Over the past couple of months I have been reviewing Malaysian restaurants all around Wellington for Malaysia Kitchen (full disclosure – I got refunded some of the costs). It’s time to share the reviews!

Today’s Malaysian quest takes us out of the CBD to Newtown, but luckily parking is easy at Newtown Mall and we can do the supermarket shopping afterwards. Kopi Tiam (195 Riddiford St) is an unassuming little place, but the food is surprisingly good.

My friend orders a laksa and is overwhelmed by the size of the bowl. It’s loaded with shredded chicken, tofu, egg, fishballs and crabstick. I steal a spoonful and discover the gravy is a good combination of coconut richness and curry flavour. She gets nowhere near the bottom of the bowl before she gives up, which means it’s excellent value for $9.50. The two of us probably could have shared the bowl for lunch, along with the roti, which in this case is served as a whole square and is nothing special.

But in order to try more things on the menu, I order the beef rendang. If we ignore the lettuce and carrot garnish – which I do – this is actually one of the best rendangs I’ve had in Wellington. It’s not as dry as is traditional, but it’s perfectly balanced. The meat falls apart at the touch of the fork, and the coconut is prominent. The portion size is generous for $12.50 as well.

We don’t need them at all, but we also order half a dozen wontons ($8) – for research purposes, obviously. They’re gloriously crisp, and the filling has a texture like the pork equivalent of a fish cake.

As well as serving Malaysian, Kopi Tiam has a whole ‘nother blackboard full of deep fried Western-style food and toasted sandwiches, so it could be a good compromise spot for a couple with different tastes. We notice it’s full of New World staff on their lunchbreaks, and there are plenty of magazines which makes it a good spot to eat in by yourself.