We were in Surrey this evening and seeing as we made the trip out, we decided to take advantage of our locale by visiting “Manis”, a Pan Asian restaurant in Whalley. My guest learned about it from another trusted blogger’s review: Sherman of @shermansfoodadventures. And I am always down to try any restaurant that celebrates food and the cuisine that I grew up with, hailing from South East Asia.

Tucked away amongst high rises, on a slower street, it isn’t easy to spot; you need to know of it to know where to go. The inside of this two storey property is set up fairly cozy, like a local cafe. Artificial vines wrapped around the room and vinyls of leaves adhered, helped to round out the woodsy theme. Empty walls were filled with framed photos of their menu items; this I found to be an easier way to order, than simply reading off their written menu with a few scattered photos. With only a few diners and no music overhead, you eat to the sounds of a humming fan and whizzing machinery. Not the type of place you want to linger and enjoy at. More eat and go, or take out.

Seeing as ”Manis” was Sherman’s recommendation, we also ordered what he suggested, like the “Singapore laksa”. This was a little too bland for my tastes, I grew up with laksa having plenty of fermented shrimp paste. Shrimp paste not only gives the broth spice, tang, and kick; but it also uplifts its accompanying ingredients as well. I didn’t get it here with the rice vermicelli, chicken, shrimp, tofu puffs, boiled egg, bean sprouts, and shrimp based coconut cream soup. The soup was creamy and the flavour nice, but this was not my favourite rendition of the popular noodle soup.

I liked the “Beef nasi lemak” more and found it more authentic. Malaysian rendang beef curry, coconut rice, egg, pickled vegetables, peanuts, and anchovy samabl. A choose your own adventure in a meal. You pick and curate your perfect bite, balancing the tough beef with fragrant coconut milk infused rice; or the spicy pickles and fresh cucumber, with tangy anchovy.

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I wouldn’t drive all the way to Surrey for this. Nor would I necessarily go out of my way to try more of it when the area. It was home style cooking, good but I can’t help comparing to my mother’s cooking that I grew up with and prefer. Don’t deny your cravings.

MANIS
10768 Whalley Blvd #116, Surrey, BC V3T 0B7
604) 497-1778
manisrestaurant.com