The unmistakable smell of Southeast Asian spices, boiling coconut milk, and savoury curry powders had me salivating with my first breath through the threshold. Though the foggy smokiness of the place had me confused. If something was burning, at least I couldn’t smell it.
I decided to try this restaurant on a recommendation from a fellow Vancouver based food blogger, “Fat Panda”. After seeing a picture of her meal on Instagram and not recognizing the name, I made plans to go. With me was my Malaysian food loving companion. “Fat Panda” swore by the roti and laksa, which happens to be two of my favourite dishes, ones I grew up eating. So naturally I had to take her up on her suggestion. A food blogger doesn’t refer to something as being “the bomb” lightly.
It was lunch, the sun was out, and streams of light filtered into the room. This ended up highlighting the overwhelming clouds of smoke that lingered in the air.
There was not one server assigned to one table. We had three different hands seating us, taking our order, and serving us our plates. It was hardly busy with the number of servers running the floor, and the six other tables of guest seated and served. Yet you could feel that the staff were rushing. Chopsticks came dirty, we sent them back only to have them returned wet. One of the girls dropping a used fork off the stack of plates she was busing. This fell on to my guest. I simple sorry would have been the clear fix, but without a word she looked to my companion, as she waited for her to pick up the soiled utensil off the floor. I little questionable.
Any attempts to try Malaysian dishes that are new to me is foiled, when I leaf through the menu and spot my favourites immediately. At least this way I get a good reference point between the different restaurants I try.
“Roti canai”. The order comes with two pieces of the signature Malaysian soft sweet bread. The crust is pan fried to a golden crisp. And the dish is severed with a spicy curry dip. I knew this would be disappointing just by looking at it. You could see the large amount of oil glistening and shining off every fold. This definitely translated into its taste. It was good, but not what we expected. We wished for fluffy bread, over the crispy edges that we got. Luckily the curry was mild and flavourful, and as a result, the saving grace of the dish.
“Stay chicken”. Bite sized pieces of meat on skewers; marinated with lemon grass, turmeric, onions, and coriander. The four sticks per order was served with a delicious peanut sauce for dipping in. As a whole this was only good, nothing outstanding. Filling chicken, tender enough and made tastier with the sauce. You can’t go wrong with a peanut sauce. Crunchy with a hint of sweet.
The entrees came right after, with no time in between to enjoy our appetizers. We rushed our eating, less dishes got cold. All our plates were served in silence. I don’t need small talk, but a little explanation as to what is landing on our table, and a few well wishes for a good meal would be nice.
“Nasi Goreng”. A popular Malaysian style fried rice dish made with beef, shrimp, egg, tomato, and green beans. I liked the raw tomatoes segments and raw cucumber slices. This is defiantly an acquired taste. They added a crunch and a level of freshness that you just can’t get with cooked vegetables. This is a very Malaysian thing.
I never knew there were so many variations to laksa, until my visit here and the reflection of their menu. My favourite dish “laksa” so it was quite the challenge to choose between the three varieties that they serve. The “Malaysian style” is made with a stronger curry essence. The “Singaporean style” is described as being more coconuty. And the “Assam seafood” flavour was a little more sour than the others, with the taste of tamarind. I stuck with what I knew and chose the “Singapore laksa”. Spicy vermicelli with shrimps, shredded chicken, bean spouts, a boiled egg, tofu puffs, and fish cakes; all swimming in spicy coconut soup. It was delicious and one of the more authentic varieties I have tried. The portion was plentiful, the broth flavourful, and the ingredients came in an abundance.
Would I come back? – No. The trip out to New Westminster is a little far for me, especially as we have a few good Malaysian restaurants in Vancouver. Restaurants that are not only closer to my home, but with easier parking and friendlier service. However if I did, it would be to try their other two flavours of laksa.
Would I recommend it? – Yes. Their roti might not be the best, but their laksa was up there. And I suspect this may be one of the few, if not the only Malaysian option in New Westminster. Don’t deny your cravings.
Unit 103, 628 6th ave, New Westminster BC, V3M 6Z2