Fleeing the heat, we made our way to Elmhurst. We decided to give Coco a shot. I haven't had a whole lot of Malaysian or Indonesian and haven't either at all for a few years.
We started with a plate of the achat, the cold, vinegary vegetable dish. It was crisp, cool, tangy and bracing. Nothing amazing, not too well balanced, but a very good starter on a hot day.
The beef rendang, listed as "dry curry", was enjoyable, the meat tender and flavorful. The gravy did the right things, coconut, lemongrass, beef and ginger all present, just timid on all counts. Certainly good, we wished it just had more concentrated flavor
Our waitron was probably a little crazy from the heat. We'd ordered okra belachan, spicy, and she'd launched into an explanation of what okra was -- "Okra is a green veggetable,,," -- which we cut short. She asked if we wanted some meat or seafood with the okra... and ten minutes later a runner brought us a plate of eggplant belachan. We sent it away. The waitron told us we'd ordered eggplant... which we hadn't. We held firm and five minutes later got our okra. It was fresh and crisp, maybe too crisp, and sliced too coarsely. The flecks of sauce were too sparse for the big, slightly undercooked okra, resulting in something a bit on the bland, bitter side, and not noticeably spicy.
I suppose I'd go back and everything was fine, but I'd like to do better. Are they capable of more, bolder flavor? Is there a secret handshake, or should I look elsewhere? How does the Elmhurst Penang compare these days? Any others?
Another question: is this a spicy cuisine or a relatively mild one?