307- Not your usual Asian fare
By Lauren Gosnell
Malaysian food is probably the most underappreciated Asian cuisine in the city. There is an abundance of Thai, Chinese, Japanese and even Korean restaurants, but the Malaysian pickings are few and far between.
A fusion of influences from the different cultural groups that inhabit Malaysia, the cuisine trades on strong Chinese, Indian and Malay flavours. So you can expect lots of noodles, curries, coconut milk and spice. It shares many similarities to Thai food.
Fortunately, there is the MataHari Grill to satisfy our quest for Malaysian cuisine. No canned or powdered curries can be found at this hot spot — chef Tricia Soo makes all of her curries from scratch.
Depending on whether a curry calls for more of an Indian or Thai flavour profile, she chops or grates fresh turmeric, galangal or lemongrass to make her own masalas.
Tricia puts her curries to good use in traditional Nyonya dishes — recipes borne by Chinese traders marrying Malay women along the Strait of Malacca as far back as the 15th century. Best among her Nyonya top sellers is the curry laksa. This bowl bathes both egg and rice noodles in an aromatic coconut curry broth. It is topped with succulent morsels of shrimp, chicken and tofu.
Another must try is the nasi lemak, a popular and genuine street eat in Malaysia. This platter is a veritable tapas of Southeast Asian delicacies — coconut rice, achar achar (pickled vegetables), spicy grilled tamarind shrimp, sambal anchovies and a hard-boiled egg.
39 Baldwin St.