I grew up in Maylands. Loved it. Right near the river, a quick train ride to the city, all in all not a bad spot. I don’t live in Maylands any more, but in recent years it’s been so wonderful to see all the lovely little cafes and cute delis and bakeries pop up along Eighth Ave and the surrounds. What a popular spot it is! You’ve got all your cupcake needs sorted at Sherbet, a great spot for breakfast with Milkd or Mrs S or the Bakery on Eighth or these days a new addition to the dinner scene is Chapels on Whatley.
I’m told Chapels also does a great breakfast and when I headed over to urbanspoon to read up on other’s experiences there it was definitely weighted more towards morning visits. That was fine though, made it more mysterious and no preconceptions about how it would be. GG and I were headed there with my parents and my aunty W and uncle S. GG and I were very lucky and my uncle had agreed to being the MC at our reception in August, and he’s well experienced at the role so it was so lovely when he said yes. So we caught up with Uncle S to run through the upcoming evening before they jetted on on a trip to the states.
So that’s how we found ourselves in Maylands Saturday a week or so ago. We were the first to arrive and it wasn’t that full when we got there. Gave us the opportunity to take in the decor of Chapels. I liked it – would sort of describe it as old school Asian fusion. Had some bright art work on the walls, as well as some larger wood murals and different lamps and other nick nacks. Together it all worked really well, it felt warm and welcoming on the chilly evening. The only issue we had was the table. They are quite high underneath so it was a bit of a struggle for GG to get his long pins underneath. He managed though.
So we waited for the rest of our group to arrive, which didn’t take long and we started looking through the menu and deciding what to have. It’s not a byo place, but they have an interesting range of local wines on offer and several beers. One issue we had at this point was requesting some assistance on the menu. It’s basically split out into what we believed was smaller dishes and then larger mains. We were just hoping for some guidance as to whether the smaller dishes were designed to be shared and if so how many, and similarly for the mains, should we choose a few and share? What worked best? There were some language challenges with the young lad serving us, and while I couldn’t fault his efforts, he wasn’t quite able to field our questions, which did make it a little difficult to know the best approach to their menu, but we muddled through and by the end of the night we were all feeling comfortable.
We decided we would share three starters. First up was Fish Cake with Sweet Chilli Sauce ($9.95) our own fish cakes pan fried and delivered to you with our well crafted sweet chilli sauce. I’m only a relatively new fish fan and worried this would have quite a fishy taste, but it was actually quite mild…. overall the flavour was actually a little lacking, but the sweet chilli sauce on the side definitely perked up the experience.
Secondly I sampled one of the Pork Dumplings ($10.95) Render steam pork dumpling accompanied by our sesame paste, chilli bean and garlic, soy vinegar sauce. Everyone agreed that the sauce that came with this dish was just beautiful and similarly to the first plate, the sauce really improved the dish. Not that the dumplings by themselves weren’t nice, they were just more special with the sauce.
Everyone’s favourite starter was up next, the Kim Chi Mini Pancakes ($12.95) A Korean savoury pancake served with a sour salad consisting of carrot, Chinese cabbage, onion and dressed with rice wine vinegar. This was a really creative dish and all the flavours were so well balanced. I liked the crunchiness of the salad and I hadn’t tried kim chi before, but they had mentioned it in a Masterchef episode recently, so I was pleased to get to sample it. A great dish!
So with the starters done and dusted it was time for mains. We had decided we would each order our own mains. GG was well pleased with his order of Nonya fish fillet ($14.95) Pan-fried fish fillet with chilli, lemongrass and spices served with our own wasabi, chilli, lime sauce. We’d had quite a big lunch that day so I think he enjoyed that it was on the lighter side. I had a bite of this fish and it really was beautifully flavoured and while I had thought it looked a little oily, it really wasn’t.
Uncle S went for the Chicken Pad Thai ($15.95) Our take on one of Thailand’s national dishes with chicken, rice noodles, lemongrass and much more all prepared in a wok and served with lime and chilli. It appeared to be a decent sized serve and from all account was tasty. I can’t vouch for this one myself, but size wise I thought it looked good and full of plenty of fresh ingredients and spices.
My mum was the most bold with her selection I thought. She went with Treasure ($16.95) Better known as Tau Yew Bak but we call this amazing dish treasure because of the treasure trove of tastes with Pork, Quail egg , Tofy, Shitake mushrooms best served with steamed rice. I wasn’t sure what to expect with her dish, but again, can’t fault the size and I tried some of the pork and it was beautiful!! She was a happy camper with her meal and it went well with the serve of rice on the side. We were sort of sharing our meals around with others and there was a general conscensus that this was one tasty meal.
Aunty W ordered the Singapore Curry Chicken ($16.95) A tantalising chickem curry mild yet flavoursome cooked with coconut, lemongrass, ginger, garlic and more all blended traditionally mortar and pestal, best served with steamed rice. She hadn’t expected her chicken to be on the bone as it was, had thought it would be smaller pieces of chicken breast and admittedly if I had ordered that dish, that would have been my preference also. I didn’t try this dish, but as long as you were comfortable with your chook being on the bone then I don’t think you would have been disappointed with it.
After much deliberation my dad went with the Marinated Pork Pieces ($1695) Thinly sliced pork that has been marinated in bean curd annd sices then barbequed, served ith layered chilli beans. I didn’t get to try this one, but dad seemed happy with his choice and others who sampled some of the pork pieces also gave it the thumbs up.
So what did I have? Well I might have had a curry for lunch but I couldn’t go past the Beef Rendang ($16.95) Prime beef steak sautaed in coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, onion and Asian speces best served with steamed rice. I was plenty nervous about the heat factor when I saw all the sliced red chillis elegantly scatter a top my plate, but I dusted them to the side and launched into the big, beefy pieces. Wow, the flavour was incredibly lovely and the meat just melted in your mouth. No complaints from me on my selection!
Between us we also shared a Green Mango & Papaya Salad ($12.95) Papaya, mango and apple all blended with a spicey dressing and I think this was actually one of the big winners of the evening. It was wonderfully refreshing, especially since some of the mains had packed a little heat.
Now I was feeling more than a little comfortable after the starters and the main, so I did the unthinkable and passed on dessert – I know! Can you believe it! But folks around the table did partake, so here are a few pics of what they had…..
Banana Brulee ($12.95) A decadent creamy dessert, with banana brulee top with crisp burnt sugar and garnished with cream and fresh bananas
Chocolate Mousse and Cointreau ($12.95) Creamy chocolate mousse add a splash of Cointreau with a hint of coffee, top with cream and a strawberry and indulge!!
In all I hadn’t minded my first visit to Chapels. Company had been stellar and by and large the food had been well received and the prices really were very reasonable. Service could perhaps have been a little better, but it is a very pictureque little cafe and while I’m not sure that it would be my first choice of Asian fusion restaurants for dinner in future, I am keen to head back to such a pretty spot for breakie one day, or perhaps for their high tea.