449 Elizabeth St, Melbourne CBD
Phone: 9329 6401
This place has been generating a lot of buzz for quite a while now, especially from my Malaysian and Singaporean friends. But its proximity to the Vic Markets means I’ll usually opt for a borek or bratwurst if I’m feeling like eating at the time. But I finally got past the convenience of hand-held food, and sat down for a lunch at Coconut House recently.
I was a little torn between the classic Hainanese Chicken Rice, and the BBQ pork, which I spied on a few people’s plates while waiting in line to order. Thankfully, Coconut House lets you hedge your bets, and have both! Along with a plentiful serving of chicken rice, and a bowl of broth (which, let’s be honest, is little more than MSG, but that’s what you should expect and actually be after, should you order an Hainanese Chicken Rice in this town).
The rice was a little on the dry side, but I guess that’s what the broth is for! The chicken itself was beautifully moist, and at that point where there’s still just the lightest hint of vibrant red blood in the drumstick bone. It’s pretty much the epitome of how far you should take a boiled/steamed chicken. The BBQ pork, however, was a bit of a let down. The texture suggested there had been some processing done to this pork; probably the addition of bi-carb in the marinade, a practice not uncommon in Chinese restaurants. While the flavour of the marinade was not bad – perhaps a tad too sweet – it lacked any real porcine flavour, which was a shame.
The star for me of this dish, however, was the smallest component. The sambal in the little dish was a beautifully balanced mix of bold acid and garlic elements, with a nice chilli kick, yet not at all challenging. Great for this dish, and I honestly could eat this sauce on its own with just rice!
I had a warm soya bean drink to wash the meal down. Which was nice, but nothing special.
If you can’t get a seat at Coconut House, which is always busy at lunch times, from what I’ve seen, you might try its sister shop, Little Coconut House, which interestingly is served by the same kitchen. Your meal comes in through the front door!