HOME AWAY FROM HOME
We always miss the food back home whenever we travel overseas. Yet local cuisine abroad has a reputation for being costly and substandard. While in Auckland, my cravings for hawker fare led me to the worst chicken rice ever. It cost me $15 – and I felt cheated.
Alas, a handful of eateries keep their cuisine authentic for those who’re most discerning, giving them a “home away from home” experience. PappaRich, a chain restaurant offering authentic Malaysian hawker fare, is one of an exemplary few. Combining the colorful hawker culture of Malaysia with the warmth and hospitality of her people, they’ve most recently clinched the Top Brand award in Influential Brands Asian Cafe category.
All of PappaRich’s outlets are furnished in a colonial fashion, but beneath its facade is a story seldom told. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr Sebastian Low, the CEO of Papparich, and here are the 10 things you’ve probably never knew about the brand.
MALAYSIA’S COLORFUL HERITAGE UNDER ONE ROOF
1. There’s a reason behind its westernised decor
PappaRich uses decor to marry Malaysia’s history with its food. Patterned Peranakan-style tiles, ivory lattices and dark meranti wood are trademarks of Malaysia’s colonial past and heavy British influence. These design elements are typical of the upmarket Malaysian restaurants in the 1930s and ‘40s that would only be frequented by the British expats and the rich upper class Malaysians.
When you visit, try and spot all 6 paintings PappaRich has created and showcases in each of its outlets! Each of the artwork depicts a father and son together to convey PappaRich’s core vision to be a multigenerational brand where families can come together and bond over a good meal.
2. They go to great lengths for the half-boiled eggs’ consistency
If you’re a fan of these, you’ll know the shattering feeling of cracking one open to realize that it’s a) translucent or b) three quarters cooked, but PappaRich means business when it comes to its signature half-boiled eggs. They’re so dedicated that their R&D department actually invented a special machine to cook and keep them in optimum conditions! Each of PappaRich’s outlets whether in Singapore or in its other locations like Taiwan, U.S. and Australia has this special machine so that every soft-boiled egg served, has the same consistency and quality
3. Hainanese bread – epitome of soft and pillowy
’ve always thought of the kopi and toast combo as a Singaporean signature, but plot twist – the recipe didn’t originate in Singapore. This staple was once exclusive luxuries for the angmohs during the colonial times, but after independence, the British recipe for fluffy white bread remained and thrived in Malaysia.
If you notice, PappaRich serves their bread steamed (Hainan Steamed Bread – $3.90) instead of toasted as it is freshly made, resulting in a remarkable pillow of dough a.k.a fluffiest bread I’ve ever had. Also noteworthy is the Kaya spread – fresh and fragrant but not available for retail because no preservatives are added.
4. Recipes are painstakingly sourced from all over Malaysia
PappaRich’s recipes aren’t invented in the laboratory, but on the streets of Penang and KL – the true purveyor of local flavors. The PappaRich R&D team frequently travel to all corners of Malaysia and camp out at famous hawker stalls, so that the team has a taste benchmark for their dishes. More often than not, some of these hawkers end up joining the PappaRich family.
The fried chicken thigh in the Super Rich Combo ($16.90), for instance, is the masterpiece of a former Nasi Padang chef who joined PappaRich 5 years ago. PappaRich’s menu is a testament to the team’s tireless trips, and foodie quests as well as hours spent taste testing and fine tuning their dishes.