Like most chowhounds, one of the things I look for in an ethnic restaurant is "authenticity". Many restaurants adapt and tone down their dishes in an attempt to cater to North American tastes. Think of all those "Thai" restaurants that don't use fish sauce, or "Sichuan" restaurants that don't use sichuan peppercorn, or "Japanese" restaurants that use Chinese ingredients and thus end up with food tasting un-Japanese.
Here in Vancouver, we are lucky in that we have a large and diverse number of adventurous diners seeking "the real thing"....and are willing to tell their waiters that they want their food done "properly." For the most part, Vancouver diners have set a pretty high bar for authenticity relative to other major cities....thus we are blessed with some excellent ethnic fare. And for the most part, this ethnic fare is served up by family run restaurants who are in a constant struggle for survival.
Seri Malaysia Restaurant has the requisite authenticity that I seek. Chef Jamal (former co-proprietor of the original Kedah House), is emphatic that his food taste "proper"...that means the right techniques, ingredients, saltiness and pungency (from dried and fermented seafood). The room and service are spartan and typical of a family-run business.
We ordered the roti canai, nasi goreng with dried anchovies, spicy garlic prawns, chicken satay, kuey teow noodles, and we finished off with ice bandung (rose milk), and cendol. The flavours were robust and definitely authentic. The roti canai was expertly made and flakey. The portions were huge.
Jamal commented that this Hastings St. location is a real challenge for him. He has been looking for more appropriate locations along more food friendly streets with more foot traffic - like Commercial Drive.
Support small ethnic restaurants...Check out Seri Malaysia.
Seri Malaysia Restaurant
2327E Hastings St E, Vancouver, BC V5L1V6, CA
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