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Restaurants & Bars 4

The Island Cafe in San Mateo-review

Kim Cooper | Feb 12, 200512:44 AM

The Island Café in San Mateo; Malaysian Cuisine

This is the new Malaysian restaurant on 4th Ave (111 East 4th Ave., 650-548-1386).
We went there tonight to try it out, just the two of us, so we didn’t get to try too many things. What we had was excellent.
We were seated, given menus and then waited. The menu is long with many pictures. But we waited a little longer than we thought we should, so we were getting nervous about the place. When the waiter finally arrived, he was very nice and spoke reasonably good English.
We ordered:
Shrimp Puff appetizer
Lamb Rendang
Watercress Belacan
Singapore Fried Rice
Lychee drinks

The shrimp puffs were delicious –ground shrimp wrapped in bacon and fried. It was chewy and crispy rather than puffy and light – I loved it that way. The bacon was fairly mild and not too salty so it didn’t overshadow the shrimp flavor completely, as can happen. It was served with a tiny dish of a light yellow sauce that looked like mayo, but was lightly lemon-flavored and intriguing.
The lamb Rendang arrived, then a few minutes later the Watercress Belacan. The rice didn’t get there for some time after that.
The Lamb Rendang was wonderful – the meat tender, the sauce rich and brown, a cross between a Madras curry and a Thai curry – with lemongrass and lime leaves, but a warmer meatier flavor than Thai, and not spicy hot.
The Watercress was good: when we ordered it the waiter warned us that it was flavored with shrimp paste. The shrimp paste was no problem, but it was a bit too spicy-hot for me. And difficult to eat because of being stringy (in shape, not texture).
The fried rice was very good – the chunks of ham weren’t overly salty, the shrimp were good sized and delicate in texture, the rice was flavorful.
The Lychee drink is a favorite of mine – it’s great, if a bit too sweet for with food. There were several lychees in it, but not as many as we get at Panang Garden (on El Camino).
The service was generally good except for the long wait at the beginning.
Price before tip was $38.75, and we had enough for another meal to take home.

All in all, we were very pleased and will definitely go again – we want to try the seafood!
Anyone want to join us?

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