Sherman's Food Adventures: Penang Delight Cafe

Penang Delight Cafe

It's official. Sunday morning summer hockey has drawn to a close. It means more sleep and most importantly, no more eats on Sundays. Since that was the case, we decided to go for something a bit different than the usual. Seeing how we hadn't done anything Malaysian, we settled on giving Penang Delight Cafe a go. It also coincided with Beebs joining us for the first time in search of nourishment. Beebs is Indonesian and the cuisine shares a lot in common with Malaysian food. I guess he was our "expert" or authenticity police for the day. This in itself brings up an interesting point. So many of us are so caught up in the authenticity thing that we tend to forget that if the food tastes good, does it really matter? I mean, it certainly doesn't matter to the many people who continually visit the Thai House for the last 25 years... My point is: restaurants are there to make money, not to satisfy the small group of people who exclaim, "I'm from (so and so a place) and this food is not authentic!!!". Good for them. A successful restaurant doesn't give a rats ass about that if they consistently make money. Banana Leaf and Tropika are good examples of this. Both have adjusted their flavours to appeal to a broader market locally and are often accused of doing so. However, I do not mind either restaurant and fully know well what I'm getting myself into when I eat there.

In the case of Penang Delight Cafe, I've heard everything from it is authentic to it is not authentic. For us, we didn't really care and set forth just to have a pleasant meal. We started with the "must order" Roti Canai. Although it was slightly more dense than the ones found at Banana Leaf and Tamarind Hill, it was far from doughy. It was slightly sweet with a nice crisp exterior giving way to the chewy inside. The curry dipping sauce was quite mild being sweet with only a hint of heat. We couldn't decided whether we wanted chicken or beef satay, so we ended up getting both. The Chicken Satay was cooked absolutely perfectly being moist, juicy and exhibiting a nice rebound texture. There was enough marinade that the meat could've been eaten by itself, but there was no way we'd pass up the peanut dipping sauce. It had a nice consistency with plenty of peanuts and a rich sweetness. As for the Beef Satay, the meat was predictably not as tender as the chicken. Yet, it was not difficult to chew. The meat was cooked medium-rare and had a nice flavour. My only wish would be for more charring on the outside for presentation purposes and some smokiness/
caramelization.

For our veggie intake of the day, we got the Sambal Green Beans. Once the plate hit the table, we were greeted with the wonderful smell of shrimp paste. Of course, everyone had to wait while I took a photo of it first which was excruciating to say the least. The beans were on the softer side, but not mushy. The aforementioned fermented and pungent shrimp paste was balanced by the chili and sugar. This was a very flavourful dish. At first, the colour of the Beef Rendang looked a tad pale and that concerned me a bit. One bite of the moist and tender beef, all the concerns went away with a powerful coconut kick. There was also the bite from the galangal and aromatics courtesy of the lemongrass. Furthermore, I could really pick out the star anise and clove as well. The dish was filled with so many different flavours except it was quite mild. We could've used a bit more heat.

Another standard of South Asian cuisine is the different variations of Hainanese Chicken. The Malaysian version is very similar to Singaporean version except the chicken rice is often served in a ball. Moreover, it is served with a hotter chili sauce and sometimes accompanied by blanched bean sprouts. Everything was true with the one we ordered here except we got 4 bowls of Chicken Rice (the balls of rice are found only in the individual portion). The rice was a tad drier than other versions I've had. That was not a bad thing though since the texture was perfectly chewy. We loved the flavour. It was nutty and had just enough chicken stock flavour without being salty. As for the chicken, it was super juicy and just barely cooked. It was served warm and deboned just like the Singaporean version.

Now for our final item, it was almost a given we'd have to try their Curry Laksa. Universally, we though the laksa was quite good. The broth was very flavourful with hits of coconut milk, lemongrass, shellfish and spice. Both types of noodles still retained a bite while all of the ingredients from the chicken to the shrimp were cooked properly. By now, we were pretty full and contemplating dessert. We waffled back and forth finally deciding to take a pass. However, the nice lady who was chatting up all the tables insisted we try dessert. So much so, it was on the house! Okay, not sure if it was my good looks... Wait, it was definitely not that. Viv would pretty much shoot me down anyways... And I'm not sure if it was due to my camera or they were just being plain nice. Whatever the case, we were served an order of Malay Kuih. In this case, I believe this was a Kuih Talam which consists of pandan juice and coconut milk. Someone correct me if I'm wrong. Whatever it was, the texture was quite appealing. It was soft while still exhibiting some gelatin-type qualities from the tapioca flour. The best part was the coconut milk layer on top. It was aromatic and naturally sweet. The dessert itself wasn't too sweet and it was a nice end to the meal. Now getting back to the authenticity debate, we noticed that the majority of patrons at the restaurant were of South Asian descent. So does that mean it was more authentic? Beebs seemed to enjoy the meal, although he did point out that his home-cooking is a bit different (naturally restaurant food is never the same as home-cooking). For the rest of us, we were happy with the food and isn't that what is most important?

The Good:
- Attentive and friendly service
- Flavourful, albeit mild dishes

The Bad:
- Flavourful, albeit mild dishes
- Tight seating arrangements

Penang Delight Cafe 馬來檳城美食 on Urbanspoon

4 comments:

gigi said...

The chicken rice balls are actually a regional specialty that's only found in the city of Melaka in Malaysia :) Interesting tidbit I picked up when I traveled there earlier this year.

Sherman said...

Thanks Gigi! Now if can get my arse over there someday...

The Eye 88 said...

Hoping you will try out Seri Malaysia one day soon. I think they have a wonderful beef rendang and I would be curious to see how you would compare it to Penang, Bo Laksa and Tamarind Hill.

Sherman said...

@TheEye88 Yes, you are right, I really need to go to Seri Malaysia. Been meaning to!