The two best Malaysian restaurants in Vancouver right now are probably Penang Delight on Rupert and Kaya Malay Bistro on Broadway. Both good restaurants. The difference in a nutshell: Penang is a bit on the greasy side (sometimes a good thing), Kaya is a bit cleaner and more upscale. Hawker’s Delight is a cheap guilty pleasure too. But I’m always on the hunt for better Malaysian/Singaporean food because it’s one of our favourite cuisines, and one that hasn’t been done justice yet in Vancouver. I heard about Ipoh Asian House on Hastings on Twitter, thanks to Moyenchow:
SPOTTED: Ipoh Asian House on Hastings near Penny’s, just opened. If they have Ipoh Chicken, might have to TOFT. pic.twitter.com/hBW9nIsqkB
— Moyenchow (@moyenchow) April 24, 2014
So naturally we all went to check it out!
BTW, they don’t actually have the real “Ipoh Chicken” dish despite the name. 🙁
Located on Hastings between Victoria Drive and Nanaimo. Just look for the 7-Eleven down the block or the Dairy Queen across the street. Wow, Penny Restaurant is still around?! Man, that place helped define University eating life for me back in the 90s.
Pop served in a hipster mason jar. Really jarring, considering the look and feel of the rest of this place. 😛
We got a half Hainanese Chicken.
The chicken was definitely overcooked. White meat pieces were tough but the dark meat pieces were a little better. No gelatinized layer between the skin and meat. Skin was more flabby than taut.
As a regular bak jam gai (white cut chicken/poached chicken) it was barely adequate, but as Hainanese Chicken it plain sucked.
Three sauces but all kinda nondescript. Visions of special secret sauce recipes are far, far away from this place.
Hainanese Rice. They brought out regular white rice at first, but we reminded them that we ordered Hainanese rice. This place is still new and the staff are a bit green. But they tried hard to please us, so their heart is in the right place. The rice lacked garlic and chicken fat. There was also a debate about the freshness of this rice. Wilma thought the rice was on the verge of going stale/bad, like if rice is sitting out in a rice cooker for too long and starting to ferment. I thought the rice tasted and smelled fine…it just wasn’t that good of a Hainanese style chicken rice.
The less said about this “Singapore Laksa” the better. Generous portion but tasted of disappointment. Watered-down curry with noodles, egg, tofu and shrimp. No depth, no zing, no thanks.
“CKT” aka Char Kuey Teow. I dunno how they get away with calling this Char Kuey Teow. I’d take Hawker’s Delight‘s Fried Kuey Teow over this any day. To me this dish was just chow fun.
Otak Fish Fillet in Banana Leaf. This arrived sizzling hot. It was the dish with the most spices and seasoning, so therefore the most enjoyable dish out of everything we ordered.
The fish might’ve been sole…or basa. A soft, mild, white fish. I appreciated the addition of laksa leaf (rau ram) on top, but…how…does one eat it? You mean I gotta put down my utensils and pluck off a saucy leaf myself and get my fingers all yucky? Hmmmm…
Bean Sprouts with Jicima and Salted Fish. This was also an enjoyable dish but I’d consider it a homey Chinese dish, not a Malaysian one.
A little surprise…we got complimentary red bean soup. Luckily for Moyenchow, there wasn’t much (if any) dried mandarin peel in it 😉 I’ve never loved red bean soup but it’s a typically Chinese dessert…that is, an anti-dessert.
The achilles heel of this place is that they try to do too many things. They do HK-cafe style lunches during the day and an expansive Malaysian/Chinese/Thai menu at night.
If you’re into Cantonese food with a watered-down Malaysian touch, you gotta check this place out!