Mar 24, 2010

Curry Fish Head & Roti Canai


I am a food snob when it comes to Malaysian food or Penang food. It’s hard not to be one when you were born and raised in Penang. We are just too lucky as great foods are plentiful.

There are more and more Malaysian restaurants in the US these days but it’s sad to say that most of them don’t do justice to Malaysian food. Belacan Grill is one of the few Malaysian restaurants that does things right and I would recommend you to go there if you want to taste what Malaysian food is really all about…

Roti Canai / Roti Prata

Roti Canai is a very popular breakfast or late-night supper in Malaysia. We usually eat Roti Canai over a glass of teh tarik at roadsidemamak stalls that are scattered all around Malaysia. There are two ways of eating roti canai: dipping them in curry sauce or with sugar. In the United States, Malaysian restaurants serve them with curry sauce, and sometimes they are called Roti Prata. The Roti Canai at Belacan Grill was almost 100% authenthic in the sense that it was thicker instead of the typical crispy kind found elsewhere. The curry sauce that came with it was also very well-cooked and flavorful. I particularly liked it that the curry sauce was cooked with indian leaves so it had this aroma that was signature in all Malaysian curries. I wonder where they got those curry leaves!

Fish Head Curry

Next up was Curry Fish Head. I am never a big fan of Curry Fish Head, but it won me over as the dish was loaded with all my favorites: tomato wedges, fried tofu cut in pieces, okra, and green beans. It was like eating my mother’s curry. Too bad the fish head was not really a fish head, instead the head were cut into pieces. But overall, the curry paired well with our rice. It was spicy, hot, and very tasty.

Kangkung Belacan is a famous dish in and outside of Malaysia; in fact, a lot of people from Hong Kong came to know about Malaysian cuisine and Belacan (shrimp paste) through this dish. Naturally, we just had to order it and it was no disappointment even though the belacan was definitely on the mild side but the chef used a lot of dried shrimp to kick it up a notch. Personally, I love dried shrimp and thought the dish had a nice balance of taste, texture, spices, and aroma. It was great!

Whenever I go to a Malaysian restaurant, I always order Char Kway Teow as a litmus test if the restaurant is authenthic Malaysian. The Char Kway Teow at Belacan Grill was probably the best this part of the world. The only thing missing from it was cockles, which are hard to get in the US, so I gave it a 9.5! The taste still lingers in my mouth.

The least interesting dish that night was probably the Belacan Crab, even though it was touted as aMUST TRY on the menu. Don’t get me wrong, I love crabs but the cooking wasn’t that different from the typical Salt and Pepper Crab you get in Chinese restaurants. I wished they cooked the crab Malaysian style, that is, “Kam Heong” (translate literally to “Golden & Aromatic“) style, or sauteed with black pepper and butter (Black Pepper Crab), or Chili Crab. Also, it was over-fried so the flesh was sticking to its shell, which made it hard to eat.

On our way out, we ran into the male owner of Belacan Grill and we had a chat about their food. Mr. Owner told us to go back and requested that we asked for him the next time we go to Belacan Grill. He lured us with “dishes not on the menu and more authentic specialties. I can’t wait to go back and give you my complete report.



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