One Brooklyn restaurant is bringing Malaysian cuisine, and culture, to the city. Zagat editor James Mulcahy filed the following report for NY1.
New York City is full of amazing Asian restaurants, but Malaysian cuisine is not well represented. Today we're visiting one restaurant in Brooklyn that's trying to change that.
Pasar Malam takes its name from the night markets that are a mainstay in Malaysia. Like the restaurant, these social venues feature fare that is informed by a diverse range of influences.
"Malaysian food has three major influences: Indian influence, Chinese influence, then they have the Java/Thai influence. What Malaysian food does is it kind of naturally evolved as a marriage between these three cultures,” said Salil Mehta, chef and owner of Pasar Malam.
The colorful cuisine is marked by its strong and vibrant mix of flavors. In one dish you may experience wallops of spice, sweetness and umami, all in a single bite.
"Mostly with Western cuisine it's like it's the meat that's the star of the dish, or the piece of fish that you have. In Malaysian food it's what comes with that. The condiments are very important. You know, no good condiments means the food is no good,” said Mehta.
Meat takes a back seat here. The creativity of this cuisine is a direct result of making do with the ingredients on offer.
"Most of it is poor man's food. I believe that the best food in the world is poor man's food because that's what represents most of the country,” said Mehta.
A good place to dive into this menu is with the roti, a dippable, savory dough that comes stuffed with a wide array of ingredients. The restaurant lets you see it being made in an open kitchen.
"When you see how each dish is made and what goes into making that dish, I believe you enjoy that process more,” said Mehta.
And why are there not more Malaysian restaurants in New York City? The flavors are bold and far from Americanized. But with restaurants like this one educating the public, the demand is sure to grow soon.
“This is awesome. It's sweet, it's savory, it's spicy. It has every flavor going on. Teally delicious,” said Mulcahy.
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