When I’m not committing bloggery, I have a day job to keep the bank happy and the kids fed. I work in the suburb of West Perth, about a 15 minute walk from the CBD. I’ve worked here for the last three and a half years. I’m therefore fairly familiar with all the local eating places (apart from the fancier restaurants of which there are a fair few).
Last Thursday, since the sun was out for the first time in ages, I decided to take a stroll to the newly opened PaPa Wok on Colin Street.
Asian cafes are common in this area and the quality of the food varies (as does the price) so it’s always good when a new place comes along. Keeps everyone else honest.
It's on Colin Street in West Perth
PaPa Wok is on the corner of Hay and Colin. Inside it is is clean and would be considered somewhat utilitarian if it wasn’t for the acid yellow paint on the walls. There are tables filling the central space and along one wall. There were a couple of people eating in and a couple waiting. The woman behind the counter hailed me with a hearty greeting and asked what I wanted.
There was a menu board and a specials board.
I came for the laksa...
...but stayed for the roti prata.
I had come for laksa, not only because it was a cold day where a hot and spicy laksa would go down a treat but also because of Laksa Thursday – a Twitter initiative which I have only just discovered and of which I completely approve.
However, there it was on the specials board: roti prata with chicken curry. Could. Not. Go. Past.
All dishes $9.90? Even better.
I placed my order and sat down to wait - fragrance tickling my nostrils and memories tickling my mind. When I was a kiddie, visiting relatives in Singapore, roti prata was the Sunday morning dish of choice. What happened was that on the way to church, you would stop off at the prata shop with your tiffin-carrier, hand it to the 'roti prata man' and head off to your devotions. By the time that mass was over, your tiffin-can would have been filled with curry gravy in some tins and with fluffy crispy roti prata in the others. As you weren’t allowed to eat before church (something about keeping your body ‘pure’ for taking communion), a decent breakfast was a necessary post-church requirement.
These days, I have no time whatsoever for religion.For roti prata, however, I have all the time in the world.
I didn’t have to wait long –though I did have to wait as everything is made fresh - a quick flick through an old copy of Spice magazine (farewell, Spice magazine, I will miss you!) and there was my lunch, delivered into my hand.
The woman was so sweet, thanking me for coming and hoping I would return. I ended up calling her ‘auntie’, the way we used to do in Singapore to show respect. I could hear my Singapore inflection creeping back in. Aiyah!
Back at the office, I went into the lunch-room and unwrapped my food. There was a good-size tub of kari ayam, deep orangey-red with chunks of potato and chicken therein. In a separate container, there were two roti prata.
They didn't cheat and use chicken on the bone - it was all meat.
Would have been better consumed on site - next time, I may eat in.
I ripped the prata apart with my fingers and dipped into the sauce. Ooh. Authentic. (So authentic, I felt like I’d just come out of church.) It was a tasty curry, neither too spicy nor too mild with the curry leaves still in and a vivid red layer of oil on top (this is a Good Thing in terms of authenticity if not in terms of health – it means that they left the chicken skin on the chicken). The meat was tender and there were no bones. There was potato –large chunks of it.
The roti was also the real deal – not super-shiny with oil but with enough of a glisten to make me feel that I was indulging. I suspect that if I had stayed and eaten them in the shop then they would have been crispier but as it was they had held their texture very well during the short walk back and they pulled apart in delicious soft layers.
I will be going back to PaPa Wok. The trick will be to avoid ordering the prata every time so I can get a chance to try the other goodies on the menu, all of which, I suspect, will have that genuine flavour. Will I ever get around to the laksa? Because one of my other favourites is kway teow and then there is the chicken rice and then there is the barbeque pork rice...
PaPa Wok - has a charm of its own (I know, I know, BAD pun...)