It’s been my experience that if you want to find an exceptional ethnic restaurant it’s always a good idea to ask a person of that ethnicity for a recommendation. They will always steer you to the restaurant that is as true to their cuisine as possible. This practice has never failed me yet, in fact, I’ve found several amazing restaurants this way. The trick is to find a recent immigrant rather than someone who is several generations down the line.
This is the case with Taste Good Malaysian Restaurant on 82 – 18 45th Avenue, Elmhurst, NY. What a find! My Malaysian barber, who happens to be a recent immigrant, recommended it highly.
Located just off Broadway on 82-18 45th Avenue, in an area chock full of good Asian restaurants, this place is easy to miss. First of all it is several meters off the main drag and its facade is nondescript and uninviting, making it easy to overlook. I missed it a couple of times myself, and I was looking for it – LOL! I’m glad I persevered because this place is AMAZING!
The place is rather intimate (read small) so it fills up quickly. Don’t be surprised if you end up sharing a table (which can be serendipitous since your table mate may order something interesting). For such a small place, the menu is surprisingly varied with 194 entries (including dessert and drinks). No, I didn’t count each item – the menu comes numbered, which is a good idea since the server may not speak English well so you can just say the number.
As of this writing, I have been there three times already but sadly have not made a dent on the sizable menu. Almost all of what I’ve tried ,however, was outstanding. I can’t wait to go back and sample the other dishes.
What I’ve tried so far are the:
Singapore Kari Laksa – This is an absolutely delicious noodle soup dish. Based on a rich and spicy curry coconut milk broth, noodles, chicken, fried tofu, shrimp, fish cake and hard boiled egg, it had a creamy, complex flavor with a tingly spiciness. The noodles were chewy and gave a lingering creaminess afterward. The fried tofu acted like sponges, sopping up all that creamy goodness then exploding all that flavor in your mouth when bitten. The chicken, fish cake, egg and shrimp served to add extra layers of flavor to an already flavorful dish. I’m salivating just thinking about it. This is a dish you must definitely try.
Assam Laksa – A Malaysian favorite. This is a noodle soup dish based on a sour fish based soup from the island of Penang, with a very complex flavor. Made with tamarind and sometimes lemongrass for sourness, piled high with vegetables and herbs for added flavor, texture, and color, punctuated with a squeeze of lime (or calamansi, a zesty asian lime), and a spoonful of sweet, fermented shrimp paste; this dish will knock your socks off with it’s strong flavor hitting all five basic tastes – sweet, sour, bitter, salty and savoriness (umami). Not for the uninitiated.
Nasi Lemak – A rice dish considered the national dish of Malaysia consisting of coconut rice with spicy anchovies, sambal, curry chicken, peanuts, pickled vegetables and a hard boiled egg. With each mouthful of creamy coconut rice, accented by the spicy saltiness of the sambal, the sweet tanginess of the pickles, the richness of the chicken curry, and the crunchy saltiness of the anchovies and fried peanuts, it’s easy to see why this is a national favorite. It is one of mine.
Malaysian Popiah – A version of an egg or spring roll. Made of a thin crepe made from wheat flour and filled with lettuce and finely julienned and steamed jicama, drizzled with hoisin and chili sauces, and garnished with tiny dried shrimp. Sweet from the jicama and hoisin sauce, creamy from the crepe wrapper, spicy from the chili sauce, and salty from the dried shrimp.
Crispy Fish Cake – A Taste Good specialty. Fish cake quickly deep fried to a crispy deliciousness. Crispy outside and chewy inside with a mild fish flavor, accented by a spicy sweet dipping sauce. I can see why this is one of their specialties.
Char Kway Teow – Another of Malaysia’s favorite dishes. Made from flat rice noodles stir fried in soy sauce, chili, and some belachan (fermented shrimp paste) with shrimp, fish cake, bean sprouts, egg and chives. Similar to the Chinese Chow Mai Fun broad noodles.
Mee Siam – Also known as Siamese Noodles, this is basically spicy fried vermicelli with shrimp, tofu, chives, and ground peanuts in the chef’s special sauce. Similar to the Chinese Mee Fun.
Stuffed Bean Curd with Curry Soup – Similar in taste to the Singapore Kari Laksa because it uses the same rich, spicy, coconut milk broth, except slightly more piquant. without noodles and with tofu done three ways and stuffed with fish paste and vegetables. This is another must order dish especially during those gray rainy days.
Dry Egg Noodles with Wonton and Roast Pork – This dish is just as straight forward as its name. Dry sauteed egg noodles topped with roast pork and scallions and served with a side of Wonton soup. This was surprisingly delicious. It was crispy chewy from the egg noodles, slightly salty from the soy sauce based sauce, oniony from the scallions and sweet from the roast pork. The side of Wonton soup was very flavorful, the wontons themselves were thin skinned, full of shrimp and pork goodness. Yummy!
Dry Egg Noodles with Wonton and Roast Pork
If you’ve never had Malaysian food before, this is the place to go. Just be aware that this could ruin the other Malaysian restaurants for you. As for me, I’m looking forward to my next visit.