Penang Delight Cafe

I’ve been meaning to hit up Penang Delight Cafe for some time now. A couple of weeks back, a trusty colleague went on a scouting mission and returned with two thumbs up. This past weekend I gathered three very hungry cooks together for a Saturday brunch.

Penang is located at Rupert & 23rd in East Van. Over the last couple of years the location was a Filipino restaurant then a Pakastani joint and is now a purveyor of “fine” Malaysian cuisine.

This is a small room. The best way to describe it is “cozy”. The tables are adequate, almost. We got, I think, one of the bigger booths but things were very tight knit. With our hefty appetites and me crazily wielding a DSLR, we made full use of our space. The room was pretty near full and buzzing. Being near mid-afternoon, I was surprised by the crowd. Gotta figure that’s a good thing.

Our server was a very enthusiastic young chap. After we ordered seven or ten dishes he started in with recommendations. Dude! We’re hitting maximum table capacity here! No need for the up-sell!

The Penang Satay were very solid. Four big skewers of beef with a rich, well-made peanut sauce. Tender chunks, these. The chicken version was very close (it’s just not beef!). A great start.

The Roti Canai were pretty good as well. Could of been a tad crisper, a bit more flaky. Being stacked up so high let the steam suck some life out of ’em. A good and oily curry sauce livened them up considerably.

Loh Bak (Pork Roll) is ground marinated pork and shrimp enveloped in a bean curd wrap. Traditional recipes have these with cucumber, water chestnut, maybe five-spice. Here it’s called Penang Shrimp Roll. The pork/shrimp mix is no match for the over-fried wrap. I love me a crunchy wrap but it had better be oozing and/or dripping garlicky pork fat. The filling here is a bit too lean, far too firm.

The Penang Mee Goreng was quite tasty…stuffed with great ingredient. The thinly sliced tofu was my favorite part here. Nice crunchy cabbage and fresh prawn put this into the “solid” range. The halved calamansi limes gave this a good, sour element. A spicier sambal would’ve helped some.

The menu states that the Nasi Goreng consists of rice, shrimp, egg, pork, green beans and chili. The plate we got was a couple items short. The ground pork appeared as did a scrambled egg. Missing was any form of shrimp and the green beans were substituted by lettuce. Not quite as advertised.

The Penang Chor Kueh Teow didn’t quite hit the mark, either. Again, a bit bland, lacking the smoky wok flavor necessary here. With eyes closed this could have been the Mee Goreng.

And now for something completely different…Kaya Toast and Teh Talik.

Mix up some coconut milk, eggs, sugar and butter and slap it on toast! Brilliant! With a sturdy cup of Teh Tarik (milk tea), this is a perfect way to start the day. It seemed a bit odd in an array of noodles, skewers and rice, but it gave a very nice and sweet counterpoint. When I venture to Malaysia, this would be my breakfast of choice.

It’s somewhat hard to pass firm judgement here. This is a very small space with a somewhat large customer base. When the room is this cramped (maybe 30 seats), the kitchen is usually twice as cramped. This makes for a shortage of ingredient when things turn busy. I’ll cut them a load of slack and probably come back many times.

Penang Delight Cafe on Urbanspoon

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3 responses

  1. LotusRapper

    Ya know Karl, one day I’ll short out my laptop’s keyboard with drool whenever you post close-ups of delicious foods, and I’ll blame you for it 😉

    I’m guessing they don’t take reservations. So if a brunch was already busy and crowded, I imagine dinners would be even tougher to get in without a long wait with a group of 4-5 people ? I wanna try them, but with a toddler in tow we’re not crazy for very busy, unpredictable places.

    February 23, 2011 at 4:06 pm

  2. Karl

    Thanks, LR. That’d be funny if I didn’t actually short out my laptop’s keyboard last month in Mexico. Not drool, but some fine tequila did the trick. Luckily they only run about $45 or so. The real heartbreak was the lost Don Julio!

    The website says that they take reservations. No harm in calling. Probably be best to try on a Monday or Tuesday. We dropped in on a Saturday afternoon and their were a few tables to pick from. Worst-case scenario you go to Kimura next door.

    February 23, 2011 at 6:48 pm

  3. LotusRapper

    Oh they have a website, that’s great, thanks Karl.

    Yeah, how bad can it be if the alternative is next door and is Kimura ? Not been there neither, so I might have to do a double-header of Penang-Kimura one of these days, LOL.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:54 pm

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