Many of Sydney’s purpose-built foodie precincts fall flat for me; however Spice Alley on Kensington Street is one notable exception. I put it down to being so well designed it actually feels Asian, like a genuine hawker market would. By using the backyards of 1840s terrace houses, the environment is intimate and well protected from wind, making it an option even in winter.
After snacks and drinks at Monkey Magic, we still felt hungry for something filling and cheap. Our attention was captured by the Singaporean eatery, Alex Lee Kitchen.
Alex Lee has cooked in Singapore and Sydney, heading up popular Singaporean restaurant Ginger & Spice in Neutral Bay, and Temasek out in Parramatta. For his Spice Alley outlet, Lee has put together a menu of snacks, noodles, roti with curry and sweets, and rice dishes.
We opt for the latter in the form of Nasi Lemak with Beef Rendang ($14). A mound of well-separated coconut rice topped with ikan bilis (dried anchovies with peanuts) is the centrepiece of this rice dish. The meat in our beef rendang dissolves into long strands when touched with a fork, and the coconut-based gravy is rich and thick. We punctuated bites of the pleasantly spicy curry with cooling cucumber wedges, boiled egg with sambal, and sweet and sour pickles.
I wouldn’t normally write a review for an eatery when I’ve just tried one plate, but this nasi lemak was so well balanced, it boded very well for the rest of Alex Lee's menu.
Alex Lee Kitchen
Spice Alley, 18-20 Kensington Street, Chippendale
Ph: (02) 9281 0822