I am excited over the opening of the newest Malaysian restaurant in Vancouver. This restaurant could very well turn out to be the best Malaysian restaurant. From what I experienced two days ago, I think they have what it takes to be successful in the long run.
Just last week, Ron and Nancy emailed us about the impending opening of this restaurant in their neighborhood. Knowing that we from Malaysia, they asked us if we would like try it. Of course, we would. We would not pass on an opportunity like that.
The Penang Delight Cafe is located on Rupert and 22nd Avenue in Vancouver. As a matter of fact, they are located just next door to Kimura.
From the outside, I like the look of the restaurant. The lighted sign outside made sure it caught our attention. One thing that struck me was two opposing information on their signboard. On the right side, they have a tag line that says “Fine Malaysian Cuisine” but yet on the left side, there is a logo in the image of a hawker stall. I thought it was kind of funny.
I was just thinking what is with the word “Delight”. It seems like the Malaysian restaurants in Vancouver likes to use that word. I know of two other Malaysian with that word: Hawkers Delight, Cafe D’Lite and Orchid Delight.
I did not know that but apparently they were opened officially for the first day the day we were there. It was absolutely packed and there was a line up at the door.
Even though we had reservation, we had to wait 20 minutes before we had a table ready for us. So while waiting, we looked at their menu. That was when I overheard the waitresses saying they ran out of some dishes. I think they did not anticipate the volume of business on their first day.
And that is NOT good for us.
The restaurant is clean but seating are tight. This is not a big restaurant. We think it seats about 30 people, max. The manager (picture above, behind the counter) flashed his peace sign when I took the picture. He was friendly and obviously excited with the reception that they are having. When he saw me taking that shot, he came over and asked me if I am from a Chinese newspaper. I just smiled and did not say anything. Anyway, Suanne and I always had a problem explaining to people that we are bloggers because we don’t know how to say it in Chinese.
The walls are decorated with black and white photos of scenery and food from Malaysia. The manager told us that those are his pictures.
Ron and Nancy left all the ordering to me. I gladly took that responsibility. 🙂
I wanted more time to look over the menu carefully. So I decided to first order drinks.
I love their drinks. It is exactly the same way as it is served in Malaysia, right down to the Kopi-O cups. Gosh, those cups with the green flower design are from my dad’s era! The design had never changed after 50 years and it is still the same. The manager told me that he imported them from Malaysia. I like it because he wants to give it a real authentic feel.
I decided to order four different types of popular hot drinks. They are all $1.50 each and not big cups. This is the typical size served in Malaysia.
First of all I ordered Milo (we as kids call them Mee-Lok, not My-Lo). The manager said that he also ships the Milo in their 1.5kg tins from Malaysia. You can get Milo in Vancouver but it is not the same. The version in Malaysia is more creamier and more chocolaty. Thumbs up. When I was young, I always have a glass of hot Milo before I go to bed. My mum was always complaining that our consumption of Milo is so high that we can easily empty the 1.5kg tin in less than a week. I know … some of you readers in Malaysia is gonna laugh at me for getting so excited over Milo. 🙂
I also ordered the Ipoh White Coffee. You will love this uniquely Malaysia coffee. The beans are roasted with … palm oil margarine! It is not white despite the name. You should try it if you had never tried it before. You can get them in 3-in-1 instant packets to make them at home too.
The third hot drink is Teh Tarik, the famous pulled tea from Malaysia. I don’t think they actually “pull” the tea here though. See this video if you have never seen a pulled tea dance before.
The other drink is the Penang Kopi. This is really black coffee and sweetened with condensed milk … always condensed milk, never evaporated milk. Oh man, I love the way they serve this.
For those of you who do not know, Penang is the second largest city in Malaysia. That city is best known for its food which is both very good and very cheap.
The pages above is their dinner menu. Click on them to show them in full page.
The service that night was best described as chaotic. No, I don’t hold this against them because I understand that it is their first night. There were SEVERAL (not just once!) instances when they gave us dishes that we did not order.
Then we overheard them telling other tables that they had either ran out of the more popular dishes or that they did not manage to get some of the dishes ready in time. So as we decide what we wanted, we thought the best strategy was to pick more dishes than we want and prioritize them.
It turned out to be a sound approach because a lot of our first choices were not available. It was very embarrassing for the manager to say “sorry” so many time.
Assam Laksa –> sorry!
Pan Mee –> sorry!
Penang Char Koay Teow –> sorry!
Bah Kut Teh –> sorry!
Loh Mein –> sorry!
Of the ones above, I so wanted to try Pan Mee and Loh Mein. These are two dishes I had not tried in Vancouver before. So you can imagine how excited I am to see that they have this on their menu even though I did not manage to have it.
The Penang Prawn Noodle ($9) was recommended by manager as a replacement for the Asam Laksa they did not have. It’s a poor replacement but I said OK.
Turned out that it was a GOOD replacement. This tasted a lot like the ones made in Penang although the color of the broth is darker than I am used to. What I love most about this is the fried shallots. You can’t really see it but you can certainly taste it.
The broth is a bit too sweet but at least it was spicy enough and has a very shrimpy taste.
The fresh yellow noodle along with hard boiled egg, vegetable, shrimp and shrimp paste makes a quite an authentic package. It is still not exactly the same but I have not come across one in Vancouver that is close to this. Very nice!
I told the manager that they MUST have kangkong as the vegetable and not that green leafy thingy they gave as a substitute. The prawns were a whole piece when they should slice it lengthwise.
The manager also recommended that we get their Cantonese Chow Fun ($9). This dish you can get in many places … but … not many places will make it the way it is supposed to be made.
The flat rice noodle and vermicelli had to be fried separately first. Then the pork, vegetable and egg gravy is cooked before they pour this over the two noodles. That way the noodles are crispy. You have to eat it quick before the gravy turns the noodles soggy and soft.
The manager call this the feminine version of the popular fried noodles. Since we had the feminine version, we must have the masculine version.
He said the masculine fried noodles is the Hokkien Mee ($9). I had never heard of the feminine/masculine analogy before. I think he made it up.
Anyway, the Hokkien Mee is somewhat like Shanghai Noodles as we know it here in Vancouver. However it is not the same. The difference is in the sauce. You need the dark soy sauce to make this and it is difficult to find in Vancouver.
Frankly, this version from Penang Delight is just so-so. Suanne make a much more better version at home. I am not kidding. She had posted the recipe for the Hokkien Mee before in this post here.
I told the manager that this is not up to par. The manager did say that they had to use udon to make this dish. Moreover the sauce was too liquidy, and they should be more caramelized and thicker.
But at least they had the most important ingredient. In Cantonese, we call it Jee-Yau-Jar! 🙂
Fried pork fat! But theirs is too tiny and not crisp enough. They should ask Suanne how to make it the right way.
The Hokkien Mee and the Cantonese Char Fun has to be served with sambal chili. Gosh, I had to ask for it. This is like serving fried eggs without ketchup … something like that.
On their menu, a saucer of sambal sauce costs $1. That is expensive. Sambal Chili has to be free. I mean, you don’t see restaurants charge for ketchup do you?
Anyway, the manager gave us some and he did not charge us for it.
We also had the Nasi Rendang Chicken ($11). It is strange. Their menu has Chicken Rendang but no beef version. Rendang is primarily cooked with beef in Malaysia. I would love to know why they don’t offer beef.
Moreover the menu says that it is pan-fried chicken (in lemon grass, curry, garlic, coconut milk gravy). As far as I know rendang meat is not pan fried but it is cooked for hours until the curry is dried up.
Nevertheless, this dish is pretty good. We like it but it is also hard to share between the four of us because there is only one piece of chicken.
The Roti Canai ($6) … no good.
You can see that it is not flaky which is a big no-no. It is however sweet tasting.
We were surprised to see how cheap the bill was.
It was until we realized that they left out the Nasi Rendang Chicken. I was wondering if I should quickly pay up and get out of the restaurant doubly quick … you know …
.. like this “Get The Car” commercial from IKEA.
I was not smart and pointed it out to them. Then suddenly, it became too expensive.
Actually their food is not cheap. It is about $1 more than I think they should charge. Their portions is small too.
Anyway, despite this, I will definitely go back to try items that they didn’t have on the first day like Assam Laksa, Pan Mee, Penang Chow Koay Teow, Bah Kut Teh Hot Pot, and Loh Mein.
I shall return.