Monday, January 2, 2012

Ria Malaysian - Leederville

I was hungover, but pretending to be perky and upbeat. I had spent the entire afternoon handing out brochures and menus at the Beaufort St Festival, and was totally knackered and over being super nice and friendly. I didn't want to cook. I didn't want to face a mess in the kitchen. Thats it! Were going out for dinner! NOW! I was starving. I hadn't eaten since 10am.

I didn't know what I wanted to eat so S took  me to Ria Authentic Malaysian in Leederville, because its one of the only places there that we hadn't been to yet. Their doors were open, their tables were mostly set, but we couldn't go in because they didn't open for another 10 minutes. All I wanted to do, was sit and drink some water. 10 minutes and one short session of sitting on the pavement later, we were allowed in. We ordered quickly, having the Pork Rib Nibbles for a starter. How can you not order it with a name like that?! 

These were pretty tasty, sticky bbq-y tasted just like they should, and the dipping sauce was nice - but I felt the size of the dish was on the small side, considering its $16.50. I also felt they didn't have loads of meat on them - now I know that a rib is a bone and that will constitute some part of the nibbles. However I felt that there was alot more bone than meat, and I've had really meat ribs before, but these ones weren't that meaty. Again, for $16.50 I thought we'd get more meat on the bone. I guess they weren't joking when they said they were nibbles!

For mains, S ordered the beef vindaloo (which is Portuguese in origin according to the menu), and I ordered Mums Loh Ak, braised caramalised duck, which had come recommended to me by a chef friend of mine who knows one of the Ria chefs. We also ordered Nasi Kunyit to share (yellow rice spiced with turmeric, star anise and cloves).  S asked the waitress what did "Portuguese in origin" mean in regards to a vindaloo. He orders the vindaloo ALL the time, so knows what he likes, and is well versed in the Indian version, but was curious about the Portuguese style of vindaloo. Our waitress couldn't tell us, and asked uncertainly if we'd like her to check with the chef - we said yes, and off she went. She came back and said they used Portuguese spices rather than Indian ones. Right, so were none the wiser on that front! 

However the lovely Yvonne of Red Hot Spatula Catering (@RHSpatula on Twitter!) has read the blog and has been able to clear up what a "Portuguese Vindaloo" actually means! She is a wealth of knowledge on Asian food and is often my go to person when I have questions!

"There is a big portuguese influence in Malaysian and Singaporean curries thanks to the hordes that migrated decades ago. The curries are now Portuguese influence or Eurasian Influenced (which is my heritage). So in some restaurants they will have vindaloos with beef (as Indian ones can't be done with beef) or other curries like Devil Curry, Prawn and Pineapple Curry etc..... which is all part of the Portugues OR Eurasian culture derived from Malaysia and Singapore.

Vindaloo in India is done with Lamb (as hindus can't eat beef). Vindaloo in Malaysia and Singapore are generally served using beef as the main protein and sometimes pork (more so in Singapore as pork won't be so popular in Malaysia due to the Muslim differences). From my taste comparisons Malaysian Vindaloo has a stronger vinegar taste to it, but that may be just the recipe. I personally would say that the main differences are the proteins used with a mild spice difference. Google Eurasian Vindaloo or Malaysian Vindaloo and it'll pop up predominantly beef and pork recipes while Indian Vindaloo pops up with Lamb."

This conversation has continued on Twitter with Jesse (@good_drop also has a great wine blog Good Drop), who is a self confessed curry nerd, telling me that Vindaloos originated in the Indian state of Goa, as it was colonised by the Portuguese and it was a variation on a dish made with pork, red wine vinegar and garlic. The Indians used pork, coconut vinegar, garlic and Kashmiri chillies. He speculates that it was usually made with fairly mild Kashmiri chillies, but when taken out of India, these chillies weren't as easily available and so regular HOT chillies were used instead, which is where it gets it's searing heat from. Interestingly, Goa is one of the only places in India that use pork! 

Thanks to all those who have been able to answer this question for me! I've learned so much since posting this!

S enjoyed his vindaloo, but mentioned that if we came back, he wouldn't order it again. There are plenty of places he said did a better one, and he'd try something else next time. In saying that, he finished it, and it was nice enough! I didn't taste it, so I cant comment personally on what it was like - that's something for you to judge for yourself!

My duck was nice, but not amazing. Like S, if I went back again I would order something else. It was very sticky and the flavour was dominated by spices, the sauce, thick and syrupy. I did enjoy it, maybe it just wasn't what I expected or felt like, I'm not sure, but it wasn't rave worthy. Not unpleasant, or untasty, or anything like that. It just didn't win me over.

The rice tasted how you expect it to taste, spiced, with a sweet bite of raisin every now and again. It was good to soak up the sauce from the vindaloo but I didn't really have much sauce, so mopping up of sauce wasn't happening on my side of the table! Was good rice, but Ive not often had a rice dish that wows me...

Overall, despite the fact we weren't wowed by Ria, I would go back. Alot of people have said good things about them, they are always  booked out, and I think I should try something that I would normally order so it could make a more accurate impression upon me. 

Other noteworthy blogs who have come here are; 

Juji Chews (what she ordered was far more to my liking!)
Foodie Cravings (seemed to have a similar experience to ours!)
Hold the Beef (ordered similar to us so worth comparing!) 

Ria Authentic Malaysian Food on Urbanspoon


  1. Hi, offering some comments about Goa and vindaloo...

    I'm a little familiar with vindaloo and its origins as my folks were from Goa. Vindaloo originated with the Goan Christians in Goa which was under the Portuguese for approx 400 yrs till the 1950's.
    Naturally those who decided to migrate to Portugal (or anywhere else) took their Goan cuisine with them, those in Goa carried on with their lifestyle and cuisine. The Goan hindus were mainly vegetarian; the Goan Christian community ate all kinds of meat including pork and beef and their cuisine is delicious and unique. Vindaloo as I know it is usually a pork preparation which when made well is delicious but eye wateringly hot. I only ever eat a tiny bit of it.

    After eating Indian food in England, Singapore etc it's interesting how much they vary in taste from the original. The various Indian recipes ending up in Singapore and Malaysia with Indian origins have slowly changed over the years to a slightly different version even if called by the original name but some of the spices are still identifiable. I enjoy any version which is made well and keeps some authenticity.

    Perth hasn't always offered that authenticity as most people here do not seem to be well informed about food and will accept anything called a curry. Perhaps that's changing....

    1. I agree, Perth curries are not amazing, and people seem to gauge their opinions on a good curry house by the quality of their butter chicken or korma... I have stopped trying to find something authentic really and just focus on curries that taste good. Really, thats what food is about isn't it?!

      Thanks for all the information though, this post has actually generated a lot of discussion about the origins of the vindaloo and I've learned a lot! I've also learned that the big thing with a vindaloo is the inclusion of vinegar, and while they are hot they are not necessarily as hot as they have become. I enjoy them a lot however would much prefer them not TOO hot!