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Aladdin/Chilli Padi Malaysian Restaurant


flowbee
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I was scouring the web for Malaysian restaurants in Vancouver, and came across this listing for "Chilli Padi" on Fraser St. between 41st and 43rd. We checked it out today, and first impressions are good.

[brief aside]

We went to Seri Malaysia on Hastings and Nanaimo the night before, and came away underwhelmed. Seems like owner there also runs Kedah House on Marine Dr., which did not bode well because we were extremely disappointed by the food and service at Kedah House. So rather than do a seperate post on our experience at Seri Malaysia, long story short: the bright, savoury spark that we like in Malaysian cuisine was missing from our meal at Seri Malaysia. 7/10, which in retrospect we downgraded to 6/10. We feel bad because Seri's a family business...two kids working the register and floor, and also taking orders. Sweet but the food let us down. We're sick of frozen store-bought roti canai...

[/brief aside]

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Start of some confusion. The restaurant is called Chilli Padi, but it seems to be also called Aladdin Restaurant. Their menu isn't online yet, so here it is:

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This space used to be the original Kedah House waaay back. They've completely redone the interior, and it's very nice and clean:

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Mind you, they've only been open for 2 weeks.

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Cendol -- which is usually a dessert. Here it's a drink. It's served with palm sugar syrup on the side, so you can make it as sweet as you want. We ended up adding 1/2 the container :biggrin:

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We started off with their salad sampler, which includes (clockwise from orange stuff) Rojak Mamak, Fried Tofu (Tahu Goreng), Tebbole (Tabouli?) and Gado-Gado. Quite good! The tabouli was a bit too salty, which seems to be a common problem with tabouli (eg. tabouli at Abdul's BBQ in Crystal Mall). The tahu goreng was nice 'n spicy. My favourite was the rojak, which was done in a new style we've never seen before. The orange sauce was kind of pumpkin-like.

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Beef satay. Nicely carmelized on the outside, if a bit too sweet for my taste. Otherwise very tasty. Served with cucumber and pressed rice cubes!!

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We think this was the Mamak Fried Noodles, but we asked for it to be made vegetarian, so it's probably altered a bit from the straight-up version. This kind of noodle can be a bit oily, but it wasn't here. Nice stuff.

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"Iraqi Okra". Chunks of beef and okra in a gravy. The gravy part reminded us of those canned sardines in tomato sauce. The consistency of the sauce is the same, with more of a beefy flavour. We loved the okra but the beef could've been a bit more tender. A good, not quite great, dish.

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Sambal Mackerel. Fried mackerel with awesome sweet/savoury/spicy sauce on top. This is the kind of dish that tastes great with rice. We like the rice at this place. It's probably basmati rice, with long grains and the grains are all seperated, unlike chinese or japanese rice.

We got a very good first impression of this restaurant. We'll *have* to try it again to sample their other dishes and see if the good vibes continue. We found it strange yet cool that there were quite a few Middle Eastern and Indian dishes on the menu...probably owing to the whole melting pot/multicultural facet to Malaysia. This place wasn't busy at all. Our food came out at a nice pace. Waiter was on-the-ball. Decent serving sizes. Four people were stuffed for under $40. Give it a shot if you've been disappointed with the Malaysian food around town.

Side note: we're really missing the old Rasa Singapura (Richmond Public Market), especially their bright punchy laksa, homemade roti prata, yummy char quay teow and their awesome sambal sauce :sad: Does anyone know what the old owners are up to nowadays? The current owner does an ok job, but I think they really overextend themselves with the hugely expanded menu.

album of the moment: Kelley Polar - I Need You To Hold On While The Sky Is Falling - 2008
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I don't think I've ever had real Malaysian food (I enjoy Tropika's... but I suspect that doesn't count) and...

How so?

I am not familiar with Malaysian cuisine but do have a couple of Tropika's here [Edmonton] which did advertise themselves as providing Malaysian cuisine. No idea if they are in fact associated with the coastal venture apart from the common name.

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I think the Tropika's in Alberta and BC are all the same franchise (is that the right term?). I just mean that Tropika's is my only exposure to Malaysian cuisine so I have no basis of judging how authentic it is (as opposed to, for example, a Chinese perspective of the cuisine).

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i took a photo of the bill and realized that they didn't charge us for one dish! so the total for 4 people should actually be ~$42.

now, about tropika...i've had delicious food at tropika (eg. their saucy chili crab-like dish) but afaik they are hong kong people-owned and operated, with mostly cantonese staff. not sure about the cooks. i don't like how they water down their menu with thai dishes...doing too much at once. i've read on the web some people describing tropika as an hk take on malaysian food. i've been to the tropika in edmonton and asked the staff about their relation to the tropika's in bc, and they didn't seem to know what i was talking about...so maybe the only connection is the name.

album of the moment: Kelley Polar - I Need You To Hold On While The Sky Is Falling - 2008
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Elly at Continental Centre (one of the Chinese malls on Cambie) in Richmond also does a great roti canai. It's Taiwanese-owned, but the owners may have lived in Malaysia before. Anyway, the chicken satay is among the best I've had. Juicy chicken with noticeable bits of ginger & maybe lemongrass on the chicken. The dipping sauce is nice & chunky. The level of spicyness in their food varies - one time, the laksa made my eyes tear, nose run & face redden (mind you, everybody else was ok, so it was a little embarassing) but other times, I have no problem.

Since they're Taiwanese, they also offer some Taiwanese dishes like 3-cup chicken, which they also do really well. Their fried tofu topped with bonito (I think they just call it "shredded fish" on the menu) is also a signature dish of Elly.

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Hi all. Just joined the board a couple of days back. I am Kiam Ang, the Canadian franchisee of Prima Taste Restaurant.

Just some factual updates.

Ellie's, in Richmond's Continental Centre, is owned by a Malaysian.

Carol, formerly of Rasa Singapura in Richmond Public Market, is no longer in the food business.

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[brief aside]

We went to Seri Malaysia on Hastings and Nanaimo the night before, and came away underwhelmed. Seems like owner there also runs Kedah House on Marine Dr., which did not bode well because we were extremely disappointed by the food and service at Kedah House. So rather than do a seperate post on our experience at Seri Malaysia, long story short: the bright, savoury spark that we like in Malaysian cuisine was missing from our meal at Seri Malaysia. 7/10, which in retrospect we downgraded to 6/10. We feel bad because Seri's a family business...two kids working the register and floor, and also taking orders. Sweet but the food let us down. We're sick of frozen store-bought roti canai...

[/brief aside]

I live two blocks from that restaurant, but I've never been tempted to go because they have such a weak selection of vegetarian dishes. There used to be a Singaporeese restaurant kitty corner from them (similar food) that had wonderful vegetarian selections, but unfortunately it went under years ago.

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Thanks for the pics flowbee. I am so addicted to roti canai. You know who does a decent one? Prima Taste downtown.

Prima Taste offers Roti Canai? The handful of times I've been they didn't have it on the menu, only the Roti Prata. Cool, I'll have to go and try it there :) Will have to arrange an outing there soon!

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i've been reading about the difference between roti canai (pronounced chan-eye) and roti prata. i always thought they were different names for basically the same thing, but there does seem to be a difference. roti canai is malaysian, which is supposed to be more soft and fluffy, whereas roti prata is a singaporean variation that is cooked with more oil and higher heat creating a more flaky, crispy roti -- which i confess that i like better.

in any case, i think the restaurants here can do a better job at whatever kind of roti they serve. i'll have to try prima taste and see how they compare... i've always been put-off by the higher prices there. almost $10 for a bowl of laksa??

kiam, i have a few questions about prima taste:

do you make your roti from scratch?

do you use prima taste brand pre-prepared products in your restaurant?

do you serve your chili crab with those man tou buns?

album of the moment: Kelley Polar - I Need You To Hold On While The Sky Is Falling - 2008
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Hi Flowbee,

Roti - I'll let you try and decide for yourself.

Sauce - Yes, we do use Prima products imported from Singapore.

Crab - Yes, we do serve man tou with Chilli Crab. We usually serve it deep-fried. However, if the kitchen is not too busy, we can steam it.

May I ask how familiar you are with Singapore food?

akl.

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we have a few friends and family friends who are from singapore or are of singaporean descent. they've helped introduce us to singaporean cuisine. we've been to most singaporean and malaysian restaurants around town. we also stopped off in singapore for a few days a couple years ago during an asia trip. we got the makansutra guide and researched places to eat on the web. we absolutely love singaporean food, and love how hawker stalls in singapore concentrate on doing one thing and doing it well. we talked to a few hawker stall operators and they were all so passionate about their food -- it's just wonderful to eat their food and feel that passion. if sometimes i sound overly critical or mean, it's because i eat a certain dish and don't feel the same passion. i see someone who cut corners, or didn't put in enough care, effort or attention, and it just makes me angry.

and i think that most of us on this board don't mind paying for quality -- but we must see and taste the quality on the plate!

i'll make an effort to try your restaurant soon!

album of the moment: Kelley Polar - I Need You To Hold On While The Sky Is Falling - 2008
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Thank you for your frank reply.

Makansutra is a good guide, but by no means the definitive guide. Singaporeans are very passionate about our food. If I were to pick people off the street in Singapore randomly and ask for their favorite Chicken Rice place, chances are I will get 8 different places. And chances are I will not have heard about half of the places! The same goes for any other food.

I believe our strengths lie with the support from Singapore, enabling us to offer twists to classic dishes like Seafood Laksa Spaghetti.

Do come and try our dishes. I will say majority of our "classic" dishes are as close as it get to the hawker's in Singapore. Bring your Singaporean friends along and let them be the judge.

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Thanks for the pics flowbee. I am so addicted to roti canai. You know who does a decent one? Prima Taste downtown.

Prima Taste offers Roti Canai? The handful of times I've been they didn't have it on the menu, only the Roti Prata. Cool, I'll have to go and try it there :) Will have to arrange an outing there soon!

Sorry, I must have been confused. In fact, I still am! The roti parata at Primas Taste is puffier and flakier than I've had at other places. Chindi, the owner of Chutney Villa is from Singapore, or at least I read she moved here from Singapore so she serves good nice roti parata. What is roti canai then?

Has anyone been to that obscure place called JR's on Fraser? I see it's moved a couple of doors down from its former location.

"I used to be Snow White, but I drifted."

--Mae West

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  • 1 month later...

Just signed up to eGullet.

I was there yesterday w/ 5 other people in the evening. It was Packed, and filled w/ people from different cultural backgrounds. The meal was excellent-tasted so much like the real McCoy.Here's the link to more photos, in addition to Flowbee's above---http://www.flickr.com/photos/fattiretribephoto/

I'd suggested a "seasonal" dish that they may want offer up this summer, and I'm pretty sure Chili Padi knows the recipe to cooking fiddle heads (Paku-pakis in Bahasa) in gulai lemak. Looking forward to this dish...

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I'm originally from Singapore and I've always though of roti canai and roti prata to be equivalent. They taste similar enough to me that I can't tell the difference (if there was one anyway).

To get back on roti chanai or canai---and for readers to this board wanting to know how roti is prepared as opposed to those come in frozen---I've taken some photos, slide format, back in Malaysia.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/fattiretribep...57603684604794/

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