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Malaysian Hut Restaurant on 108 Ave and 148 St, Surrey

We would normally have not contemplated on travelling so far for food knowing that there are so many great places around. But we did. We went from Richmond to the Guildford area in Surrey in search of the Malaysian Hut Restaurant last week.

It is not that we had never been to Malaysian Hut before. We were there almost 5 years ago and did blog about them in one of the earliest blog posts (see link here). The reason why we made that trek to Surrey was because of the comments made on the Penang Delight post. That post drew an amazing 108 comments! Many of the comments urged us to go check out the Malaysian Hut Restaurant again.

And so we did.

The Malaysian Hut Restaurant is located on 108th Avenue and 148th St in Surrey. With an address like that it should be easy to find. However, spotting this from the street is not as easy. We drove past this place because we were looking out for a place that looked like a restaurant. Instead, it is located in a block of industrial building.

The Malaysian Hut Restaurant sure looked much better today compared to what we remembered the last time we were here. It looked like they had just recently painted the inside a bright orange and this gives the place a nice warm glow. There are a few faux Malaysian decor of wood carvings which looked more Thai than it is Malaysian but we had gotten used to it. Many Malaysian restaurants just put up decorations from South East Asia and passing it off as Malaysian because most people would not know better anyway.

The restaurant seats about 30 people max. It has been operating here for 12 years already. It does say a lot about the longevity of the restaurant isn’t it? I read somewhere recently that restaurants lasts about 10 years on the average in Vancouver. I was surprised when I first heard it because 10 years is not a long time to put ones heart and soul into running a restaurant.

As we walked in, we could smell the aroma of belacan. That is a good sign! To us it is aromatic but I do understand why some who are not familiar with Malaysian cooking would describe it as pungent odor and not aromatic. LOL!

It was very quiet on a Saturday afternoon when we were there. We were the only customers until much later when another group came in.

You may click on menu page above to show a larger image.

Malaysian Hut Restaurant menu is not very big. The items are mostly general Malaysian dishes that you find other restaurants with a few rarer items such as Gado-Gado, Pulut Panggang, and Penang Ha Mee.

Check out the Specialty Orders section on the third page above. There are four items that require one day advance order and that includes Bah Kut Teh, Sambal Belacan Kangkung, Popiah and Sambal Brinjal. I can understand that Popiah part (because of the number of ingredients that need to be made fresh) but the other dishes are quite common on other restaurant’s common menu.

The owner of the restaurant is from Miri, Sarawak in East Malaysia. This restaurant is a Chinese Malaysian restaurant like most Malaysian restaurants are in Metro Vancouver with the exception of Kedah House and Seri Malaysia.

The prices are reasonable. Most of them are below $10 a dish.

The Roti Canai is $4. It was delightfully authentic, flaky and crispy as what a good roti canai is meant to be. However, it was also disappointingly … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Dakshin Indian Cuisine on King George Highway and 80th, Surrey

Updated: 21st June 2012: This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com

At my place of work, we have a number of contract staff from India. They had been with the company for over a year already. A couple of weeks ago I bumped into them at the coffee machine. We chatted and of course I had to ask them this question “what is the most memorable Indian food you had ever tried in Vancouver?”

I still remember a long time ago when I had dinner with Michelle. Michelle is a another foodie who follows chowtimes but she hardly participated in comments. She knows her food and travels the world in search of good food (I like her lifestyle!). Well, knowing that she is familiar with East Indian cuisine, I asked her the same sort of question … “Is there a very good Indian Cuisine restaurant in Vancouver?” She could rattle off names of a lot of other type of restaurants … and she couldn’t come up with one that is Indian.

Yet another friend, also East Indian, said that it is hard to find really authentic home made Indian food too. He was telling me that the perennial Vancouver favourite, the butter chicken, is so westernized that he hardly want to try them in restaurants. He said that many restaurants will cream up the curries with whipped cream.

Yeah … there is so little I know about authentic Indian food although I grew up with Malaysian food which is heavily influenced by South Indian cuisine.

Back to the contract staff at the coffee machine …

Their answer to my question was unanimously “Dakshin”. My question launched them into an excited description of why Dakshin is their favourite restaurant. I enjoyed that conversation as obviously these guys are passionate about food as much as I do.

All of them are from South India and two of the more vocal ones are from the city of Hyderabad. They gave me a crash course on Hyderabadi cuisine saying Dakshin is an authentic Hyderabadi restaurant and the restaurant makes the food like they have at home in Hyderabad. The one dish they spoke so much about was the Hyderabadi Biryani.

So for the entire week, each time I bumped into them at the coffee machine, we were mostly talking about Indian cuisine and Dakshin’s dishes.

By the time Suanne and I got the chance to go to Dakshin on our Friday date night, I felt I already know what I wanted to order.

Dakshin is a long drive from home. It is in Surrey, a part of the Lower Mainland that I hardly go to. I am very sure that there are a lot of good restaurants but I know so little of the place. Anyway, Dakshin is located on King George Highway at the intersection with 80th Avenue. It’s easy to find.

Dakshin is a nice big and spacious restaurant. It is clean; a little dim with soft lights. Sorry, I color corrected the picture above and it turned out to be brighter than it is. LOL!

It was quite empty on that Friday night. Despite the size of the restaurant which can seat … ooh … 60-70 people at least, there were only 3 other parties.

We were initially served by a young Indian girl. She was soooo soft spoken and shy. I asked too many questions and she appeared unsure in her replies. So she got someone else to help us — a guy who seems in charge of the floor that night. He was really helpful and obliging with all the dumb questions I had. He was also very knowledgeable too.

Click on pix above if you can’t read the small prints.

Here is a bit more info … the name Dakshin simply means “South”. This restaurant specializes on food from Hyderabad and Chattinad. The waiter told us that they spare no effort in making their famous Biryani the way it is uniquely done in Hyderabad — no corners cut. He also told us that their chef is a chef who used to work in the Taj Palace (it’s a hotel, not a palace BTW) in Hyderabad. I thought the way he said it like its a big deal adding that the Taj hotels and palaces are the finest hotels in India.

The waiter also told us that Dakshin is one of only two Hyderabadi restaurants in Metro Vancouver. The other one is also owned by them a few blocks away which serves crepes and snacks. Dakshin had been operating for the last 1.5 years already — so, pretty newish.

They don’t have a big menu. Just four pages of it. Captivating.

Their prices are OK — not too expensive. The Indian contract staff at my office told me that they had recently lowered their prices because at one point it was very expensive. For instance, the Biryani is $12 now. It used to be $14-$15.

A few days before my visit, I mentioned about Dakshin on vanchow. Someone took a look at their menu and pointed out that they even have Chinese (eg. Chicken Corn Soup) and North Indian food (eg. Butter Chicken) on their menu … that kind of watered down Dakshin’s claim to being authentic Hyderabad. So I just HAD to take this “issue” up with our waiter. He laughed and told us that he just had to put in a bit of everything to cater to more people’s taste — a fact of life in Vancouver’s restaurants.

Other than the Biryani, the other highly recommended dish from my colleagues at work is the Chicken 65. This is one interesting dish.

Chicken 65 is traditionally eaten as an appetizer. But what an appetizer. This is $9 but there are so much chicken in this that you might as well have this as an entree.

The origin of the name Chicken 65 is interesting. There are no such thing as a Chicken 64 or a Chicken 66 and yet in Indian if you ask for Chicken 65, everyone knows what it is. Don’t try to ask them why the name because everyone would have their own version on how the name came about.

So I checked this up in Wikipedia. Here are some of the possible origins:

  • It is made with 65 ingredients
  • It is made with 65 types of chili
  • It originally costs 65 rupees
  • Each piece should weigh 65 grams (unlikely)
  • It was invented in 1965
  • It takes 65 days to make the marinade
  • The chicken used must be 65 days old
  • The most interesting one is this. Some Indian troops from the north were stationed in the southern part of the country. They couldn’t speak the local language but they love the item #65 on the menu of this particular restaurant. So they always ordered Chicken 65.

Like I said, there is no Chicken 64 or Chicken 66. However, the waiter told me that there is a Mutton 56. LOL!

Lovely, is how I would simply describe Chicken 65. This is a perfect appetizer with the right flavour that you don’t need this with rice or bread. The chicken is boneless and it is batter fried … so it does give a nice crunch and a light crisp but at the same time not at all like fried chicken. It is moist … spicy with a hint of tanginess. That spiciness leaves a nice lingering heat on the lips. We love it and couldn’t stop munching on them.

THIS … this is what the folks in the office was raving about.

And I want to say up front that I never had Biryani this good. The name is Hyderabadi Dum Ki Lamb Biryani and it is $11. If you come to this restaurant, this is the only dish you need to order if you just want only one thing. You can have the chicken version but lamb is the way to go.

The million dollar question I had to the waiter was “So what makes this so great?”. His eyes brightened up and went on to explain that there is nothing like this on this earth (he he he … don’t they always say that?). He explained in such minute details in such quick speed that some of it went swoosh over our head.

Here is what makes it such a big deal: More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Five Guys Burgers and Fries in South Surrey

It was Wils who told us that Five Guys opened their second outlet. And I knew it was where we wanted to bring the boys to because they love burgers. OK fine … they don’t like that mum and dad always brings them to Asian restaurants.

This time I did not tell them where we were going out for dinner. I just told them it is a long drive and that we are going to Surrey.

“Surrey?!?” they both exclaimed, knowing Surrey is the direction to the Canada-US border.

“Yeah” I said, “not only Surrey … it’s SOUTH Surrey”.

And then I had to get lost on the way. The iPhone battery died and I was relying on that for navigation. So, I went round and round until I found 160th Street. To them it was not funny. :-)

I had never been to this part of the world before. I mean, I drove past this place on the way to the US border crossing. I am just impressed how built up this whole place is. They have every big box stores you can think of.

When we arrived, they were happy to see that it’s a burger joint. At least it is not another Asian restaurant after driving so far.

Have you ever seen the video above before? It is not surprising that Obama goes to Five Guys for burgers since Arlington (minutes away from Washington DC is the where Five Guys first started.

Anyway, take note of Obama’s order number at about 1:20 into the video.

For a supposedly upscale burger restaurant, the decor is a bit sparse. The whole theme is blood red and white with double checkered motifs.

Like in most Five Guys restaurants, they stack bags and bags of potatoes and boxes of peanut oil in the dining area.

Unlike other burger places, they have free peanuts which is stacked inconspicuously on the boxes of peanut oil. They are meant for you to snack on while you wait for the burger to be made. I think it is a good idea.

The peanuts are salted. Nice but I had better, crunchier ones. Am not complaining though since they are free … sort of.

Click on the image above to enlarge the menu. It is a very simple menu … but kind of expensive.

You get either the plain hamburger, with cheese and/or bacon. The standard size is double patties. The “little” ones are single patties.

It is the toppings that is kind of wild. They have 15 to choose from and they are free with the burger.

The ones that they call “All The Way” includes Mayo, Lettuce, Pickles, Tomatoes, Grilled Onions, Grilled Mushrooms, Ketchup and Mustard.

Then there are the “Everything” which also includes Relish, Onions, Jalapeno Peppers, Green Peppers, A1 Sauce, BBQ Sauce and Hot Sauce.

I don’t know about you, but for me it is too much to think over each and everyone … same goes for Suanne. We just ask for EVERYTHING. Arkensen and Nanzaro is more adept in choosing the toppings. They just choosed 4 types of toppings. I just had to tell them “get everything, they’re free”.

So the above is our order. Four burgers, a large fries and drinks came up to $45. I dunno … I find it expensive for burgers.

Oh remember I asked you to remember Obama’s order number? Well, his number is … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Tasty Sweets and Restaurant in Surrey

There was a four-page spread on the newspaper the other day on lunch for under $10. We love these type of articles. It’s because we always try to find new places to eat out every week. Sometimes, we just plain run out of ideas.

Since it was a long weekend last week, we decided to travel a bit further for food. We ended up in Surrey’s Tasty Sweets and Restaurant, located on 12047, 80th Avenue. It’s one of those Indian restaurants that has a side counter where they sell all kinds of traditional Indian sweets.

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We went for the Buffet Lunch which costs $8.99 per person. The spread was not a lot but it most certainly made up for the lack of quantity with quality. The main items on the buffet are:

  • Butter Chicken
  • Chicken Tandoori
  • Chilli Paneer
  • Palak Paneer
  • Channa Masala
  • Goat Masala

Not a lot right? But the quality certainly did not disappoint us at all. They use the best of spices and meat.

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The naan were served hot off the clay oven. It was still hot when they come by every now and then asking if we needed more. They were one of the best naan we have ever tried — and it goes very well with the butter chicken and chilli paneer gravy. The naan were soft and fluffy.

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For dessert, they had Gulab Jaman which is dried milk cream, deep fried and served warm with sugar syrup. This was really sweet.

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We had a good meal although as always we ended stuffing ourselves so much we simply had to skip dinner again. If you happen to be in the neighborhood, I highly recommend this place.

Tasty Sweets and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Malaysian Hut Restaurant

Man shall not live by bread alone …
~ Moses

Today, we were invited by Bernie and his family to try out a Malaysian restaurant in Surrey. Bernie hails from the Pearl of the Orient, Penang. The restaurant we went to is called Malaysian Hut and is managed by Irene Chang, a baba-nyonya, from Sibu, Sawarak. Irene is a very friendly person who came out and chatted briefly with us. The restaurant has been operating at the 108th Avenue for more than five years. They have a mini website at http://www.malaysianhut.ca/ and was featured twice recently in The Province. Anyway, Irene is the tall one in the picture below.

Malaysian Hut Restaurant

We decided to order different types of dishes for sharing so that we all get the chance to try out varieties. So, we ordered Char Koay Teow, Hainanese Chicken Rice, Curry Laksa and Asam Laksa. The servings were pretty generous. Of all the dishes, the Char Koay Teow and the Hainanese Chicken Rice are the most popular. We ordered an extra serving of rice because there were more chicken leftover.

Arkensen and Nanzaro rated the Char Koay Teow a “five”. For me, I will rate the Char Koay Teow a little lower. It is because that dish does not have the two MOST important ingredients: crispy fried lard (gee yow jar) and cockles. Anyway, I have not come across Char Koay Teow so far in Vancouver that has these two ingredients. It is perhaps because Vancouverites are just plain afraid of Hepatitis and clogged arteries! :-) I will grudgingly give it a 4.5.

The best Char Koay Teow I have tasted was the stall behind the Selangor Emporium in Jalan TAR … I wonder if that stall is still around. Let me know your favourite place for Char Koay Teow, especially one that has “gee yow jar” and raw cockles!

The Curry Laksa is OK but I think it will be much better if it is spicier. Curry Laksa is supposed to be so spicy that you sweat eating it. I must say that the Asam Laksa is pretty disappointing. I guess it’s because the lai fun was substituted with thin vermicelli. Also, we normally expect Asam Laksa to have shredded cucumber, pineapple, onion, asam paste and sardines.

Thanks to Bernie, Janice, Ignatius and Cornelius for buying this lunch. It was great meeting up with you all again.

Malaysian Hut Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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