Thursday, June 17, 2010

Malay Cafe

Tuesday I met Jane, our long-lost friend Jeana and fresh-from-France Ronnie at the Malay Cafe for lunch. Jeana used to work with us and we hadn't gotten to spend any quality time with her for quite awhile. Between catching up with her and Ronnie's tales from his trip to Paris(he brought me more cornichons...yum), we had much to catch up on...and catch up we did over some marvelous Malaysian cuisine at Malay Cafe.

I, as usual, was the untested property at Malay. The others had all been and had all raved as had many of my other friends. Malay Cafe is located in a non-descript strip mall on Barry Road. I could see how it could be overlooked...I've driven that road many times and never noticed that it was there. The food, however, inspires a cult following. Soon, I learned why...

I have to say I learned one valuable lesson eating here. If I'm going to continue to write about my favorite food havens, I need to step it up and either bring a notebook or aggressively ask my servers about ingredients(and frankly, servers got enough goin' on to have to indulge my relentless questioning)...or both. I've relied too much on returning to a restaurant's website and online menu and in this case, I've yet to find both. I had to consult a 2007 review from the Pitch for some enlightenment...God bless Charles Ferruzza.

The questioning was rebuffed right off the bat. The first item we were served was a savory and spicy broth with vegetables(pictured at right). We asked what the soup was called and what it's base was. We were emphatically told it was just "lunch soup...with Malaysian spices." So be it. Sometimes ya just gotta know when to shut up and eat.

Jane ordered two Malaysian samplers(pictured at left) which were heaping platters of deep-fried loveliness. Hearty egg rolls, tiny shrimp purses, satays, coconut shrimp and cheesy wontons were split amongst us. Jane clued me into mixing the sweet Asian chili sauce and the peanut sauce to make for some tasty dipping. These were yummy but the highlights were yet to come...

My entree was the spicy Black Pepper Beef (pictured below right) which was chock-full of tender beef in a peppery sauce with crunchy vegetables and a sizable side of jasmine and curry rice. Ronnie got the Royal Almond Chicken( pictured top center) which is the house specialty and it was wonderful....chicken in a sweet, honey-like sauce and almond slivers. Jeana's was the Mas Chicken which I believe had a black bean sauce(see? I needed a notebook). We all gave samples to each other. Truly, this was outstanding food....and the portions were enormous. My seven dollar lunch also became my dinner.

Malay Cafe's cuisine has been characterized as a mix of Chinese and Indonesian influences. I've also seen it referred to as 'Chinese with a kick.' The Malaysian spices really kick it up and I loved every bit of it. The Cult of Malay just added a new member.


Anonymous said...

Couldn't have said it better myself. Our server was also the owner, and she is usually very friendly and talkative. She seemed quite pissed last Tuesday. Looking forward to this Tuesday though.

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