Amah at Chatswood : a food foray across the bridge.
Just across the bridge at the Chatswood Interchange hub from where Sydney trains speed in and out, is Amah, an outpost of the Ho Jiak dining group which has locations in Haymarket, at Townhall in the CBD and in Strathfield. Amah at the Interchange in 'Chatty' has a culinary heavyweight at the pans in the form of youthful Hun Loong who comes most recently from being head chef at swish Mr. Wong's in the CBD.
Image by Lorrie Graham : chef Hun Loong
At Amah though, chef Loong returns with nostalgia to his Malaysian place of birth. Cooking classics he fondly remembers from his grandmother's (amah) kitchen, these dishes are more family favourites than common restaurant mainstays. When ordering, take the advice of efficient waitstaff: they'll fill you in on the backstories of some of the delicacies on offer. Eating at Amah is like accompanying a Malaysian friend to their home for a meal where you'd partake of that family's long treasured family dishes.
We started with Hun Loong's renown fish ball soup. In a delicate clear broth laced with Asian green tendrils, the showstopper is the fishball and fish sausage slices- hand made from fresh spanish mackerel, ever so light and fluffy. It makes for a light start to lunch.
Next to arrive at our table is the dry wonton noodles with prawn dumplings in soup and house made special black char siew. Springy, chewy noodles infused with soy and all the other secret ingredients which make up this favourite, accompany the plump and juicy dumplings and soup. The generous char siew slices are charred perfectly, and sweetly succulent.
Lorrie is doing what she does best: taking lots of brilliant pictures (check her blog for more on Amah); and while we eat, Tina, floor manger extraordinaire comes by to check on our orders and to recommend various options.
Even busy chef Loong comes by for a catch up. His approach to this new venture is commendable: contemplative and philosophical about the curveballs they've been thrown with Covid lockdowns, Loong is also quietly ambitious and forecasts a turning of tides with diners enthusiastic to be out and about again.
The fried tofu with crabmeat gravy and peas is a dish only your grandmother could conjure up. Lorrie describes it as 'comforting' and I think she hit the nail on the head. Light-as-a-feather cubes of fried tofu enveloped in a thick and delicious crab sauce and dotted with peas: a perfect and harmonious blending of light flavours and textures. Delicious.
We finish with little cups of ice kacang: shaved ice and cubed grass jelly, rose syrup and black beans- Malaysia's version of an ice-cream sundae but with an ice granita instead of the ice cream.
Of course also on the menu are all the classic Malaysian favourites like chicken and wagyu beef satay and char koay teow. Familiar favourites are transformed into grandma's special versions like the ikan panggang or grilled fish. Deep sea Patagonian tooth fish is marinated and served with Amah's signature spicy sambal.
Image supplied by Amah : Ikan panggang
The Chatswood interchange is a short train ride from the city, and if you're driving, there's ample street parking. The area is also surrounded by parking decks open long hours.
Amah by Ho Jiak is no ordinary Malaysian: experience the delights of grandma's cooking as produced by her highly skilled grandson at the Chatswood Interchange.
Amah by Ho Jiak
436 Victoria Avenue
Chatswood, Sydney 2067
Ph: (02) 91704714