One of the board contributors wrote me concerning Queens Malaysian food, and I thought I'd answer here.
First he informed me that the Forest Hills Malay restuarant is indeed called Pinang... ok, I was wrong on that one... though I've been to the City Penang on I think it's King George Island in Malaysia. From a tourist perspective it's the place where the Expats living in Thailand go every 3 months to renew their visas. It itself is interesting and has places to eat that look just like Kelly and Ping's in Soho... ie as if Peter Lorry is liable to step out of them into the brilliant sunlight, wearing a white suit.
Now, Pinang is apparently related to Nonya in Little Italy, I'm told. Nonya is if I have the restaurant correct, also part of the Penang chain of which there are members in Soho, Uptown, Flushing and Elmhurst. Each one is different, and the one's in Queens should all be visited, and I guess that now includes the Pinang in Forest HIlls. I'll get there soon, I'm sure. But in Manhattan, I'm not so happy with them. I particularly have it in for Nonya's because I'm sure they forced the closing of one of the best restaurants I've ever been to Bunga Raja (also Malay) which was around the corner down from the speakeasy bar the one you take the basement stairs to. In any case the location is now a Phoc Bang. I've written about this before. Although I don't like Nonya's I once had a knock down drag out fight with another board writer, who says its the best Malay in town. I wouldn't take him seriously on this, except he's from the region, and therefore probably knows more than I do.
As for the Penang's and related restuarants in Queens, each is very different, as I said. The one in Elmhurst tastes just like what I ate in Malaysia when (and in those days there was maybe 2 Indonesian restuarants in NY, and no believe me no Malay restuarants) I fell in love with the cuisine in Koto Baru right over the Thai border. That's with the bats in the rafters and the bedbugs in the..., well lets drop that...but remember sometimes going to get good food in situ takes some real effort--
The Penang in Flushing is also delicious and more elaborate. Often crowded though. I usually go for my Malay food in Flushing to Curry Leaves on 40th road. Also excellent.
I was also asked about the possibility of a Chowhound dinner in a Malay restaurant, and I'm sure we will. My recommendation will be for the Penang in Elmhurst as that is much more likely to have space then the one in Flushing, but I am up to learning about other possibilities. What's this non-Penang Malay restuarant in Elmhurst which is supposed to be better? Any details? I'm there!
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