Thursday, February 18, 2016

Kaya Malay Bistro 3-course prix fixe

Kaya Malay Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Kaya Malay Bistro has a 3-course $28 menu that looks like a Dine Out Vancouver offering, but it's not. Not exactly. tons of options for the main, and they are thinking of putting some of this prix fixe menu's items on their a la carte.

Thanks to Ronald Lee of Eat Marketing, I got to try a house selection of this three-course for free, along with Vanfoodies and Nancyland.

DISCLAIMER: Part of our meal was free (I will indicate which items in my review)! This included selections from the three-course prix fixe, plus a single order of roti canai we all shared. I did insist on paying for my own drink and soup selection separate from the three-course.
Since Ronald only invited bloggers, I'm going to try to limit my observations to what they can't really influence by schmoozing. (This said, the owner Scott Kwan has received Vancouver Tourism Awards "for exhibiting service excellence" -- which you can see among the other awards lining the wall opposite the doors to the washrooms.)

Decor is nice, accentuated by dim lighting.
Washrooms are pleasantly clean and scented; toothpicks available; sink awfully small and a bit awkward to use if you want to freshen up by washing your face, for example.
Owner is very friendly, and visits tables on the floor (no, not just our table -- I was there really early and spotted him checking on other tables and helping out on the floor).
Servers are cute! :P

TIP: Their free WiFi only handles 5 users at a time. You can connect, but if all spots are used you can't reach the website to enter the password.
TIP: They may bring out a "screen" of vases and twigs to separate dining parties. These can fall over easily so keep your distance or be careful if you are sitting with one behind you.

Overall, something very noticeable with the dishes we tried is the portion size -- really pretty decent for price!
TIP: Ask for extra napkins. There is no cloth napkin for your lap, just one paper napkin and it ain't that big. This can also be handy if you want to wipe your spoon and fork between courses so as not to mix flavours. No, we didn't get any cutlery changes (I could have asked, I guess, but it seemed easier to just ask for napkins).

Cucumber lemonade ($5 for mason jar) hand-pressed cucumber, lemon, and basil mixed with soda water.
  • Pretty decent as lemonades go.
  • With each sip, initially you get a sharp lemonade that is not overly sour nor too sweet. After that flavour clears, you are left with a light cucumber aftertaste.
  • A different style of lemonade interesting to try if you're paying attention to what you're drinking.
Roti Canai ($7) Handrolled layered flat bread with curry sauce. 2 pieces.
  • (We got one order to share, for free).
  • Came pre-cut, so I'm assuming there were two pieces in there prior to being chopped up for your convenience.
  • For $7 I'd say it was a low quantity of roti, especially as you don't get really enough curry to properly soak-dip each piece. Still, price is on par with someplace like Banana Leaf, so everywhere you're basically paying a premium for the popularity of this appetizer.
  • Roti very slightly sweet. Not fluffy or flaky (try Amay's House).
  • Full-sized tablespoon a bit awkward with the small cup of curry. Jus' sayin'.
  • Curry not spicy at all, which is understandable for a North American audience but disappointing for me and my South East Asian nostalgia (which also means I'm biased here -- take note). It would be very close to my fondly remembered Singapore childhood experience if it were spicier.
Smoked Salmon with Green Papaya and Mango Salad
  • (We each got a plate for free as part of the 3-course prix fixe.)
  • Winner. Salad was sharp, sweet, and refreshing.
  • Quantity is substantial for a salad appetizer. And it feels fuller in your tummy because it's not fluffy leaves making up the salad.
  • For me, the salmon was best used spaced out while eating up the salad as it gives you a break from the sharpness with a totally different fatty-creamy salmon experience in your mouth. Since it's a rather large salad, you will probably get tired of the monotony if you didn't have it.
  • Overall, I think they could shave cost a bit by providing a smaller salad and maybe just one piece of salmon. This salad, plus the lamb shank, plus the shared roti canai -- I was already starting to feel full. And I only had two tablespoons of rice with my lamb shank.
Court-Bouillon Braised Lamb shank in Malaysian Style; a lamb shank so tender it almost falls off the bone, braised with ginger, leek, carrots, and spinach
  • (We each got a plate for free as part of the 3-course prix fixe.)
  • Cold plate -- not just room temperature or cool, but actually cold -- cooled down the dish before it hit the table. Might be a fluke mistake but pretty much all our plates for the dishes were cold.
  •  You are provided with a steak knife (!) but there's no point using it since you can basically separate meat from bone with your spoon and fork.
  • Overall, pretty tasty and a substantial quantity of meat, but I'm sure it would have been a lot tastier were it actually hot.
Banana Leaf Coconut rice ($2.75) banana leaf wrapped rice cooked with coconut milk
  • (We asked for two bowls to share among four persons. We got it for free.)
  • Totally didn't need it as we were starting to get full even before dessert.
  • Definite fragrant coconut aroma. Less so in flavour when you eat the rice on its own.
  • Coconut totally wasted if you mix it with anything since the coconut flavour is going to be smothered. If you're mixing it into a stew or curry, save 75 cents and just get regular steamed rice for $2--You're not really going to know the difference.
Deep Fried Mango Ice Cream
  • (We each got a plate for free as part of the 3-course prix fixe.)
  • Really thick dough shell around the ice cream, which came across like a oily smelling donut. Some people might really like this, but I can't say I was a fan of it. I'd have preferred the ice cream straight.
  • Served with some whipped cream (?).
  • Could totally have used a fork as well instead of just the spoon, chasing the pieces of deep fried donut around on my plate.
Squash and Apple Curry Bisque ($7.5) South East Asian soup infused with Malay spices, galangal, and pepper leaves.
  • I ordered this separately after the meal after talking my dining partners into it since they could still fit something in after our pretty filling meal. The owner wanted to absorb the cost of this plus our drinks, but I refused.
  • Bowl looks small but there's a surprising quantity in there.
  • Tasted apple and squash in a complex play in the mouth. But this was unfortunately ruined by the nagging experience of the soup tasting thin.
  • Soup was still quite hot, but the bowl was cold -- same story as the lamb shank, but fortunately it didn't cool down the soup much.
2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro - cucumber lemonade

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro - papaya and mango salad

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro - papaya and mango salad

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro - roti canai

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro - roti canai

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro - lamb shank

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro - lamb shank

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro - lamb shank (meat pulled off the bone)

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro - coconut rice

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro - coconut rice

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro - deep fried ice cream

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro - deep fried ice cream

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro - menu 1

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro - menu 2

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro - menu 3

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro - menu 4

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro - menu 5

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro - menu 6

2016-Feb-18 Kaya Malay Bistro - menu 7

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