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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Malay Curry House 馬拉星

Malay Curry House is quickly becoming one of my go-to restaurants for a hot bowl of noodles. They are located on Kingsway a block from Boundary and they specialize in Malaysian style curries. They also have a killer Hainan Chicken that's boneless and comes with your choice of 2 sauces from a pretty lengthy list of options.

My favorite items on their menu are the curry soup noodles. They have a kick and very deep flavours from the various spices that they use. On my last visit, it was a little bit on the salty side, but it was still very delicious. You get your option of a couple of different kinds of noodles, but I usually go with the oil noodles because they are thicker and don't absorb too much of the soup which I like drinking along with the noodles. You can get mixed noodles as well, which is what J usually does. You also get to choose what kind of meat you want in it. I tried the lamb and I have to say that I still prefer the beef brisket. The lamb was mostly bone and fat, so it took away from the dish. The beef on the other hand, is very good. The meat is on the fatty side, but they more than make up for it in the quantity that they give you. Their soup noodles all come with napa, fish cakes, and tofu puffs.

The Hainan Chicken is one of their specialties and they actually run out of it sometimes. When we go with a larger party, we usually order a half or whole chicken in advance to ensure that we have one for the kids. They serve their chicken boneless which is great for the kids, and the chicken oil rice is flavourful while not being too oily. The chicken comes with some pickled carrots, radish, and a couple of chunks of pineapple. Soup is also included but it's very light and a bit salty so it's nutritional value is questionable at best.

The sauces are the highlight of the chicken dish. The standard choices with Chinese oil chicken are present and they make them quite well. I am referring to the ginger and chives sauce, and the sweet chili sauce. I tried the lime sauce one time and while I was impressed, I still fall back on the standard sauces.

J has ordered a variety of their other soup noodles and she hasn't been disappointed yet. She loves variety and doesn't like eating at the same places very often, so it speaks volumes when she wants to revisit a restaurant within a couple of weeks.

Another feature that I like about Malay curry house is that you can add a cold drink to your meal for fifty cents. They only have one flavour available at a time, but so far it's always been something fruity like peach or passion fruit tea. It's quite good and balances the heat from the noodles very well (especially in the summer).

The restaurant is decently decorated and pretty clean with several tables and a bench by the window. It is quite spacious and I think they could probably fit a few more tables in there without much problem (although I can't comment on the legality of cramming more people in there).

Service is where a lot of people get turned off by the restaurant. The servers are not well trained and very inefficient. They are slow to respond to customers and they don't monitor the dining room very often. On one particular visit, our server took orders from 2 people at a time from our table of 8. She took 2 orders and went to the kitchen, came back for 2 more orders and went to the kitchen again, and then returned to take another 2 orders. It was quite bizarre and very inefficient.

We have had orders mixed up before too. I had ordered oil noodles and my friend ordered mixed noodles, but we ended up with each others' noodles in the soups that we each picked. They also forget small requests like additional plates or bowls. We end up just walking to the counter instead of requesting them from the servers.

Finally, and this is the biggest problem and probably a deal breaker for many people, the restaurant (or just the servers) often make mistakes on the bill. I know friends and relatives who have eaten there and been billed for more items than they ordered, or billed more for what they did order. This happened to me on both the last 2 visits I made there. Less than a month ago, we were billed for an extra meal. On my last visit, the prices on the bill were higher than on the menu, and we were billed for an entire Hainan chicken instead of just the meal. The number of mistakes we have experienced and have been reported by friends and family are quite high, but I will leave it at that. Make sure you read your bill carefully!

Summary
Food: Very good. Great noodles and Hainan chicken.

Service: Poor. Service is not great, even by Chinese restaurant standards.

Setting: Average. Parking on nearby streets and the dining room is spacious and clean.

Value: Good. Great food and decent prices.

Malay Curry House 馬拉星 on Urbanspoon

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