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Penang's Deep Deep Menu

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Penang's Deep Deep Menu

zim | Jun 9, 2003 01:07 PM

I guess the all the talk about Penang recently got me hungry to retry this spot, and we hit it Sunday for lunch. The problem and also the great thing at Penang is that there is so many interesting things on that menu. It may make for a great chowhound dinner where a lot of things could be ordered and dishes tried. We didn’t have that many with us yesterday but we did our best. Below is what we ate with some notes about them. You’ll see a lot of the classic dishes, rendang, roti canai, Hainan chicken, but from our experience yesterday I really think that Penangs’s menu is very deep and there’s a lot of good stuff aside from the “classics”. In fact, I’m not sure that either the rendang or the Hainanese chicken would make the cut next time we visit

Standout Dishes

Tofu Nyonya
Described on the menu as “Deep fried bean curd, with minced pork, red peppers and basil leaves in Chef’s special sauce”. Really great dish. flavors kind of a cross between Taiwanese basil dishes at Mei-Shung and favorite Chinese-thai dishes. Not mentioned in the description were bits of nicely chewy squid as textural counterpoint to tofu in the thick brown sauce

Spicy and salted soft shell crab
Soft Shell crab are pretty much my dad’s favorite eating and this was among his favorite soft shell crab dishes anywhere. I expected to get a prep similar to the salt& pepper seafood one gets at Chinese places, the but the batter had been coated with a more involved spicy sauce that agreed very well with the natural soft shell flavors

Roti canai
Penang’s roti/pratha is very good, delicate, layered, almost fluffy, we only wished we had more of it to dip in the very good accompanying chicken curry

Good but might not make the cut next time

Achat
Though listed on the menu as a pickle, this is more like a salad of green mango, and vegetables in peanut sauce. It was pretty tasty and a nice counterpoint to a lot of the dishes

Beef Rendang
VI’s favorite, which was fairly tasty though I would have wished it to have been cooked down more to darken the sauce and concentrate the flavors and get the meat to falling apart tenderness. I also would have liked a little more spice to it. To be fair it may have suffered from comparison to a very tasty rogan josh I made at home recently that has many of the same flavors. Those of you who sampled the Keralan Beef Fry would also find quite a lot of similarities.

Hainan Chicken Rice
Deceptively simple dish with the skin-on chicken steamed to just the right point and not a second farther. I’ve heard Singaporeans rave about this dish at Penang, and I quite enjoyed this and the accompanying dipping sauces but others preferred the more strongly flavored dishes

Roti Tellur
Same dipping chicken curry as roti canai but served with a sort of omelet of onion and chili. All preferred the canai as vehicle for chicken curry dipping

Kacang Pendur Belacan
“String beans with Malaysian shrimp paste” I enjoyed the deep funk of the belecan on the crunchy beans, and it is pretty deeply funky, my mom complained of the smell pretty much from the point it arrived at the table

Eggplant Dish (Eggplant Sambal?)
I was away from the table when this was added on to our order and it isn’t on the linked menu, but in a lot ways similar to the above string beans but with fried tender eggplant substituted for crisp string beans. I think it may have been from the sambals section which isn’t on the menu

Pretty Sure I Won’t Order next time

Popiah
This veg. Spring roll really didn’t do much for me or anyone yesterday

Gyoza
Well I might order this again, these were ordered for the kids off the sushi menu and one of them did a pretty good job on them. They had a very nice texture but we couldn’t tell any difference in meat content between the pork or vegetable ones

Semi-standard disclaimer:
I have no idea if any of these dishes is “authentic” and I don’t have a ton of Malaysian food eating under my belt, but there was some pure tastiness present

I’ve attached a link to an Amazon scan of their menu, but I think that it has changed somewhat and expanded since it was scanned – there were a number of sambals now available which aren’t on this menu, nor is the soft shell crab

Link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASI...

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