In the humble suburbs of Pakuranga comes Small Fry Cafe in the Te Tuhi art gallery, run by Ruby White aka Miss Changy. Known from her restaurant pop ups and homemade crockery, she’s settled down into a permanent home with this new eatery which already made Metro Top 10 Cafes 2017 within two months of opening. As I’m more often in Pakuranga than not these days, I was extremely excited by this choice of location as it makes it super convenient to be able to have a good brunch any time without having to drive into central and battle for parking.
A Pot of Chai ($4.50) served on a cute homemade ceramic platter and mugs with small cups of milk was required this semi-gloomy morning to warm the soul with its gentle, soothing spices.
The ceramics are all lovingly handmade by Miss Changy and are absolutely charming with their unrefined edges, slightly disarrayed shapes and uneven surface.
Her Malaysian influences are strong in this eatery with items such as Miss Changy Sarawak style laksa, and Congee served with youtiao (chinese fried donut/ bread) featuring on the menu. It was a tough decision between wanting to try her take on everyday foods we all grew up with, or trying something new. In the end, I opted for the Kaya Toast served with two onsen eggs ($13.00).
For those unfamiliar, kaya toast is a traditional Malaysian / Singaporean breakfast. The kaya is the coconut pandan jam, with the green colour coming from the pandan. It was silky smooth, rich, and a little coconutty with a fragrant aroma of pandan leaf adding that “vanilla-like” dimension. The bread is spread with a slab of butter and then slathered with the creamy kaya jam on top.
The eggs were plump and perfectly cooked to the just-holding-itself-together stage. Doused with a splash of soy sauce to cut through the richness of the yolk and the jam, it was just begging to be popped for the toast to be dipped into. The egg was the perfect consistency to lusciously coat the bread and jam when dipped and provided an extra oompf of a mouthful. Dry, burnt and uninspired toast? You won’t get that here.
I did find it too shy on the soy sauce however. The yolk was too creamy and required the salty kick to balance it out as well as to bring out the sweetness of the kaya which was also very subtle. The prices seemed more suitable for say, Ponsonby, and if you’re Asian or stingy like me (let’s be honest, both are pretty synonymous with each other), it makes it rather hard to convince you to venture out to try an expensive version of a dish you’re already very familiar with.
It pains me to say this knowing so much effort is put in and how hard the team behind Small Fry must work but while I enjoyed the Kaya Toast, I didn’t find it particularly outstanding for the price. I’m still uncertain whether I’d want to splurge on $15 for a bowl of congee for what’s deemed as a peasant meal, and the $17 Laksa portion I saw was definitely a one person serving compared to other Malaysian eateries in town. However, my Malaysian friend has been raving to me about the sambos (sandwiches) so you may be better off taking her word for it over mine.
Small Fry Cafe | 13 Reeves Road, Pakuranga (Te Tuhi Gallery) | facebook