Coconut House

Posted on September 6, 2011

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Coconut House (449 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne VIC) is the type of place that makes me miss being a student, because this is just the sort of place I would have loved to frequent as a student. As a matter of fact, its prototypical clientele is a young student. And why not? It ticks all the boxes for them, it’s closer to RMIT and Melbourne Uni than restaurants in the city centre, it’s cheap, it’s fast and it’s tasty. Unfortunately, with my uni days well and truly behind me, I actually feel slightly awkward in places like this now. I think it’s because they can tell that I don’t quite fit in. I need to look at the menu to order and frankly, I just don’t carry the same care free attitude that is commonly found amongst students.

But let’s get back on topic; Coconut House is styled as a Malaysian hawker stall and is popular enough to have a Coconut House 2 (441 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne VIC) just a couple of doors down. Everything still comes from the one kitchen, so it really doesn’t matter which one you visit except that you get table service at the original one and it’s order and pay at the counter at the latter. We ate at Coconut House 2 which had a nice street vibe created by the exposed blue stone wall, iron awning and faux street lamps.

Meals are all priced under $10 with the typical Malaysian-Chinese offerings of noodle soups, curries and rice dishes. Regular and observant readers might remember that I’m rather fond of the drop rice noodle, so of course I went for the curry soup version of this ($9.80). It’s the best way to have them according to their menu and the first time I’d seen or tried them like this. Tasty mince, bbq pork, bean shoots, soft poached egg added to the flavour mix in the coconutty soup. It wasn’t bad, but the curry was not as flavoursome as I would have liked; bit too much coconut and consequently, the true flavours of the spices were compromised somewhat.

The combination crispy noodle in soup ($8.80 I think) was generous with lots of mince, bbq pork, fish cake and meatballs. The noodles weren’t actually crisp given they’re in soup but were otherwise quite nice. Again, this rates as pretty average in my books. There wasn’t anything to really fault them on, it’s just a matter of comparison and there are tastier noodle soups on the market.

Coconut House has a pretty strong contingent of fans, so I expected a bit more than what was experienced. In no way did the dishes sampled stand out over other cheap Malaysian diners that can be found in the city. But while I’m not entirely convinced of the quality of their dishes yet, I am willing to give them another go. They claim to have a top rate chicken rice, so much so that they’ve included ‘chicken rice’ in their signage as their headline dish! Trust me to only realise this after we’d finish dinner. Doh. Well that dish could well change my mind about them.

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