Snow falling on Malaysian food
Things that will not stop me from going out to dinner: snow, rain and cold temperatures. All of which we had one fine Saturday night when I decided to meet a friend in Elmhurst, Queens for Malaysian food. The restaurant, Taste Good Malaysian Cuisine, was just a block from the Elmhurst Avenue (M,R) subway stop, next to a park and a giant Asian supermarket with all sorts of produce stacked in crates outside.
The windows of the slim rectangular-sized restaurant were fogged up when we arrived. As I stood in the vestibule area I glanced up and down the wall at the dozens of color food photos. So helpful I said, pointing at something halfway up. That looks good. We stood waiting to sit for just a few moments. The hostess, in a sporty vest with little scottie dogs stitched on the pockets, asked us how many (two), and if we minded sharing (of course not). I did my best to eyeball the dishes at each table we walked past, trying hard not to point. I used my chin instead.
We started with roti, a crepe like pancake that came with a spicy, ungent curry dipping sauce. This dish was not long for the planet–I think we polished it off in less than five minutes. The dipping sauce, a spicy curry, had a few medium-sized lumps that I am still trying to determine through my lengthy internet research.
The one dish I knew I wanted was the kari laksa, which is a spicy curry and coconut-based soup with big fat udon-like noodles that has all kinds of fish floating in it: shrimp, fish balls, and calamari. The broth is creamy and decadently rich and the chili spice gives it a nice kick at the end of each slurp. We shared a big bowl which didn't turn out to be torture, neither the dishing out of the goods nor the fact that the whole bowl would not be mine all mine.
While digging into our soup I noticed what the couple across from us had in front of them. A plate of roasted meat, chicken i think, and a big bowl of soup filled with eggplant and other veggies. The broth looked pale, like a meat-based broth and on top of the bowl were thick planks of crispy fried skin. It was a vegetarian's nightmare but I have to admit I was a bit envious. At every asian restaurant I eat at I always wish to be joined by more people so I can try more things.
Our last two dishes were good, but not quite as delicious. The squid sambal was one note, deeply chewy squid embedded in a cement-thick slurry of a somewhat spicy deep red sambal sauce. The other dish, sizzling tofu with beef, peas, carrots and eggs, was tasty. It came to the table in an oval cast iron dish with a firecracker of noise, like in a Mexican restaurant when you order the fajitas. It was savory and sweet. The peas and carrots looked of the frozen variety, which was a bit sad. The tofu was the best part, yellow and golden it looked and tasted like custard with a nice ping of crisp on the outside.
And then we were full. We had eaten too much. We were stuffed. There were just a few minor leftovers but we opted not to take them. Then we bundled up in hat, gloves, scarves, and puffy coats and headed back out into the snow for the long trip home.