Kitchen Inn

469 Elizabeth St, Melbourne 3000
Date visited: 18th October 2012

Damn!  I was so crushed I was away on the opening day of Kitchen Inn, a homemade noodle shop selling my favourite Kolo Mee.  For those who never heard of Kolo Mee, it is one of the famous dishes served at local hawker stores in Sarawak.  It consists of egg noodles, flash-boiled then usually served with pork oil, crushed garlic and shallots, minced pork and sliced barbecued pork known as char siew.  Growing up in Sarawak, it is my absolute favourite dish in the world, the food I would ask for on my deathbed, my last request if I were on death row.

I had to leave Melbourne for work, so this review was done by MerlinFan who attended with Mum.

MerlinFan says:

Went for the grand opening.

The place was packed and we didn't want to sit outside, so the waitress efficiently went in and got us two seats inside. One peeve was that they sat us on a five person table and never asked if we minded sharing the table, but sat us immediately with another family.

The waiter came promptly to take orders. Mum and I noticed that they had a banner outside saying that you got a free drink of teh tarik/ice lemon tea with every Kolo or Kampua Mee. When we ordered Kolo Mee, there was no mention of this offer, but the waiter just asked "anything else?" I asked about the FREE drink and he finally took our order for it.

*** NOTE:  One thing you should always be wary of in Asian restaurants is the "free or complimentary" food.  If you don't actively ask for it, no ask = no get.

The teh tarik came pretty quickly.  

It was really nice, just the perfect amount of sweetness and milkiness and smokiness from the tea. Yummmm.... We had a free teapot of Chinese tea too - ladies sitting beside us us asked for it and kindly shared with us as there was one pot per table.

We got our Kolo Mee fairly quickly. When it got here, it smelt sooo good, really authentic like what we would get back home.  

Kolo Mee $8.50 
Authentic hawker store-like rooster bowl!
Looks pretty authentic, right?  This is an example of what Kolo Mee from the hawker store in Sarawak looks like (takeaway).

Mum tasted it first while I was snapping away and immediately commented that it didn't really taste like Kolo Mee. That somehow it was "sweet" rather than salty. 

Upon tasting it, I immediately knew what she meant - there was that familiar taste of pork oil that you usually have with Kolo Mee, however something that gave it that extra savoury flavour seemed to be missing :(  The minced meat was also extremely meagre - like a mince sludge and the char siew was unlike the ones at home - mainly meat - this one had bits of bone and fat in it!  I am usually not a big fan of charsiew so this one I liked even less as it had a rather pungent, yucky "porky" smell. @_@  The noodles too were rather chewy and much thicker than the tight springy ones we have back in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak.

As we were eating, I noticed a group of friends at the table behind us.  When we were first seated, some members of the party of five had already had their noodles. The waitress mixed up 2 girls' Kolo and Kampua Mee, by the way - she couldn't even tell which was which and had to go back to the kitchen to ask.

After we had our orders taken, one of the girls at the table asked the waitress where her drink was as she was the only one missing a drink at the table. Seeing that they'd forgotten her drink, she reminded them of her Kolo Mee too as obviously if they'd forgotten her drink, they'd probably forgotten her whole order too, right?

Anyways, she got her drink, but even after Mum and I had finished our meal (remember their party were seated and eating before us so they'd probably been there quite a while!) the girl still hadn't gotten her noodles! She finally got up and gracefully left without a meal. I thought it was rather unprofessional (and rude) that the restaurant would serve everybody else at the table except for one and completely disregard her order eventhough she reminded them twice that she hadn't yet been served! And to serve other tables coming in after them first. 

The idea of having a Kolo Mee shop right in the CBD was an extremely exciting one for me as it is my favourite food and a must have the moment I set foot home in Sarawak, so I would say I was rather disappointed by the Kolo Mee at Kitchen Inn. It smelt teasingly like Kolo, but tasted sadly more like Kampua. And it got so oily toward the end, Mum and I felt slightly sick and couldn't finish. MikhaelfBlue wanted to try it herself today (*#$% did not believe me) but I did not recommend it to her.  Maybe give a few more months - perhaps they'll improve - not yet ready to let go of that promising idea of Kolo Mee in Melbourne just yet.

Click here for Second visit to Kitchen Inn - EPIC FAIL

Kitchen Inn on Urbanspoon

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  1. That graceful girl saw this post!!! LOL

    1. HAHA! I wasn't there when MerlinFan visited but we would have done the same (though probably not so gracefully)...

  2. I thought the whole place was quite disappointing! Teething problems I suppose. They don't have enough wait staff, but I was lucky and didn't have to wait very long. The kampua was the only excellent thing there. The laksa was terribly diluted, and the bakuteh was ok. The kolo mee wasn't kolo mee!

    1. Glad another Malaysian thought so! MerlinFan and Mum said the same thing, that the kolo mee wasn't kolo mee >:( With our beloved Sarawak classic, there's no such thing as it is "good for kolo mee in Melbourne"... either it is or it ain't!!

  3. Same I didn't like it either, although I waited a good few weeks after opening to try them. I could have walked out without paying! I ordered the kolo mee and hated it. Review to come soon

    1. At least you even got your kolo mee. I just went to try it for myself today, but we were totally ignored and no one even came to take our orders so I just got pissed off and left - LOL full review (and rant) just posted too. Look forward to seeing your review!

  4. here it is.