malaysian


cheap beer

If you can read Chinese, you will understand the sign at the bottom half of the whiteboard that got my friends all excited. They kind of missed the point of being at Skyway, touted to be the best malaysian restaurant on the island by alot of chowhounders, but its reassuring to know that even if the food the food disappointed, we would always have inexpensive beer. rendang

Luckily for us, Skyway does serve some decent chow that is on par with the tze char stores I sometimes frequent when at home in Singapore. That is admirable because Skyway’s menu is at least twice as long as a regular hawker store that tends to specialize. You seldom find a shop in Singapore or Malaysia that sells rendang along with oyster omelette, but you have that in Malaysian food restaurants overseas who have to cater to every form of culinary homesickness. Usually it means some dishes are dunces, but we must have ordered well because both the beef rendang, slow-cooked to melting softness in a rich, piquant sauce, and the oyster omelette studded generously with plump, fresh oysters were extremely well-received. We were also pleased with the char kway tiao that was coated in oil and sweetish yu shengblack sauce, had a springy bite and suffused with the “parfum de wok”; a soon-hock (marbled goby, a freshwater fish commonly found at Chinese dinners in SE Asian) cooked two ways, its head immersed in a spicy curry broth and its body simply steamed cantonese-style; and a deep-fried yam basket filled with sauteed vegetables and seafood.

I felt compelled to order the yu-sheng, a celebratory raw fish salad created in Singapore and Malaysia couple decades ago, it being Chinese New Year and all, and it was overpriced good fun as expected as my friends and I tossed the profusion of colorful vegetables with the 10 odd slices of thinly sliced salmon and abalone into the air while half-heartedly muttering some auspicious sayings. It should be disclosed too that while the lady was extraordinarily accomodating for a chinatown establishment, she also did her best to upsell us some special New Year dishes that have slightly higher margins. Besides the yu-sheng, we did get the fish (30-40% of our total food bill) and a huge chicken dish with vegetables, stuffed mushrooms and an ostentatiously lucky-sounding title that was tasty, but probably no more so than if we had gotten a platter of plain old hainanese steamed chicken at half the price. And a deep-fried squid dish was pretty tasteless. But with so many rights offsetting a couple of wrongs, its not difficult to imagine another visit to Skyway in the very near future.

Skyway Malaysian Restaurant

11 Allen St (near Canal St)

(212) 625-1163

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Malaysian food that is…
Its funny how I do not hunger for Singapore/Malaysian food for about half a year, and the moment I eat it once, I need to get my fix on a weekly basis. Its not a very healthy addiction, but luckily in Manhattan, with a shocking abundance of Malaysian restaurants, its easily fed.
Yanru and I met up on Saturday to get Rosie a housewarming gift. Brunch however, was first on our minds, with the gift being more of an afterthought. Yanru had initially suggested crepes and coffee at cafe le gamin in east village, but I made her “reconsider her suggestion ” and go to Sanur (aka New Indonesia & Malaysia Restaurant) after she bragged about the cheap and good meal at Sanur she had on thursday night, complete with nonya kueh and pandan cake for dessert and breakfast the morning after. So we decided to get our butts out of our apartments early to grab some good old local breakfast, preferably fried beehoon drenched in vegetable curry.
Unfortunately, people in Chinatown eat breakfast a lot earlier than we do and by the time we got to Sanur, no later than 11 am too, the bee hoon was gone… =( It was dirt cheap too at $1.75…. I was muy upset…
We drowned our sorrows instead by downing cheap coffee and eating too much nonya pastries and other stuff. I forgot to take pictures but we ate: lor mai kai, curry puffs, some nasi kuning thingy with ikan bilis, a glutinous rice kueh with gula melaka, and kueh lapis (the colorful one, not the indonesian type) With all that glutinous rice we had, we were quickly sated. Still, I’m hankering for the beehoon that had escaped from my gluttonous clutches and will probably be back soon to get my hands on it.
p.s. the curry puffs were really good, better than Old Chang Kee in fact, and travels very well.. And cheap, for $0.70/piece… convert tt back to SGD and its still comparable to OCK. The 2 I carried in my purse for a day made for a squashed but very tasty snack after being warmed in the oven.

Sanur
18 Doyers St (a very charming, winding street)


Restorant Malaysia looks nondescript from the outside, tucked in the middle of a busy row of restaurants serving anything from taiwan beef noodles to foo chow fishballs. The shop front is narrow and the window was grimy from years of soot, soot created from the satay and stingray freshly barbeque-ed in the front of the restaurant. It is not a very attractive looking restaurant and you would walk right past it if you were not hankering for some authentic Malaysian grub, and Ruoying and I almost gave it a miss. Still, the lure of sambal kangkong and roti prata proved to be too much for two homesick Singaporeans and we walked in to find ourselves ordering way too much and with each bite, connecting what we see, eat and smell with events that happened long ago, linking each dish with places and faces we miss.
We shared a plate of hokkien fried noodles, malaysia styled; hakka style pearl noodles; bbq-ed stingray and finally a plate of sambal kangkong. The dishes were extremely flavorful, smelling of parfum de wok, the wok scent that you find at good zi-char places. The hokkien fried noodles reminded us of saturday lunches in Singapore, with Pa wielding the wok and cooking up enormous amounts of the same noodles in dark gooey sauce. The grilled stingray tasted like those at East Coast Park, plump, succulent and the perfect foil for the huge dish of sambal belacan that came with it. Ruoying was so excited to see the pickled green chillies that by the time we were done with dinner, we had eaten half a bowl of green chillies with our noodle dishes. We could have easily finished everything there, but great discipline restrained ourselves from becoming even bigger girls than we already are and brought most of the kangkong home.
Back home tody, we decided to complemented the kangkong, which by the way microwaves very well with homemade nasi lemak, fried egg and luncheon meat. Its strange how food ties people and places together, and the wave of nostalgia and the regret from being so far from home has not been so strong in a while. Maybe its a good thing that the restaurant’s in Flushing and not anywhere closer and the Malaysian restaurants in Manhattan are not nearly as authentic, or else I might be flooded with homesickness everytime i visit!