8.5 | 2 | 1.5 | 2.5
- One of the best Singaporean restaurants in Sydney
- The variety of good dishes on the menu makes for an epic feast
- Typical patchy Asian service, though it gets better if you’re a regular
- Recent price increases
- Chicken Laksa (Egg Noodles)
- Nasi Goreng
- Spring Rolls
TL;DR – Temasek is one of the best Singaporean restaurants in Sydney, and the place to get the some of the best Laksa and Hainanese Chicken. Despite the occasional patchy service, Temasek remains the place to go to for an epic feast.
We live in the Golden Age of Gastrotravel. The same people who once travelled to Asia to take photos of temples now go to slurp soup dumplings and filter bowls of noodles onto Instagram.
But no one talks about the dark side of Gastrotravel. No one tells you that it can ruin you.
Japan has ruined sushi, America has ruined burgers, Hong Kong has ruined milk teas. One by one, my favourite restaurants in Sydney bit the dust, on this relentless global pursuit of food perfection.
So with much trepidation, I booked my flight for Singapore. And on the eight hour flight, several thoughts ran through my head. Was I ready to lose yet another one of my favourite restaurants in Sydney? Was I prepared to never be able to eat Hainanese Chicken, Laksa and Chilli Crab ever again? Was it better to live in blissful ignorance, to have loved and lost or not loved at all?
These thoughts soon faded as post flight hunger took over. And as we sampled the best that Singapore had to offer, we were surprised to find that the food in Sydney at Temasek was as good if not better than its Singaporean counterparts. I realised how blessed we were to live in such a multicultural city; Sydney may not have the best food in the world, but the sheer diversity and quality of ethnic cuisines is why Sydney is known to be one of the best food cities in the world.
So my advice for anyone looking for some of the best and most authentic Singaporean food? Save yourself the flight and head to Temasek. For the price of the plane ticket, you could have 10 epic feasts at Temasek, without the crazy Singaporean heat.
71 George St, Parramatta NSW (map)
+61 2 9633 9926
Having had most of the menu, I’ll stick to my favourites and my recommendations to keep this post from becoming an encyclopaedia for Singaporean food. If a menu item is not featured in my review below, it likely means I’ve had it and don’t recommend it.
Spring Rolls – $8 (8.5/10)
“You have to try these.”
“Why? What’s so special about them?”
“So you really like them?”
“No…it’s just ..incredibly meaty”
This 5 line dialogue pretty much sums up how I would describe these Springs Rolls to anyone who hasn’t tried them before. In a world where spring rolls are filled with miscellaneous vegetables and air, these spring rolls are a refreshing change. But even “incredibly meaty” is an understatement. These are ALL meat. No vegetables. No air.
I wasn’t kidding. 100% meat.
But having eaten these spring rolls for eight years, I still cannot decide if I like them or not. It’s just so different to any other spring roll I’ve ever had to compare. On the one hand, who doesn’t love meat. On the other hand, since it’s all meat, there is little flavour contrast beyond the sweet and sour sauce.
Either way, these are a definite must order due to its uniqueness. After all, everyone I’ve introduced these to have loved them.
Hainanese Chicken (Half) – $21 (8/10)
The Hainanese Chicken is probably the one dish that differs most from Singapore, but that’s largely because the chicken in Asia is just better than the chicken in Australia.
Hainanese chicken in Singapore is impossibly tender, impossibly silky smooth. It’s texture is closer to that of jelly than chicken.
All this is not to say that the Hainanese chicken at Temasek is bad. On the contrary, Temasek does the best with what it has by producing some of the best Hainanese chicken in Sydney. Yes the chicken may be a bit better at the now closed Singapore Shiok, and the rice may be better at Istana in Thornleigh, but if we’re talking about the combination of chicken and rice, no one would argue if you stated Temasek had one of the best.
Laksa Singapura with Chicken – $17.80 (8.75/10)
Broadsheet says this is the best Laksa in Sydney. I don’t always agree with Broadsheet, but when I do, it’s on Laksa. This is the best Laksa in Sydney. Better than Malay Chinese Takeaway. Better than Jimmy’s Recipe.
The biggest crime when it comes to Laksa is skimping out on the spices and the coconut milk. While Malay Chinese Takeaway nails the spice, I think a bit more creaminess through coconut milk would go a long way. Temasek nails both fronts.
So how does this compare to the best Laksa in Singapore? Well it’s a bit different, not to say Temasek is worse. Traditional Singaporean laksa is only served with prawn. Singapore locals would gasp when see laksa with chicken, beef and sometimes in Sydney, even wontons! The other major difference is the consistency of the soup. The consistency of traditional laksa is in between the creaminess of Temasek and the more watery spiciness of Malay Chinese Takeaway.
Best Laksa in Sydney vs best Laksa in Singapore? Both are equally good, my choice would largely be dependent on what I was craving.
Tip – You can choose to have your Laksa with rice noodles (traditional), egg noodles (similar to Hokkien noodles) or mixed. Personally I prefer egg noodles as I find that they absorb more of the Laksa soup. Mixed noodles provide an interesting contrast of textures with every bite. Feel free to experiment to find your own preference
Nasi Goreng – $16.80 (9/10)
Like the spring rolls, this is unlike any Nasi Goreng you will ever have. There is no such thing as a “traditional” nasi goreng, as nasi goreng literally translates to fried rice. Having had many fried rices and nasi gorengs in my life, almost all fried rices are underwhelming in flavour and ingredients.
The best Nasi Goreng.
Temasek’s Nasi Goreng, on the other hand, is full of flavour and topped with a generous amount of chicken (the same chicken they use in their hainanese chicken) and prawns.
Tip – Customise your Nasi Goreng to your desired level of spiciness.
Singapore Chilli King Prawns – $23.80 (8/10)
Temasek offers Singapore Chilli Crab if you book in advance, but for those who spontaneously feel like Singapore Chilli, you can order the Singapore Chilli Prawns, which comes in the same sauce but with peeled prawns.
If there was one dish that was closest to its Singaporean equivalent, this would probably be it. The Singapore chilli sauce, made with tomato, was virtually like for like for its Singapore counterpart. The sweetness of the seafood with the spiciness of the chilli and tanginess of the tomato makes for an irresistible and classic combination.
For those who haven’t had Singapore chilli crab before, the best way to picture it is crab in a spicy, sweet and savoury tomato sauce. Despite its name, chilli crab is not a very spicy dish. Temasek has one of the best Singapore chilli crabs in Sydney, so if you were to try it anywhere, try it here.
Beef Rendang with Coconut Rice – $21.80 (7.5/10)
Beef Rendang (essentially a curry), as well as the Nasi Lemak, are worth ordering.
Tip – Rotis aren’t that great here so when you have the Beef Rendang, you must order it with Coconut Rice. The first time I had the Rendang I thought it was good but nothing special, but I when I re-tried it with Coconut Rice it changed the taste completely. The taste of Coconut is subtle, but it just works and smooths out the Rendang. At an extra cost of $1.50, it’s a no brainer.
Chicken Satay Skewers – $16.80 (6/10)
Temasek’s Chicken Satay used to be better a few years ago, but in its current form, it’s still worth trying if you’re craving Satay. It lacks flavour and smokiness from its authentic street counterparts, but makes up for it with meatiness and juiciness.
Iced Lemon Tea – $3.50
Due to Singapore’s proximity to the equator and resulting heat, Singaporean food is all about maximum flavour to increase appetite. Eating all this flavour means you will likely need a beverage to wash it all down. You could also go for the ever reliable Coconut Juice but for something different, look no further than the Iced Lemon Tea. Singaporean and Malaysian food punches you in the face with flavour, and their Teas are no different. Super bitter and astringent, contrasted with super acidic from the lemon. Super refreshing.
So fellow foodies, what is your favourite Singaporean restaurant in Sydney?