sweet sauce and Hokkien-style noodles.  I found the sauce too sweet but Daniel reported that's how it's meant to be.


Quite liked this curry with roti jala.  I've also had these lacy pancakes at Chilli Padi in Flemington 100 years ago, where I liked them better - I found MiHUB's a bit plain, with no crispy bits.


Otak otak or spiced fish mousse in banana leaf were pretty good (three for $5).  You unroll them and eat the little sausage-like delight inside.


As this bowl of laksa was passed around, anyone looking above shoulder height only would have thought it was a competition about who can do the best grimace.  It was very peculiar, tasting strongly of curry powder rather than the classic laksa paste-y flavours of fresh lemongrass and chilli.  Give this one a miss and try something more exotic!


The murtabak got a big tick from me.  This is essentially a stuffed roti, panfried on both sides to get nice and crispy.  Most times I've had it, it was just a bit nothing, but this was spicy, warm and delicious.  (I can't recall the filling but I think it was lamb and spicy potato.)  Oh and re the prices, I didn't write any down (too hard when trying to stuff food in mouth at top speed), but most things are eight dollars.  YES.  EIGHT DOLLARS.


Teh tarik was the perfect thing to warm up our claw-like fingers...


...and although it didn't have that super-authentic teh tarik tannic taste, it was hot, frothy and good.  (The bubbles come from the milky tea being poured from jug to jug from a great height, aerating it.)


Finally, we raided the dessert selection.  A lot of these sweets suffered from being served in the frigid conditions - they would have been a lot softer and more delicate in 30-degree heat, rather than 10.  The best was the yellow fellow in the middle, which had a layer of durian-flavoured custard over some kind of sticky rice.

Super-sleuth reader Sukie reported that the best times to go are Friday night and Sunday brunch.  (Maybe do proceed with caution though in terms of Sundays for the rest of Ramadan, as many observant Muslims will be fasting during daylight hours, so the cafe's hours or offerings could be limited.  Just me speculating but it might save you a fruitless trip!  Give them a call on the number below perhaps to check.)  Do get in quick as there's no telling when the space will rotate to another community group.


In the end, the wind got so fierce we had to leave, so worried we were that our marquee was about to take off Wizard of Oz-style and whisk us away to Penang.

Actually, now that I think about it - and the problem with that was...?

Mihub Cafe on Urbanspoon

PS:  You can also check out Bryan's wrap of the night right here!

MiHUB Cafe
12 Synnot Street, Werribee
Phone: 9731 7877

1 comment:

  1. That was such an utterly utterly fun and surreal night of dining out in the freezing cold! Thanks again for asking us out to this adventure. =D


I love getting your comments! They're what make blogging worthwhile. Unfortunately, the amount of spam I get is obscene and it is so tiresome to have to moderate every comment, so I have had to turn on annoying word verification. I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but please know how much I love you having your say!

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Related Posts with Thumbnails