Orange Hat Cafe, 16 Harrington Square, Altona. Phone: 0433 264 887
We reckon it’s pretty cool to see life – and food – blooming at Harrington Square, and Orange Hat Cafe is right in the thick of it.
We have visited previously.
But that was pre-winter, pre-lockdown – and subsequently seems a long time ago.
So, inevitably, I end up asking the same questions again.
Or more precisely, inquiring exactly what kind of food does Orange Hat serve?
The answer is Malaysian. With a hint of Singaporean. And a flourish of Indian – especially with a new chef on board, one with an Indian family background.
As well, some of the staff members wear hijabs, so of course the food here is halal.
So I figure Orange Hat is something of a halal twin for another of our favourite places, Panjali in Sunshine, where the food is likewise Malaysian, but the spiritual flavour is Hindu.
Not that any of this matters, really, but I do like to get such things right.
And besides, the most important things about Orange Hat are the following – the welcome is toasty warm, the smiles wide and the food very, very good.
If we lived in Altona, or anywhere near it, we’d be here once a week.
At LEAST once a week.
Orange Hat Cafe is gearing up again after the long, unopen winter.
We’re told “specials” such as banana leaf meals will return in the new year.
And – who knows? – perhaps the current opening hours of Thursday-Sunday and noon-5pm may be extended.
In the meantime, we are restricted – during our Sunday lunch visit – to the “Permanent Menu” (see below).
And that is no hardship at all.
Bennie rates his nasi lemak rendang ($14) as right up there with “the best” he’s ever had.
It’s all very simple, with all the requisite bits and pieces laid out beautifully.
The beef is very coconutty – and manages the neat trick of having the feel and flavour of homecooked food, as opposed to restaurant cooking.
My mee rebus ($12) is a 10/10 soup noodle dish; it’s superb.
There are plentiful cubes of no-bone lamb in there and lots more besides, all luxuriating in a viscous “shrimp/peanut broth”.
Hardboiled egg, noodles, bean sprouts, tofu.
You get the picture.
It’s a big serve at a low price.
Having enjoyed our savoury lunches so very much, we are in such an expansive mood that we partake of a trio of the sweet offerings – the pinkish kuih lapis (steamed layer cake), the yellow bingke ubi (baked tapioca cake) and apam gula melaka (a sort steamed apple cake).
We love the first two; the last, with its earthy flavour, not so much.
We reckon Altona locals are extremely lucky to have Orange Hat Cafe in their backyard.
And we also reckon westies from all over, and Melburnians generally, should make the drive and the effort.