Thursday, November 08, 2007

Suria Malaysian Restaurant

(Editor's Note: Suria is closed. There is no place in town that I know of to get Malaysian food anymore. Sigh.)

I've mentioned Suria before, but I didn't have time for a full review, and they have changed their menu a bit in the new location. (The biggest change is that they no longer seem to have the big bowls necessary to serve the soup-style dishes, although they will try serving it on a large plate if you request a favorite dish from their former restaurant.)

Malaysian food has a lot in common with Indian, Chinese and Thai, and yet it's entirely it's own cuisine. A lot of curries and noodles, and can be very very spicey. They also serve Chinese food for the more timid, but I can't tell you how good it is because I always get the Malaysian food. Another great thing for the uninitiated: they have pictures of the dishes on the menu, which helps you remember what you had last time.

The most amazing thing is the appetizer Roti Canai (ROE-tee CHEN-eye) a stretchy, flakey flat bread which seems to me to be a cross between Naan and Croissants. I've been trying to make Roti at home, and though I think I've done pretty well on the Indian version, the ultra-thin layers of the Malaysian version are inhumanly impossible. (Well, okay, maybe superhumanly possible, kinda like my grandmother's pie dough.) This is melt-in-your mouth stuff. It comes with a little bowl of hot curry sauce to dip, that's just perfect with the buttery bread. (Note, you get one piece of bread with an order -- be sure to ask for a piece for everyone in the group, because you'll all want your own.)

My favorite dish is Panang Fried Kuey Teow. (Shown above.) Kuey Teow (pronounced KWAY Ti-ow) is a freshly made rice noodle -- chewy and creamy, and often large. It's stirfried (like fried rice or lo mein) with shrimp and chinese sausage, onions beansprouts, soy sauce and spices. It's really good, but it is intense and greasy. If you're not sure, you could ask for it not so spicey. This is one dish that has so much flavor, leaving out the spice would not hurt it. (The Beef Hor Fun is similar, and not hot -- but it also doesn't have the mellow flavor of the Chinese sausage.)

Another interesting noodle dish, that's unfamiliar but good for western tastes, is the Mee Rojak, which is a plate of egg noodles with shredded cucumber and bean sprouts. Over the top is the meat of your choice (shown here with shrimp), some fried tofu pockets, and a sweet sauce that reminds me a little of bbq sauce, garnished with ground peanuts. This one used to come mild, but the last time we had it, it was hot (and listed as hot on the menu). Again, they're happy to make something mild.

The other common sort of dish is a curry or meat on the side of a little formed ball of flavored rice (usually coconut or ginger rice). I love their chicken curry, but it is cut up, Asian style, with the bones in, and can be slow eating for westerners. The Nasi Lemak is something like a national dish of Malaysia: chicken curry, a mound of coconut rice, cucumbers, a boiled egg, and a little pile of fried spicy anchovies. If you're not quite up to the anchovies, the Chicken Curry is just fine. The BBQ Pork is very good when they have it, though a little sweeter than the Chinese BBQ Pork it resembles.

They also have a selection of dim sum on the appetizer menu. I've never got around to trying it, because I'm always too hungry for the Roti Canai. I've also never tried the Malaysian drinks and desserts.

Suria Malaysian Restaurant. 5025 S. Cedar St., Lansing. (517)887-8168.
Recommended Links:
Lily's Wei Sek Hong is a blog written by a Malaysian American. A lot of the recipes are American or of other ethnicities, but she has a lot of Malaysian recipes in her long list on the right side of the page.

Recommended Reading:
My favorite Malaysian cookbook so far is The Food of Malaysia: Authentic Recipes From the Crossroads of Asia (Periplus World Cookbooks) , but it's out of print. The other major book I use is the Wei Chaun cooking school book Singaporean, Malaysian & Indonesian Cuisine.


Erich Zechar said...

Nasi Lemak, how I love thee. You get a perfect amount of each thing, and all the flavors complement each other. Mmmmm. We tried the dim sum, and liked the steamed buns. My favorite thing at Suria is that each dish is pictured, so your mouth is watering as soon as you see the menu.

The East Side Food Geek said...

We went by to try the dim sum this morning and found them closed Sunday! Sigh. Then we ran over to Asia's Finest and found them closed! We ended up having the buffet at Aldaco's, which is always great, but a bit much when you're all prepped to have a light snack. (sigh)

Imelda said...

mmm, mee rojak looks like one of my favorite thai dishes - pad see eew. did you ever eat at Ria? they were on grand river, and then opened a new location in downtown east lansing. i had a craving for nasi goreng and was disappointed to find that they were both closed.

The East Side Food Geek said...

Suria is run by the same people. East Lansing was just to expensive.

Mee Rojak is quite different than Pad See Eew... Egg noodles and a more sweet and sour-y sauce. Although there is a resemblance with the Panang Fride Kwey Teow.

It's just good stuff. Try it all! (But give them a call if you are under time constraints, because they seem to have adjusted their hours. 887-8188.)