Restaurants & Bars

Manhattan Asian

Oversea Asian Review with Photos and Question


Restaurants & Bars Manhattan Asian

Oversea Asian Review with Photos and Question

foodmonk | | May 3, 2007 05:21 AM

"National Foodmonk Week of Malaysian Restaurants" continues ...

I visited New Malaysia in the Chinatown Arcade on Sunday:

And on Monday, I went to Nyonya on Grand St., also in Chinatown:

In addition, I went to Udom's Thai and Indonesia Grocery, on Bayard St., where you can also buy some Malaysian food ingredients and condiments:

Yesterday, I visited Oversea Asian Restaurant at 49 Canal St., between Orchard and Ludlow, for a quick bite to eat after work.

Here is the review ...

Like New Malaysia, Oversea Asian is definitely more modestly decorated than Nyonya. Unlike New Malaysia, however, this place seems to be aspiring toward something more. The interior of the restaurant was sunny at this hour -- maybe six-thirty -- and brightly-lit and, if a single word could summon up the decor, I would say that word was "bamboo." Lots of bamboo ...

When I arrived, the small dining area in front was completely empty, save for a large round table of neighborhood guys drinking beer and reading newspapers. I was greeted prompted at the door by one of the staff -- I think that there were three people working the dining room, which was plenty, considering its size. Soon after I sat down, the place completely filled up. The other customers were all larger parties and families with kids and everyone was speaking Chinese except for me.

Staff was nice, understood English and I felt comfortable and welcome.

Here is what I ordered -- and in a bit, I'll tell you why I felt like I ordered the wrong thing:

* Roti canai
* Beef satay
* Mee goreng

Photos below ... click to enlarge.

First, the roti canai ... The roti was definitely the same make and model as served at New Malaysia. Round. Thick. Flaky. Buttery. A commenter in my previous review referred to this as the "spongy" variety, as opposed to the "fluffy" at Nyonya. It was enough identical to that at New Malaysia that I can believe that these come frozen from a factory somewhere. At the same time, I really like them and if I knew where to buy the frozen ones, I would buy them and make them at home. In short, roti was good, but not any different than what is apparently available everywhere else.

Roti was served, as everywhere else I have visited, with a small bowl of Malaysian chicken curry. This was actually a great deal better at Oversea Asian than either New Malaysia or Nyonya. It was hotter, spicier, richer ... Also a cardamon pod floating in it. Anyway, this was good.

The next item that came to the table was the beef satay. The meat was tasty, well-grilled and juicy. It arrived with a sweet peanut sauce and a pile of fresh cucumbers and red onions. I ate the cucumbers, but not the onions. The satay was good, but not something that you might go out of your way for.

Finally, I ordered mee goreng for my main course. This is the "Indian-style" plate of pan-fried noodles with tofu and shrimp in a sauce that I think contained soy and ... peanut oil? I was served a large platter of noodles -- a portion that I would make at home for four people -- easily waaaay too much food for me and I'm 6'3. The mee goreng was ... good. I think it would make good hangover food, because it was so carbohydrate-heavy and oily. But for me, it was very oily, too oily in fact. Also, it seemed somehow to lack "depth" and I ended up wondering if they had held off on the chili oil and the shrimp paste for my benefit. I filled myself up on it anyway.

As I was eating, though, I had the chance to look around and see what everyone else in the restaurant had ordered. Every single other table in the restaurant had one of two things -- or both -- on their tables: Hainanese chicken rice and/or a cast iron "hot pot" filled with one of the house stews.


I ordered the wrong things!

I would sum up my experience at Oversea Chinese as: Pretty good, with some very good moments -- notably the delicious curry sauce that came with the roti canai. But I will go again and order the dishes that the rest of the customers obviously come to the place to order, rather than the mee goreng. Also, I'll tell them that it is okay to make my stuff as spicy as what they serve to the neighborhood people.

And ...

Here is my question: Has anyone actually had much luck in telling restaurants that it is okay to make your food "normally" spicy and to not try to tone down the shrimp or fish paste for you? I like very hot stuff and I almost never get anything hot enough when I sit down in a restaurant.

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