Su Wei and I met up at QVB around 6pm then walked to the the restaurant together. Chinta Ria doesn't take dinner bookings so we were there when they had just opened to avoid the queue often seen outside the restaurant most evenings. The light scent of sandalwood incense beckons you to enter through the large wooden doors into the restaurant where you are then greeted by a huge Laughing Buddha. Coloured chairs stood out next to dark wood tables and the table was set with equally bright-coloured bowls and chopsticks on the side. The interior was cleverly decorated with ornaments and artwork from the various ethnic groups in Malaysia. "It's really cool," said Su Wei, and I nodded in agreement. I had been wondering why the restaurant was also called "The Temple of Love" - the architecture of the building does remind me somewhat of a Chinese temple (even more so with the smell of incense and the Buddha statue) but what signifies 'love'? Love for the food? If that is the case, we are at the right place then!
Su Wei ordered the Roti Kari (roti with chicken curry) while I ordered the Curry Laksa (fine strands of vermicelli and soft Hokkien noodles, tossed with fried bean curd puff, slices of fish cake, chicken and sugar snap peas in a piquant spicy coconut curry soup) as our mains to share. I cannot believe this - Su Wei was already asking for the dessert menu before our mains were served! "I like the banana roti dessert," she said enthusiastically. Okay...that isn't really a Malaysian dessert, my dear. In fact, it's not easy to find a mamak stall in Malaysia that sells banana roti (better known as roti pisang in Malay) and even if you do, the roti is served with curry, not vanilla ice-cream. Sorry to disappoint but you are probably more likely to find banana roti served as a dessert in Western countries, like at Mamak in Haymarket.
|Entrance into Chinta Ria - The Temple of Love|
|Multiracial ornaments and the huge Laughing Buddha|
"Huh, is THAT it?" I said to Su Wei when the roti dish arrived, eyes wide in amazement - it was a piece of roti and a small bowl of dipping sauce (was there even chicken in there?). This wasn't what I expected for $17. Jeez, that's daylight robbery! We could have the same dish 50 times in Malaysia!! Not impressed...My curry laksa turned up shortly and it was a surprisingly huge serving. We were about to finish off the last of the roti and move on to the laksa when the waiter came hurriedly to our table, apologising profusely for their mistake - it turned out they had served us an entrée version of the roti dish instead of the main we ordered. "We can replace it straightaway," gushed the waiter. Us girls looked at each other, then at the laksa - we obviously read each other's minds. There was no way we could fit the laksa AND another roti main so we opted for the bill to be corrected instead. Plus Su Wei was still keen to have dessert - we need to leave some room! Both the roti and laksa were alright but not wow. Mamak remains the best place for roti in town in my books and I have not found THE laksa place yet.
|Curry Laksa ($17) and Roti ($4.90)|
Unfortunately for Su Wei, Chinta Ria doesn't have banana roti in their dessert menu so we settled for their pineapple fritters served with syrup and coconut ice-cream - mmm, the coconut ice-cream is quite nice and very creamy :)
|Su Wei giving the thumbs up for the pineapple fritters with |
syrup and coconut ice-cream
Considering the location, I would say the price is about right (cost us about $34 all up - we didn't use the Entertainment Book voucher in the end as it would only give us a very small discount) and the service was quite good, despite the mix-up. The restaurant was fully seated by the time we left around 7.30pm. Some of the patrons braved the cold and went for outdoor seating rather than join in the queue that was beginning to build up at the entrance. Will definitely have to come back with Jono another day to try their interesting-looking specials (I had a peek at what other people had on our way out) and experience 'the temple' himself.