Saturday, May 14, 2011

Kayu Manis, Wellington

This post was originally written for the Makan Blog Squad. Mr and Mrs Cake dined anonomously courtesy of Malaysia Kitchen. 

Kayu Manis is right in Wellington’s prime Malaysian food zone, on Cuba Street, and always seems to be buzzing. We’d tried to visit for a Friday night dinner previously but they were full, so this time round we booked to make sure we’d get in.

The restaurant is a bit more formal than many of the Malaysian eateries in Wellington, and felt more leisurely because of that. It’s a bit pricier as well but only by a couple of dollars per dish, so is a great option if you want to linger over your meal. 

We ordered three starters: beef satay, karipap (curry puffs) and cucur udang (prawn fritters). The satay was delicious, the sauce with a good depth of flavour and gentle warmth, and the beef was pretty tender. There was more sauce than we needed and when the meat was gone we ate it by the spoonful, which probably tells you all you need to know. ;-)

The curry puffs were nice, if a little bland – the pastry was good and crispy, though. The sweet chilli sauce was excellent (the same was served with the prawn fritters) but I wasn’t too sure about it with the savoury curry filling. The prawn fritters were great, though, with fresh juicy prawns hidden inside, and they went wonderfully with the sweet chilli – a much better match. 

Mr Cake stole my default choice and went with the beef rendang for his main, forcing me to choose something different. In the end (there were a LOT of choices!) I settled on ayam percik – chicken in a spicy barbeque sauce. It was great, with a mild chilli kick – the flavour was what you’d expect from a (good) barbeque sauce, and the chicken was beautifully moist and tender. My biggest gripe was that the chicken came on the bone – not really an issue, just something I find awkward.

The flavour of the rendang was really nice, like the satay the heat was gentle and full-bodied, and the beef was tender, though the marinade was quite dry – most other rendang I’ve had has been saucier, which I prefer.

The roti was the best I’ve had for ages – fluffy and fresh. I understand that Kayu Manis make their own, and that if you play your cards right and get a table downstairs you can watch them being made.
Overall it was a good meal – the satay, ayam percik and roti get special mentions, and the atmosphere made for an enjoyable evening.

And if you're keen to get a taste of Malasia for yourself, check this out - Kiwis are getting the chance to test their curry tolerance in the “Can you handle the Malaysia Kitchen heat?” challenge. The first 100 people through the door will get the chance to taste five different curries for free in return for rating the curries - and there will be spot prizes as well!

Friday 27 May, 12–2pm, Istana Malaysia, 1 Allen St, Wellington. Visit for more info.

Kayu Manis is located at 201 Cuba Street, Wellington, ph 04 382 8627,


  1. you've been doing a lot of "dining anonymously" lately, Mrs Cake. Will this soon escalate to "accepting payment for favours rendered" when you give a 5 star recommendation?
    *suspicious eyes*


    anyway I'm glad that you're enjoying yourself eating out so much, and that you enjoyed this meal!!

  2. Michelle, haha, you don't need to worry about that! In case you were wondering, I say I "dined anonymously" because the cost of the meal is reimbursed by Malaysia Kitchen, so the restaurant don't know I'm reviewing them (and hence can't give special treatment). :-) It definitely is great getting to try so many different Malaysian places!

  3. Oh, I love this place - I've had a seat right by the kitchen before, so you can see them expertly creating the roti. Such a great menu, glad you had a good time there.

  4. Laura, there were so many choices! Almost too many, but nice to be able to choose. :-)


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