238/230 Pennant Hills Rd.
Thornleigh, Sydney

GIVE AWAY: For Christmas/New Year we're giving away a $150 voucher to Istana. Just send us an email at with your name and the word Istana. The winner will be drawn on Friday 2nd January  2015 and the prize must be used by 20th March 2015. This give away is supported by the Malaysian Kitchen Programme.

Istana Malaysian Restaurant is one of those hidden suburban places that seems like any other place at first. However, once you get to try their food you'll realise that it is actually quite a special place. We were there with a group which fortunately gave us the chance to try a wider range of dishes from their lengthy menu. Of course the additional challenge with groups is trying to get the number of dishes you order down to a manageable number. We didn't and over-ordered quite a bit - which actually isn't unusual!

Because Istana is part of the Central Park complex, parking is very easy. There's outside parking just downstairs from the restaurant, and undercover parking further down again. Both these levels have stair and lift access to the top where Istana sits.

We always seem to grab a serving of satay chicken skewers when we eat out at Malaysian restaurants. It's a great start to a meal and it also gives a bit of insight into what lies ahead. These were tender and very tasty. The satay was one of the spiciest we've had as well which we loved. As there were a number of non-Malaysian dishes on the menu we also ordered a serving of curry puffs - a tried and proven favourite. Again these tasted good and turned out to be quite spicy - which was just what we wanted.

On our recent visits to Malaysian restaurants we hadn't seen many with loh bak on the menu. So, once spotted here they were a must to order for a starter.

Loh bak is a finger food, starter or snack in Malaysia and is made from pork mince that is spiced and wrapped in bean curd skin and then deep fried. They're kind of like chunky pork mince sausage rolls. These were delicious, and even better with the tangy dipping sauce they were served with, and the cool fresh cucumber.

Otak otak is another speciality that isn't on the menu at every Malaysian restaurant. The dish consists of fish that is wrapped in banana leaf and cooked, sealing in both the juices and flavours. It was extremely tender and tasted great with the chilli sauce and a squeeze of lemon juice - giving it bite and acidity. Just lovely.

The absolute killer dish of the night was without a doubt the Malaysian chilli mud crab. My oh my this was good.

The crabs are cooked fresh and arrive in pieces swimming in a sea of delicious chilli sauce. They do give you equipment to crack the shells, finger bowls and plenty of hand towels which is just as well as it's a messy dish to eat. Be prepared to get a little "sauced" but it's finger licking good anyway so it's not really a problem!

We have a confession to make - we love crispy shredded beef. It's just so good - crunchy, slightly sweet and very tangy.

The version available at Istana didn't disappoint us either.

Then there was the roti. We could eat this every day. It's such a lovely thing and perfect either on its own or to use to mop up curry and chilli sauces. The roti was certainly very nice here at Istana.

Malaysian to many means kway teow, which we again ordered. Although it normally comes with plenty of prawns we had the seafood free version this time to suit some of our group. It was another strong dish, and a side of coconut rice also went well.

Beef rendang is another typical Malaysian dish that we also just seem to order everywhere we go. It's always so tender, with the meat dissolving when you eat it. The rich curry is also delicious too! To try to appear somewhat healthy we also ordered a serving of mixed vegetables. While veggies are a favourite of Mlady, Sir tends to avoid them unless pushed. He actually enjoyed these ones though as they were an interesting combination and very fresh.

Finally we ended our main courses with our fish dish.

The Nonya Fish Curry was a really huge serving of battered fish, massive in fact, in a tangy and spicy curry.

We were already quite full at this stage of the meal though, so even with its spicy kick and great tender fish we still struggled to get through it all. Eventually we failed due to excessive over-ordering. 

Istana is very highly regarded and for good reasons. It's been there in Thornleigh for years - and in fact has had the same chef for 25 years - quite an achievement. The food is of course Malaysian, but there are other choices on the menu as well.

Istana is worth a visit for some great food!

Sir and Mlady's visit was supported by the Malaysian Kitchen Programme.

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