Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

What Malaysian dish to try next?


Recommended Posts

As some of you already know (thanks, Laksa and Pan!), I'm on an exploratory Malaysian quest. I've already had the following:

Nasi Lemak, Turmeric Rice. Ikan Billis, Beef Rendang, Laksa, Rojak, Char Kwey Tow, Peanut Pancake, Shrimp Puffs and Coconut Pudding (And I have to say, of this list, I loved Rojak and Peanut Pancake the most...!)

..and I'm looking for the next big thing. A few of the items on my radar are:

Pasember, Kerabu, Pork Intestines, Baby Oyster Omlet, Achat, Hainese Chicken Rice, or Chili Crab.

Anyone have any opinions on what's the--well--most deserving to be sampled? Thanks in advance!

Janet (Pitchblack70)

Mochi, Foi Thong and Rojak - what more can a girl want from life?

http://www.frombruneiandbeyond.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You have yet to have any asam dishes, any Malaysian curries, and any dishes with sambal belacan, so that's where I'd suggest you start. Take your husband (if he's into it) out to a Malaysian restaurant and order something like Asam Fish Head and Kangkung Belacan, then go another time and have something curried (e.g. jumbo shrimp, crab, chicken, fish) and Petai or Lady's Finger (=Okra) or Long Bean Belacan. You also should get some Kaya (very rich, eggy coconut custardy jam); Jing Fong, which I understand is owned by a Chinese Malaysian from Ipoh, serves kaya buns on weekends at their dim sum lunch. Two other really common Malaysian foods are Nasi Goreng (fried rice) and Mee Goreng (fried noodles). And then there's Bubur and Pulut Hitam, but I'll bet that whatever you get in any restaurant won't hold a candle to what you can get for 1 ringgit at any number of stalls in Kuala Lumpur (but try it, anyway). I don't know where you'd get Nasi Kerabu or Nasi Ulam in New York; does Eastanah have Nasi Kerabu on their menu? I wonder what they use for herbs and vegetables. Traditionally, Nasi Kerabu and Nasi Ulam use fresh locally-grown or/and wild green vegetables available in Kelantan. In terms of Malaysia, I tend to think of pig's intestine as a Hakka food above all; I remember having pig intestine soup in hole-in-the-wall across from the long-distance bus station in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan in the 70s. Practicing Muslims don't eat pig intestine, of course.

Of the foods you listed, Hainanese Chicken Rice is a natural. It's so widely loved by Malaysians of all regions and ethnicities. Chili Crab is delicious.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do you like seafood? In particular stingray? I had a pretty good Pangan Ikan at Penang the last time I was there. Pangan Ikan is fish grilled in banana leaf with a spicy sambal sauce, and it's a pretty popular dish in Malaysia. Squeeze plenty of lime over the fish.

Oyster omelette is something I order pretty regularly. Love it.

Hainanese chicken rice is another regular, but bear in mind that the chicken is served at room temperature. Eat the chicken with plenty of the ginger/chili sauce. If the sauce runs out before the chicken, don't hesitate to ask for more.

Is there a particular food or ingredient that you like, such as meat, seafood, rice or wheat noodle, or tofu; or a particular taste profile, such as sour, sweet, spicy, salty or bitter. Malaysian cooking is diverse enough that if you could tell me what you like, I could try to suggest dishes you might enjoy.

I love rice noodles, and "whad dan hor" is something I enjoy, even more than char kway teow when the mood suits. Most menus list it as "Seafood Scramble Egg Chow Fun". It should be served with green pickled chilis on the side, over which I like to pour soy sauce.

I don't believe you've said you've had satay (beef or chicken). I've never had satay in NYC myself, but it is considered, along with nasi lemak, to be Malaysia's national dish.

If you like tofu, I would recommend Yong TauFoo. Given a choice of soup, go with the clear chicken broth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Funny that you should mention it, but I was at Penang about two weeks ago, and the couple at the table next to us ordered the stingray. I was fascinated by the banana leaf and the large amount of curry on the dish...

Hmmmm - my tastes? I LOVE hot n' spicy, and also sweet (I was crazy for the rojak at Penang, for instance.) I like my tastes strong and rich, not subtle. (The tumeric rice is the only exception I've run across.)

Re: food substances, I'm a seafood or chicken person, probably preferably the seafood. I also like tofu. In the past, I've also been a pasta fan (angel hair's my favorite), although I've been less carby due to diet as of late...

Mochi, Foi Thong and Rojak - what more can a girl want from life?

http://www.frombruneiandbeyond.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The satay served by Malaysia Airlines is first class... sadly only available in Business and First...

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Funny that you should mention it, but I was at Penang about two weeks ago, and the couple at the table next to us ordered the stingray. I was fascinated by the banana leaf and the large amount of curry on the dish...

Hmmmm - my tastes? I LOVE hot n' spicy, and also sweet (I was crazy for the rojak at Penang, for instance.) I like my tastes strong and rich, not subtle. (The tumeric rice is the only exception I've run across.)

Re: food substances, I'm a seafood or chicken person, probably preferably the seafood. I also like tofu. In the past, I've also been a pasta fan (angel hair's my favorite), although I've been less carby due to diet as of late...

That is funny. How funny? I had stingray at Penang with my wife on Saturday night, Aug 21 (about two weeks ago), and the female half of the couple next to us ordered rojak.

**cue Twilight Zone music**

If you like it spicy, I would second Pan's recommendation of kangkong belacan, but don't order that at Penang. When we had it there, they didn't use enough belacan and the flavor was weak. The stingray we had was spicy enough though, so I have a feeling you'll enjoy it.

Satay is served with a sweet and slightly spicy peanut sauce so I think you may want to try that. Let me know if and where you find good satay. :smile:

The asam dishes are spicy but with sour notes provided by the tamarind. Sambal Ikan bilis is spicy and gets very umami-ish flavors from the shrimp paste and from the dried anchovies. You may have had this already as a lot of restaurants serve it with their nasi lemak. Same goes for achar, which is swet, sour and spicy. All have very strong flavors, as opposed to Yong taufoo, which is a rather delicately flavored dish.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pan-

Actually, Nyona has Kerabu.

Oh, and PS: I tried Murtabak and Coconut Pancake yesterday at Eastanah. Unfortunately, I had called ahead for pickup, and then hit traffic. As a result, it took an hour to get to the food, and everything was soggy (my fault.)

My few impressions: Both the Murtabak and the Coconut Pancake were cut up into small bitesized pieces, with thin spreads between two slices of roti, which I imagine had started out flaky/crispy. The murtabak had ground beef and onion and the coconut pancake had a thin, sweet coconut mousse-like spread.

I have so much to try, so I hate repeating a dish unless I know I love it. But I don't know that I can consider these two items properly tested.... *Sigh*

Mochi, Foi Thong and Rojak - what more can a girl want from life?

http://www.frombruneiandbeyond.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Laksa, one of these days, I'll try Sentosa again, now that it's on Prince St., Flushing. I passed it up for dinner today because Spicy & Tasty had a table available for one (yum!). I generally found them acceptable when they were in Manhattan. (I've never had Malaysian food that was better than boleh tahan [so-so] in New York, including Flushing, but it costs a lot less time and money than a round-trip flight to KL.) Restaurant Malaysia always served suitably strong-tasting kangkung belacan, but I was a little dissatisfied with other things the last two or three times I was there. You'd think that with all the people flooding out of Ipoh, there would be some really good Malaysian restaurants somewhere around here...

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Laksa,

:blink: Oh my - that was you???? :biggrin:

Just to be sure, we were as far back in the restaurant as we could get before going into the "back area". I was facing the back wall, with the "other" couple to my left. I've got dark hair, I'm rather tall and lean - and I have to admit to staring rather intensely at the stingray. The gentleman (you?) commented that it was stingray at the time (I think I was being too obtrusive about it...)

MAJOR Twilight Zone, if that was you! (Can't wait to get a confirm!)

PS: Just tried the KangKung Belacan at Nyonya, and barely tasted much seasoning at all. Was rather disappointed at that, and now wonder if I should go for Pasembur or Ladies Fingers.

Mochi, Foi Thong and Rojak - what more can a girl want from life?

http://www.frombruneiandbeyond.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

PS: Just tried the KangKung Belacan at Nyonya, and barely tasted much seasoning at all.

! I just can't imagine a belacan dish without much seasoning! What in the world are they doing?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If the diner was snapping photos, even before a single bite was taken, no doubt about it, you KNOW that it 's got to be an eGulletzer!

And then, just minutes/hours after the meal, those photos would be posted and found here, on our beloved eGullet. org!

So, Janet -- was the guy taking pictures of the stingray?

Edited by spaghetttti (log)

Yetty CintaS

I am spaghetttti

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:blink:  Oh my - that was you????   :biggrin:

Yeah! That was me and my wife! :blink: What are the odds?? :wacko: In a city of 8 million, and we don't even live in NYC!

What I remember was that among other things, you had a rojak and I think your dining companion had a Tsingtao beer, right? Still finding it difficult to believe. I should go buy a lottery ticket.

Yetty, you're right, I was taking pictures of everything for my blog. Don't tell me you were there too! :biggrin:

Edited by Laksa (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't tell me you were there too!  :biggrin:

Oh yeah, I was right there with you all .....in spirit!

Oh and another thing, I'm so glad to see that you've changed your avatar. I'd been meaning to suggest that you put up your own bowl of laksa, but you beat me to it! Looks great

Edited by spaghetttti (log)

Yetty CintaS

I am spaghetttti

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Laksa, that's really something else (I think I should get a lottery ticket, too.). Well, hi! (And sorry for staring at your stingray!) :biggrin:

That was my husband, Phil, with me. He's a brewer and a big beer connesseiur (sp?), so make that 3 Tsing Tao's that he had!

***********************************************

Question about what you (and everyone else) thinks about Nyonya. Just had Pasembur from them tonight (takeout) and I liked it alot. But again, it seemed slightly mild on the seasoning, although not as bad as the KangKung. Maybe Nyonya just tends to go mild??? Anyone?

Also, PS: I've now tried the Keuh Kueh from Sanur. I think I've just had too many glutinous rice desserts at this point - they don't seem particularly distinct to me. Of the batch, I'd say I liked the green with white top one most - the richness of the white part was a great contrast to the green sweet layer. But I'll still go for a Rojak FAR quicker than the Keuh... (Apples and oranges, I know.)

PS: Your wife seems very nice. Give my regards! :biggrin:

--Janet

Mochi, Foi Thong and Rojak - what more can a girl want from life?

http://www.frombruneiandbeyond.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Janet, I decided a few years ago that I was underwhelmed by Nyonya, though some of my Malaysian friends disagreed with my appraisal. I felt their menu was too large (including some non-Malaysian stuff they don't do well, like the Mee Jawa I tried one time), and in particular, their desserts (bubur and pulut hitam) are blah - no isi (which sort of means nothing in them, as bubur cacak should have plenty of root vegetables, not just token little pieces of cassava or something), though they're soothing and vaguely remind me of my second home. But then again, I've generally had trouble with feeling too positive about Malaysian restaurants here, particularly since I went back to Malaysia in July-August 2003. No coincidence there, I think. :raz::hmmm:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pan,

I've become disenchanted with them too (I'm a spicy-lovin' kind of gal.)

You seem to like Sentosa alot, but I'm from the Bronx and Chinatown Manhattan's closer. What do you think of the other options:

Penang (tried 2 times and so far like)

New Malaysia/Indonesia (in the corridor off Elizabeth)

Sanur

Singapore Cafe

Eastanah (okay, that's Soho - never mind this one!)

Also, any I missed?

Thanks! ---Janet

Mochi, Foi Thong and Rojak - what more can a girl want from life?

http://www.frombruneiandbeyond.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh - but there is one more reason I can see to go back to Nyonya - they have a few desserts I haven't seem elsewhere - one's a barley drink, the other I can't remember the name of...so I guess they'll just be for quick takeouts...!

Mochi, Foi Thong and Rojak - what more can a girl want from life?

http://www.frombruneiandbeyond.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I generally found Sentosa acceptable and reasonably satisfying, but I have yet to try their relatively new Flushing location.

I would no longer stand behind everything in the following linked post, but here were my takes on New Taste Good (I forget what it's now called: Doyers St. just off Bowery) and Singapore Cafe:

I also used to consider New Taste Good my standby, but not for awhile; I don't remember why I changed. I had one great meal at Singapore Cafe, but it was so fatty I've hesitated to return. (I think I went back once and had a good meal. It's been a while.)

If you do go to whatever New Taste Good is called nowadays, don't get the squid: It's dried reconstituted. Otherwise, I used to find their food dependably satisfying and inexpensive. As I recall, it now describes itself as Cantonese and not Malaysian but its menu hadn't changed

Here's my highly unfavorable post on New Malaysia in the arcade. However, New Indonesia & Malaysia is a different restaurant, on 18 Doyers St. That has to be the place Laksa described in his foodblog or somewhere else, with the kuih store on the ground floor and restaurant in the basement. And I haven't been to that location in quite a number of years.

I'm unfamiliar with Sanur, which, if it were true to its name, would be Balinese (Babi Guling, anyone?!), nor have I gone to Eastanah. I haven't been to any Penang branch for many years but if I did go to one other than the original branch in Flushing, I'd undoubtedly try the one closest to another area of high concentration of Chinese people (including some from Malaysia), i.e. the one Laksa went to, on Elizabeth just north of Canal. A friend of mine who's spent a lot of time in Malaysia went there I guess 1 1/2 to 2 years ago and liked it very much (said they spoke Malay with her, too). By the way, here's what I had to say about the Flushing branch of Penang:

Penang on Prince was inconsistent though never less than acceptable in my trips there - but that must have been some 2 years ago. That said, I never found it incredibly exciting, and the staff seemed to be constantly surprised by my wanting to order things like Asam Laksa that "white people don't like" - even when I spoke with them in Malaysian. :angry: By contrast, no-one questioned my choice of dishes at Restorant Malaysia [edit 9/10/04: I have since been questioned, but only be a new waitress who didn't know me], and the curry soup was made very spicy, just as they undoubtedly do for everyone (that's also one of the things I used to like about Sentosa and New Taste Good).

I must sound like a real sourpuss in this thread, but my standards for Malaysian food can be variously thought of as very high or simply as judged against the average cheap restaurant (and in some cases, stall) in Kuala Lumpur and environs. It's possible to get great Chinese food of various types in New York, and I want Malaysian food that's merely good, but I'm not sure I can get it with any kind of consistency.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pan,

Thanks for the reply - it will be a definite help in my search/exploration.

Sanur actually *is* the new name of New Taste Good, and is also the place that Laksa found the Keuh Kueh. I've now tried the Kueh, but have yet to try the restaurant - the prices look extremely reasonable, have yet to sample the food.

There's also a place on Bayard that apparently just closed, New Taste Good II (I think it *used* to be Ba Ba?)

Then there's always the Malaysian restaurants in Flushing, although I know I said I didn't want to travel that far. I know I saw 2 on 40th street that looked like possibilities....Let me know if you know anything about them. And in any case, thanks for the help!

:biggrin: --Janet

Mochi, Foi Thong and Rojak - what more can a girl want from life?

http://www.frombruneiandbeyond.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My uncle used to work at the Indonesian Consulate General (5 E. 68th) and I believe that their canteen served some really good lunches, open to the public.

Do they still do that?

Edited by spaghetttti (log)

Yetty CintaS

I am spaghetttti

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Darn it, somewhere on this thread, the words PICKLED GREEN CHILI PEPPER caught my eye, and now I can't find it.

What kind of pickle? Pickled how? With what flavorings? Please tell!

And Pan, that was entirely too much information - I remembered every single trip through Singapore and every single meal with every single Malaysian student or other friend I have ever met while reading through your list!

When I think about it, Malaysian food was my first "foreign" food - my mother went on a major Malaysian exploration when she bought Rosemary Brissenden's "South East Asian Cooking" some long time ago, and insisted (despite my protests) on cooking an all-Malaysian menu for my 12th birthday party. I recall that we had a chicken minahasa-style...followed by lemon sorbet for those unfamiliar with chili. My friends must have been hardened to strange experiences at my home, because I remember they ate everything, nothing daunted!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Darn it, somewhere on this thread, the words PICKLED GREEN CHILI PEPPER caught my eye, and now I can't find it.

What kind of pickle? Pickled how? With what flavorings? Please tell!

Helen, I was probably the one who brought them up when I wrote about "whad dan hor", or soupy scrambled egg flat rice noodles. I found a recipe at a Malaysian site but I can't attest to its quality as I've never attempted to make the pickle myself. From the sounds of your Malaysian food experience, you've probably eaten this stuff before.

It's always made with green chillies, but not the very small birdseye chillies. I have no idea what variety of chillies are used but they are between the size of Thai and Jalapeno, and not as hot as Thai. I see it more as a "sweet and sour" chilli than a pickle. You could probably get good results with Jalapeno (is that commonly available in Japan?), but I would not use Thai. The pickle needs to have a good balance of sweet, sour and hot.

Michael, I have found that a lot of the wait staff at the Malaysian restaurants in NYC may not know how to speak Malay as they are probably not from Malaysia.

Sanur is at 18 Doyers St, and that's where I got my kuih. The owner of Sanur is Malaysian but I don't know if he has Malaysian or Indonesian chefs. Maybe neither? I think next time I'm in NYC, I'll give them a try.

Michael, I view NYC Malaysian food somewhat differently from how you do. For me, it's a nice way to remember the food from my childhood so anything is better than nothing. The quality is of secondary importance. As long as it has some semblance of what I had in Malaysia, I will be satisfied. :biggrin:

Janet, did you try their cassava kueh? It's a brown in color and it's one of my all time favs. It's actually a Chinese kueh (树薯糕) I think but they give it a Malaysian twist by adding palm sugar.

The last two Malaysian restaurants I've eaten at have been Penang and Singapore Cafe. I liked the Char Kway Teow at Penang but at Singapore Cafe it was much too dry. However, Singapore Cafe has a delightful habit of adding crispy pork crackling to their noodle dishes. I had a very good "Lu Mien" (not lo mein) there as well as good whad dan hor. You can probably guess by now that I'm a noodle fiend.

At Malaysian restaurants outside SE Asia, it's very likely that they've scaled down the heat. Wherever I eat, I always ask for sambal belacan no matter what I order. (I even do that in Malaysia). Chances are you'll get something closer to sambal oelek, but at least you can use it to customize the heat to your liking.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sanur actually *is* the new name of New Taste Good, and is also the place that Laksa found the Keuh Kueh.

No, that used to be called the Malaysia-Indonesia Restaurant. It has a basement and is right on the corner of Pell St. New Taste Good was just off Bowery and was strictly a small ground-floor restaurant. I think it is (or was) 1 Doyers St.

There's also a place on Bayard that apparently just closed, New Taste Good II (I think it *used* to be Ba Ba?)

That's right.

Then there's always the Malaysian restaurants in Flushing, although I know I said I didn't want to travel that far.  I know I saw 2 on 40th street that looked like possibilities....Let me know if you know anything about them.  And in any case, thanks for the help! 

:biggrin:  --Janet

You're welcome, Janet.

I used to tout Restaurant Malaysia in Flushing but had a few blah experiences there, so while I continue to think it's a decent place if you're in the neighborhood, I haven't been back for some time and wouldn't be quick to recommend a long trip there.

I'm sure I'll try Sentosa on Prince St., Flushing some time this semester.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And Pan, that was entirely too much information - I remembered every single trip through Singapore and every single meal with every single Malaysian student or other friend  I have ever met while reading through your list!

Is that a bad thing? :laugh::raz:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...