Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘Hainan

There is a popular Malaysian eatery in Sydney with queues on the footpath day and night. We time our meals at Mamak to avoid the crowd by dining early or late. Mamak is famous for their roti. The street frontage has a wide window with a view into the kitchen where chefs efficiently stretch and twirl the pale unleavened dough. It is oiled and seasoned, cooked on the searing griddle where it blisters and colours, and morphs into flaky bread.

We haven’t had Malaysian cuisine since we’ve been in Seattle and I suggested dinner at Malay Satay Hut when we were in Redmond on a weeknight. Located in the Overlake East Shopping Centre, a familiar ‘congee, noodles, rice’ neon sign greeted us.

We walk through a thatched hut entrance into a spacious dining room. A bamboo roof shaded the bar.

A large poster of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur decorated the wall.

A whiteboard listed many specials. The gung pao frog legs and Milo ice piqued my interest!

Photos of Malaysian ingredients introduced the menu.

Singha, a Thai lager, was a refreshing contrast to the strong flavours of the food.

We ordered several dishes to share family style. Roti telur, slivers of sautéed onions were folded in golden layers of roti and dipped in a bowl of curry.

The restaurant’s namesake and signature appetiser, the satay chicken was a highlight. Slathered in chunky slurry of satay, the skewered chicken was tender and smoky. The cucumber nuggets emptied the satay bowl.

Half a Hainanese chicken was served with chilli and ginger sauces. Poached in stock, the boned poultry was fragrant and succulent.

String beans and shelled prawns were stir-fried in belecan (fermented shrimp paste). A peculiar umami taste, the beans were vibrant and the prawns toothsome.

A mound of coconut fried rice was studded with prawns and onions, and flecked with egg. The generous portion was light and aromatic.

To me Malay fare is synonymous with char kway teow. In a miniature wok was flat rice noodles tossed with bean sprouts, chives and egg. Supple strands intertwined with threads of vegetables.

Salt and pepper squid is an Asian staple. Crusted in a delicate batter, the pieces of molluscs yielded to bite, and was spiked with chilli and green onions.

I’m pleased that the original Malay Satay Hut is in Seattle!

Seattle has a reputation for authentic Japanese and Vietnamese cuisines. I’ve had Tamarind Tree on my list and I finally dined there last month. In Asian Plaza on the corner of Jackson and Twelve, I had to circle the mall a couple of times to find the restaurant at the back.

Our group of five gathered for a weekday lunch. The modern interior was decorated in warm tones. A majestic pot of fuchsia and white orchids was on the bar.

We were seated by a thoroughfare with a view of the kitchen.

Featuring a classic wise men motif, the ceramic teapot was handmade Bát Tràng porcelain, as were all the serving plates and bowls.

A caddy of fiery condiments was on each table.

Myra recommended sửa đá chanh, a blended beverage of fresh lime, condensed milk and crushed ice. It was a refreshing milky drink laced with citrus notes, tempering the bold flavours of the meal.

We ordered several dishes to share. Spring rolls (gỏi cuốn) and egg rolls (chả giò chay) were appetising. Vegetables, herbs and rice noodles were wrapped in rice paper parcels.

A salad (gỏi đu đủ) of shredded green papaya, steamed prawns, pickled jicama, julienne carrot, roasted peanuts and fresh herbs was a symphony of tastes and textures.

A golden cratered crescent was filled with prawns, sliced pork, slivers of shiitake mushroom and bean sprouts. The rice flour and coconut milk crêpe batter was crispy and stuffed with ingredients, a delectable version of bánh xèo.

A favourite homely rice pot (cơm gà tươi Hải Nam), the rice was cooked in chicken broth and topped with Hainanese steamed chicken. It was fragrant and rich, brightened by splashes of ginger fish sauce (nước mắm).

The final savoury dish was bún chả Hà Nội, Hanoi grilled pork noodles. I wrapped grilled pork portions, rice noodles and herbs in lettuce leaves and ate the rolls by hand.

The waitress suggested two desserts. First was flan, a dense silky custard in a pool of caramel sauce.

The second dessert was bánh chuối nướng Cognac, Cognac red banana cake. We tipped the glass of warm Cognac coconut milk over the spongy cake, a sticky sweet adult treat.

I understand why the dining room was full for the two hours we were there!

The only Malaysian eatery I know of in Seattle is Malay Satay Hut. It’s been on the list for a while but I’m yet to make the drive to Redmond (and Portland too!) or walk to Chinatown for their traditional Malaysian fare. I was delighted that Banana Leaf was the penultimate restaurant on the Dim-sum-couver (點心哥華) schedule.

Emerald wall, tangerine window frames and daffodil sign, the colourful street frontage was a contrast to the wooden interior.

The specials chalkboard piqued our interest as we waited for a table.

I always imagine a chef wielding a machete in the kitchen to slice a lid on the fresh coconut when I order one!

We sipped cocktails and coconut juice as we perused the extensive menu of curries, rice, noodles, stir-fries, seafood, salads and soups. We selected three classic dishes to share.

Roti canai, warm flaky flatbread, was served with a side of light dhal.

Glistening pieces of Hainanese chicken (海南雞飯) was surrounded by a moat of sliced cucumber and garnished with sprigs of coriander. Toasted peanuts, grated ginger, chilli garlic sauce and soy sauce were condiments. The tender meat was fragrant, the essence of the stock the chicken was poached in. The delicious comfort food was dipped in the sauces and paired with Hainanese rice.

A popular fast food at hawker stalls, char kway teow could be considered the national dish of Malaysia. Flat rice noodles were tossed with sweet soy sauce, chilli, egg, bean sprouts, prawns, fish cakes and squid. We happily nibbled on the starchy stir-fry.

I must get to Malay Satay Hut this year!


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