Penang

Penang Restaurant

Pendang is one of the 13 states in Malaysia with 3 major Asian influences in the food: Malay, Chinese and Indian.  According to their description, the main stay of every meal is a “steaming generous portion of rice”.  Interesting, considering that the rice is not included with any of the entrees, and when my brother asks for brown rice, they first said it was not ready yet (though the lunch crowd had already arrived and it was after 12:30pm).  When the rice did come, it was not steaming, warm, not hot, certainly not steaming, and there was only about a coffee cup size serving.  The rice is only $1 per serving extra, but when they are charging $9-$30 for entrees, I would hope that they would include it if it they feel its a staple of the meal and could only cost them pennies per serving.

So on to the appetizers. The appetizer to get was Roti Canai, this is what I saw everyone else getting, an Indian-Style pancake with curry chicken dipping sauce.  This photo I did not take, its from their website…

The appetizers we got were the baby honey squid and the seafood dumplings. The squid must have been deep fried at a very high temperature (pictured below on the right with sesame seeds).  It tasted more like bacon that anything.  The sweetness was there, but perhaps it was left in there a few seconds too long.  It reminded us of deep fried pork rinds.  The “Ultimate” Seafood dumplings were described in the menu as pan fried with ginger vinegar.  Perhaps they were pan fried but ultimately boiled or steamed first?  They are pictured below on the left.

Ayam Redang is a boneless dark meat chicken cooked over low heat in lemon grass and chili paste, then simmered in a thick curry sauce.  The curry I definitely tasted.  It was quite good, even better over rice. The chicken itself was not tender or tough.  My brother ordered brown rice with it since all entrees did not come with any side vegetables or rice.  The entrees we had were $14 each and the fish marked “SP” (special price) was $30 when we asked.  I got a side of coconut rice which was really light, mild tasting but I definitely tasted the coconut and enjoyed it, especially with the curry sauce over it.

I had looked at the menu the night before and was dreaming of the “Golden” spare ribs which they call authentic.   They are fried and served with a chili sauce on the side, and the Volcano ribs were served tossed in the sauce.  In either case, I didn’t know they were going to come in small pieces, and not so tender.  I don’t mind so much they were chopped into small pieces, though that did make them harder to eat.

This place has been here for over 10 years, so they must be doing something right and I would definitely go back though I was disappointed my first time there. Maybe its what I ordered, but they boast having over 130 dishes.  Perhaps this is the problem, they should cut the menu back to only the most popular and authentic.  Maybe this way they would have time to cook the rice before the lunch rush.

When a place has a good menu, a good reputation, but I walk out disappointed, I decide to give them another chance.  They deserve one (some don’t), but upon first visit I was not really impressed.  The bill, with tip, came to about $60.  I brought my own beer since they do not serve alcohol.  I could not find Singh Malaysian beer in my liquor store, so I got ’33’ from Vietnam, it was either that, Sapporo from Japan or Tsing Tao from China.  I went with a beer I never tried before.

One other note, if you are looking for this place from the highway, note that it is in a strip mall behind a major chain department store.  Its literally hidden, so be alert and make once you see the sign out front with all the other businesses.

Penang Malaysian & Thai Cuisine (973-887-6989)
200 Rt. 10 West, East Hanover NJ 07936
www.penangcuisine.com

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