Vancouver Eats – Memak Malaysian Cafe
Chowtimes.com organized a lunch for 50 of his readers to try out a new Malaysian cafe. For those who does not know what Chowtimes is, go visit this site right now… or after you read this post. The website and the couple behind it is truly a local gem on Vancouver eats and food-blogging.
I am not familiar about authentic Malay cuisine so I can’t comment on the authenticity of the food but judging from the responses by Malaysian foodies, it seems like it’s the real deal (like a HK cafe vs Authentic Canadian Chinese cuisine). Does that make sense?
The restaurant is located in a dive pub (Pub 340) which one would not know what type of food is being cooked in the kitchen without walking in. The owner Charles mentioned that they are working on having a proper sign.
This review will be a bit different from the others since this is a special event that was put together by the couple behind Chowtimes, Charles and Julie (owners/chef) and a lot of hard work were put into making this event successful and fun. I will only focus on the food and not logistic hiccups that came with serving for an unusual party of 50+.
First off, I apologize that I forgot to bring a camera (what was I thinking attending a foodies event without a camera???) and it was halfway through that I realized that phones are now our emergency cameras. 🙂
I thought it was funny seeing a tattooed server that looks like she’s more familiar serving burgers and beers explaining to us what each Malay dish is. And also the fact that we were a hop from the bar where there are men getting their drank on early on the weekend.
This was what was on the menu: satay and roti, bah kut teh (meat bones tea), mee goreng (fried noodles) and nasi kandar (coconut milk rice, beef rendang, curry chicken, prawn sambal).
Luckily, we met a Chinese Malaysian at the table who could tell us more about the food and whether if it’s authentic or not. I won’t base my review on his opinions but it was interesting. The roti was okay. It was not one of my favourites in town. We had 2 satays, one chicken and one beef. The chicken was quite tasty but the beef was chewy and dry. The other 8 ppl at my table agreed all the same. The peanut sauce was good with big chunks of peanuts.
The bah kut teh was tasty but the tender fall-off-the-bone meat needed some sauce. It came with chili soy sauce and some type of sauce that’s like hoisin sauce with chopped garlic. I ate the meat with a dash of the hoisin-like sauce and it was really good. The sauce overpowered the true taste of the bah kut teh.
Then we had the Mee Goreng. When the waitress placed our plate down, the burnt smell was very apparent. It was tolerable until we started eating and realized that the plate of noodles were burnt so each bite was quite bitter. We looked around at other tables and suspect that we got a bad batch because we were the only table that did not finish our plates.
The next dish was meant to be their showcase dish of the day, the nasi kandar. I was happy that we each got our own serving but that’s where my happiness ended. The chicken I got was raw. It was not ‘not cooked well enough’ as those who know me, I can eat undercooked meat. However, this was full blown rawness. To be honest, after discovering the chicken, everything else on my plate was kinda meh afterwards.
Since this is not a regular visit to the cafe and that I really appreciate that it was organized, I feel guilty for not giving it a thumbs up. But unfortunately, the mistakes made were basic culinary mistakes and not a subjective opinion on taste which is not as forgiveable. These are the mistakes that could kill the reputation of a restaurant, especially with the competition in Vancouver. But with the number of glowing reviews on Urbanspoon, maybe the pressure of cooking for 50 sharp tongued foodies threw their game off today. Perhaps the restaurant deserves another try on a regular night.