The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Malaysian @ Skyway, New York

If I had to name one cuisine that we missed the most in the past year living in Japan, it has to be good authentic Malaysian food. Whilst I adored the beautiful subtlety of Japanese cuisine, I craved the spicy, robust and greasy flavours that I grew up with (both in Malaysia and Perth). In my travels around Japan, I still have yet to encounter one restaurant that serves Malaysian food. And I've lamented over the fact that 'Chinese' food in Japan leaves the tastebuds a lot to be desired. This, of course, explained our frequent Malaysian and Chinese eats when we returned to Perth for a visit after a 9-month absence.

One of the specific requests I made from the ever-so-helpful NY-ers on egullet was a recommendation for a gooood Malaysian restaurant. Indeed, after being told that Malaysian food is not very well represented in this city, and after a disappointing visit to the first Malaysian restaurant we saw in NYC, we almost despaired at not eating good Malaysian chow before our return to New York. When an egulleter recommended Skyway Malaysian, our hope was restored! We even had the opportunity to meet the said egulleter, Michael, whose knowledge of the Malay language, food and culture put me to shame. (And he lived in Malaysia for only 2 years in his tweens! Compared to me who was born and raised there for 11 years! I'm ashamed *hangs head*)

The restaurant was medium size, unpretentiously decorated, and friendly service (I think it helped that Michael is a very frequent patron). Prices were good and serving sizes of the dishes were generous, as should be expected from a Malaysian restaurant. The taste of the food came close to what we were looking for, although none of the dishes ordered was particularly spicy (perhaps they thought we couldn't handle the heat?). We ordered Assam Sotong, a large Hot and Spicy Crab (the most expensive at $22), Ipoh Roast Chicken and Beef Satay to go with all three varieties of rice we also ordered: plain, chicken and coconut (the coconut rice is very fragrant and tasty).

The squid in the Assam Sotong was really tender, had nice vegetables like okra (aka 'ladies fingers') and the 'assam' sauce was the right balance of sweet and sour although it wasn't as spicy as I'd expected it to be. The crab was messy eating, but was really deliciously fresh (we saw it alive just moments before).

Assam Sotong; Hot and Spicy Crab:

The Ipoh Chicken, with the sauce, was a nostalgic reminder of my childhood. And the Beef Satay was very good - perhaps the best satay I've had outside of Malaysia. I think the satay sticks were meant to be an appetiser dish, but it was the last dish to arrive at our table. It was well worth the wait though.

Ipoh Roast Chicken; Beef Satay (came with 6 sticks):

The bill came to $50, which is quite reasonable to feed three (two of whom were men). We were actually surprised that we managed to finish all four dishes, but I was pretty full! And we also fit in some bubble tea at Michael's favourite bubble tea cafe after lunch too!

You know, eventhough Malaysian cooking may not be as pretty as French or Japanese food, it's damn good tucker and doesn't cost very much!

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