I recently compiled this list - the most comprehensive anywhere I think - and given the recent interest in Malaysian cuisine figured chowhounders would appreciate it. The original document (in Word XP) is much prettier with pictures of my favorite dishes, commentary, etc. I plan to put this on a blog sometime. I could be wrong about the Banana empire - let me know if I am. Links were current as of 4/1/05.
So what is Malaysian food? Its what happens when Malay, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Portuguese & Indonesian cuisines come together and collide happily in a mélange of interesting and flavorful curry, rice and noodle dishes. It is also reflective of Malaysias rich ethnic and cultural diversity - and its gusto for good food and creative blending of spices and Asian ingredients like tamarind, coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, pandan leaves, prawn paste (belacan), fresh chili, palm sugar the list goes on.
This is either a franchise or a chain one of the big mysteries of Malaysian dining in the Bay Area. Banana Garden, Richmond & Banyan Tree, Fremont were both closed in recent years.
Great roti canai in most locations,made to order and in plain sight of diners (Penang Garden SF Chinatown being the exception). Not Singaporean roti prata if thats what youre looking for, but a very light & flaky version. Also different from what you will typically get in Malaysia, which tends to be round and multi-layered and accompanied by dhal curry. Here in the Bay Area, it is served with a chicken curry sauce that also vary by location. I hear NASA is doing some research on turning out a decent roti canai in outer space in preparation for the first Malaysian astronaut to venture out there in 2007. Decent Hainanese chicken rice (the national dish of Singapore) although slightly overdone and without the requisite ginger dipping sauce. Beef Rendang could be better. Penang-style char kueh teow is very good in the Union City location with enough wok smokiness to satisfy the most discerning. (Banana Leaf supposedly has an even superior version). Stay away from Thai dishes (go to a decent Thai restaurant if you want Thai food!)
Website & Menu: http://www.penanggarden.com/menu.htm (This is the SF Chinatown location but menu is identical in all locations)
Banana Island, 311 Lake Merced Blvd., Daly City
T: (650) 756-6868
Banyan Garden, 1771 Decoto Road, Union City
Mercury News Review (7/03)http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercur...
Island Café, 111 East 4th Ave., San Mateo
Banyan Tree, 41 Woodsworth Lane (at Contra Costa Boulevard), Pleasant Hill
Tel. (925) 686-9828
Banyan Tree reviews: Chronicle (8/2004)http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article... ; Contra Costa Times (10/2004) http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/c...
Penang Garden, 728 Washington St., San Francisco, CA 94108
Hours: Everyday 11 10 pm
Penang Garden, 278 Barber CT, Milpitas, CA 95035
Penang Garden Number Two, 2450 S El Camino Real, San Mateo, 94403
Chronicle review of Penang Garden # 2 (6/04)http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...
Straits Café (multiple locations)
Web site and menu http://www.straitsrestaurants.com/; Chronicle review of the Burlingame location. (3/2005) http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi...
3300 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
1100 Burlingame Ave. (at California Drive), Burlingame
Hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. M-Th; 5-10 p.m. M-W ;11 a.m.-12:30 a.m. F-Sat, 11 a.m.- 10 p.m. Sun.
333 Santana Row, Winchester at Stevens Creek, San Jose.
3295 El Camino Real (at Lambert), Palo Alto. (650) 494-7168.
Banana Leaf ,182 Ranch Dr., Milpitas
Website & Menu http://www.bananaleaf-usa.com/
Hours: 11am-3pm, Mon-Thu; 5-9:30pm; 11 am-10:30 Sat ; Sun closed
Metroactive Review (7/00) http://www.metroactive.com/papers/met...
Bugis Restaurant, 682 BARBER LN, Milpitas, CA
Coconut Grove, 129 Great Mall Dr, Milpitas, 95035
Coconut Rose, 20956 Homestead, Cupertino
Shiok! 1137 Chestnut Street, Menlo Park
Website & Menu http://www.shiokkitchen.com/main.cfm
Hours: 11:30am - 2:30pm M F; 5:30pm - 9:00pm Sat Sun
Palo Alto Online review (5/00)http://www.paloaltoonline.com/weekly/...
The Spice Islands Café, 210 Hope St. Mountain View
Layang Layang, 1480 S. De Anza Blvd., San Jose
Website & menu www.layanglayang.us
Hours: 11am-3pm and 5pm-9:30pm Tue-Fri; 11am-10pm Sat; 11am-9:30pm Sun.
Price range: $5.95-$18.95.
Metroactive review (1/2005) http://www.metroactive.com/papers/met...
Singapore Malaysia Restaurant, 836 Clement St., San Francisco, CA
Red Kwali 39055 Cedar Blvd.,Suite 108 (at Mowry Ave.), Newark
Website & Menu http://www.redkwali.com/
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Tu-F; 11:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Sat.-Sun. 6:00-9:30 p.m. Sun.,
Tue.-Thu.; 6:30-10:00 p.m. Fri. Closed Mon.
East Bay Express Review (9/04) http://www.eastbayexpress.com/issues/...
Penang Village. 1290 Coleman Ave., near Brokaw Road (Costco), Santa Clara.
(408) 980-0668. Lunch and dinner daily. Closed Sunday. $$
Satay House, 5657 Snell Ave. (Near Blossom Hill Rd), San Jose, CA
More (http://www.makantime.com/indexabroad.... of Singaporean/Malaysian restaurants elsewhere in the world.