We’re not sure how Ngopi Cafe slipped under our radar (maybe because it closes at 8 and is closed on weekends?) but its name came up at a recent Metro Cheap Eats judging meeting from someone who eats an obscene amount of Malaysian, so we thought we had better check it out. It’s an unusual space – cavernous and homely at the same time – but with lots of light and fun touches. Stylier and more modern than your average Cheap Eats, for sure.
We ordered a Char Koay Teow ($12.50), Hainan Chicken Rice ($12.50) and Nasi Lemak Chicken Curry ($14) to share and all were the perfect tonic for a cold Auckland night.
The Hainan Chicken Rice was perfectly poached and so so tender – while eating it I wanted Ngopi to be just down the road from my house as I would eat this every time I didn’t feel like cooking. It was comforting and gentle like a warm blanket. Perfect simplicity.
The Char Koay Teow was great too with prawns, squid, Chinese sausage, bean sprouts and chives fried in with the thick rice noodles and distinct chilli/soy/fish sauce aromas. If I was being super picky, I might say it could have been a touch smokier but it was thoroughly tasty and we destroyed it in a short space of time.
The Nasi Lemak was well executed with the right amounts of coconut rice, ikan bilis, peanuts, cucumber, sambal and boiled egg. The coconut rice was good and creamy, always a good sign. The curry on the side was just as I like it – on the bone, tender and spicy enough to have a kick but still with that home cooked quality.
The service was friendly and efficient and even more impressive knowing the staff were all volunteers. And that’s best thing about this lovely place – it’s a not for profit cafe to raise funds to do good in the world and profits are distributed between Habitat For Humanity (www.habitat.org.nz) and The A21 Campaign (www.thea21campaign.org). I’m pretty sure that’s what makes the food extra tasty; love and good will makes it through to the cooking and adds something no ingredient of cooking technique ever can.