Malaysian Kopitiam mixes Asian dishes

When eating at Malaysia Kopitiam, you’re never really sure what type of food you’ll get. An appetizer may make you wonder if you stumbled into an unknown Indian restaurant. Your main course may make you question whether you’re in Chinatown, and your fellow diner’s entree would have you believe that you were in a Thai restaurant. Perhaps another entree may make you believe that you are in neither of the three. What you are likely to be sure of at Malaysia Kopitiam is strong service and a wide variety of foods that is mostly delicious.

On my first visit to Malaysia Kopitiam, we started with an order of Roti Canai, a stew of chicken and curry spices served alongside a fried bread called Roti, not unlike the Indian food of the same name. Roti Canai is not for the meek – its strong combination of cumin, tumeric and curry leaves packs quite a punch. But the way that the yellow curry sauce plays with the flaky slices of Roti makes the dish an excellent, homey prelude to a fancier entree.

Ordering an entree is no problem. Alongside a menu, you are presented with a binder filled with pictures of everything you could order. If you come to Malaysia Kopitiam just once, the plate not to be missed is the Memak Mee Goreng, a noodle dish with tofu and seafood. At first glance, this dish is sort of like a Pad Thai, only the strong blend of Malaysian curry spices gives it a lot more flavor than its Thai cousin. The noodles are buried under mounds of vegetables and encrusted with the same spice rub used to flavor the seafood and vegetables. Like the Roti Canai, Memak Mee Goreng is not necessarily for those averse to spice, but it?s well worth trying at least once.

A more innovative combination is the Raja Chicken. The dish starts out with a bed of crunchy, pan-fried rice-noodles graced with a sweet vinaigrette and crunchy shredded carrots and scallions. Although the lemongrass promised in the menu seemed a bit elusive, it was a fantastic base for the crispy-fried chicken with a unique sweet and sour sauce. Although this entree in no way met what my expectation of a “spicy” dish would be, it merits a try anyway.

Those who really like black pepper will like the black-pepper chicken ? subtlety does not seem the technique used with this dish. Served with scallions, onions and green bell peppers, this dish certainly belongs in the spicy column, with an overabundance of black pepper in this otherwise well-prepared dish.

The big loser of the night was the Malaysian chili shrimp, a dish which had excited me with its simple description of shrimp with egg-white, chili sauce, and garlic, but it disappointed, with a rather chemical after-taste.

Service at Malaysia Kopitiam is excellent – our patient waiter let us finish our dinner long after the restaurant had closed, and food is prepared quickly and efficiently. Prices aren’t bad either. The total bill came to less than $30.00 for two people. Its location could be better, the looming presence of a few gentleman’s clubs next door do not add anything pleasant to atmosphere.

But overall Malaysia Kopitiam is a pleasant and inexpensive way to sample a variety of Asian cuisine and still only go to one restaurant.

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