Date of Visit: 2013-08-16
A friend (@JCMiddledragon) was entertaining an out-of-town guest looking for the best Malaysian food that Toronto had to offer, and invited a bunch of us along for the adventure. While initially planning to visit Richmond Hill’s Restauran Malay, multiple suggestions pointed us to Scarborough’s Gourmet Malaysia. Gourmet Malaysia has been around for maybe a year now, having its start across the street in a small foodcourt. That location still exists as a take-out stall, though I’ve not visited them before. I’m guessing that their steady clientele, along with the vacancy from the previous AYCE-hotpot tenant, led them to expand to this new venue. Oh, and yes, they are Halal, as indicated by the bright neon green sign in their window.
There’s a karaoke area in the back of the banquet hall, along with a Wii hidden to the side to keep the lil ones occupied. Plenty of room in the venue, and lots of kids were running around – definitely feels very children-friendly. Their menu is pretty expansive, almost overwhelming. Luckily, we had a pair of eaters well-versed in classic/popular Malaysian dishes to help guide us.
Roti Cannai ($6.99) - Crispy roti, just lightly greased to create the warm, thin flakiness. The chicken curry was just thick enough to cling to the roti, without the layer of chilli oil that appears at other places. The curry’s flavour was good, not too sweet and not particularly spicy, but I’m lacking any additional words to describe it. The chicken meat itself had sufficient saltiness.
Chicken Satay (6pc) ($6.80) & Beef Satay (6pc) ($7.80), both fantastically tender yet fully cooked through. Wonderfully charred, seasoned and marinated (nothing magical, but not bland/unmarianted), they were perfectly good on their own, but even better with the chunky peanut satay sauce. This was one of the best sauces of the evening.
Thai Fish cake (8pc) ($5.90) – I was expecting this to be similar to Chinese fish cakes, where the outside is battered/fried, with white fish meat puree inside. I was surprised that the meat inside was yellow. Aside from that, it wasn’t anything astounding.
Mango Salad ($4.99) – Just a picture of the Mango Salad. I didn’t end up trying this — too many other amazing dishes on the table!
Kang Kung Belacan – Malaysian Style Tung Choi ($8.99) – The vegetable used in this dish is called water spinach (also known in Cantonese & Mandarin as Tung Choi or Kung Xing Chai – hollow vegetable). The tiny shrimp/krill impart a great amount of seafood flavour, with a surprising kick of spice. The krill are actually fleshy/meaty, unlike the dried shrimp often used in chinese cooking. There’s a tiny bit of pungency due to use of shrimp paste (made from fermented krill), almost a hint of fermented bean curd, bringing to mind the Cantonese Tung Choi w/ Fermented Tofu dish. One of my favourite dishes of the evening.
Gourmet Beancurd in Casserole ($8.99) – The presentation with an open flame is very eye-catching, and would be a great dish to order in the cold winters. The flavour is very light – almost too light, in comparison with all the other dishes we ordered. It’s not a terrible dish, but it just felt lacking, amongst its fellow bold dishes.
Prawns Indonesian Style ($9.80) – Prawns stir-fried in a rich earthy sauce, which reminded me of an Indonesian Rendang. While not too spicy, there’s a complex of earthiness and spice, with a touch of seafood flavour. The prawns are served with the head mostly intact, leaving the bolder eaters to suck on the heads. There aren’t a lot of prawns in each dish, maybe around 8-10 at most, but each of them are pretty large. The peppers are just as tasty, as their own mild sweet-sour-bitterness works just as well alongside the sauce. This was my third favourite dish of the evening.
Penang Char Kwei Teow – Fried Hor Fun w/ Mixed Seafood ($7.80). This is a very popular dish in Malaysia, often available from hawkers. On first impressions, this is very similar to the Cantonese dish Beef w/ Fried Rice Noodle, with additional seafood thrown in. Flavourwise, I can’t say it tasted or felt much different, either. That being said, the dish has a good amount of caramelization on the noodles and seafood, indicating a sizzling hot wok during stirfrying, always a good sign.
Penang Assam Laksa – Soup Noodle ($7.80) – This noodle soup was my other favourite dish of the night. The soup was tart yet mildly sweet from tamarind, with a reasonable amount of spicy heat. Typically made with mackerel, I didn’t find it overwhelmingly fishy — if mackerel was used, then it was done so judiciously and sparingly. Likewise, if there was pineapple in the dish, it didn’t steal the show. The other element that worked great were the matchstick zucchinis – adding a nice refreshing counter to the sour & spice of the soup. The spaghetti-sized rice noodles were smooth and slippery, and very soft – they would almost melt in your mouth, almost like gelatin. I think it was topped with a crispy thin sheet of tofu skin — it disappeared quickly as our eager eaters descended upon the dish. There was also boiled egg yolk hidden underneath all the noodles.
Mee Goreng – Yellow Noodles w/ Seafood in Sambal Sauce, Malaysian Fried Noodle ($7.80) — We ordered this dish after we had ravaged through the other dishes, thinking we needed an additional starchy filler dish. Usually prepared spicy, we asked for a non-spicy version of the dish to accomodate the eaters around the table. It didn’t have any distinct characteristics, although the noodles had great al dente texture, and were almost like a thinner spaghetti; even the sauce was a bit like a sweet tomato sauce. The noodles felt a bit greasy though, as I recall wiping the oil from my mouth after trying this dish. We had already been overwhelmed by great flavours all night, and perhaps the spicy version would have brought all the flavours together a bit better.
Overall, I feel like the food, presentation, and prices here are more humble than Restauran Malay (and its location is much closer) There were 7 of us, and with an additional two bowls of cocounut rice, three non-alcoholic drinks, the final tally at $107 + gratuity. I would definitely order the Penang Assam Laksa, Kang Kung Belacan, Indonesian Style Prawns, Roti Cannai, and Chicken/Beef Satay Skewers again. I intend to come back and try out their Nasi Lemak as well, and their online photo menu highlights some other very tempting dishes.