Peninsula Malaysian Cuisine - Minneapolis
2608 Nicollet Avenue South
Minneapolis MN 55408
A hip, busy place on eat street. My first time visit was on a Saturday night. About a 20 minute wait. Starter - Beef Satay - good, nice presentation, but not overly great. Had the Ayam Rendang - chicken in a lemongrass, chili curry. Nice presentation UNTIL I tried to eat it. Completely full of small bones. Dangerous to serve, in my opinion, due to the possiblity of choking. What are your thoughts? Would you inform the owner of this issue? When I mean full of bones, I mean FULL of bones. Thoughts. Anyone eat there recently, had other dishes etc...
I'm resurrecting this post because I just had my first Peninsula experience last night.
I had the Pattaya Soft Shell Crab. I've never had soft shell crab before and it took a few seconds for my brain to process the fact that you eat the whole thing. The presentation was lovely and the portion was huge, like 2-3 person huge. The bright orange sauce wasn't nearly as off-putting at the dim lighting of the restaurant as it is today as leftovers under my office's fluorescents. Bright orange sauce or no, I liked it a lot. The crab is deep fried in a tempura-like batter and served with green peppers, red onions, and mango. The sauce is like a fruity, spicy sweet-and-sour. I didn't think it was overly spicy but my nose was running while I was eating it.... The cilantro really helped brighten up the flavors. The only downside of this dish was that a few of the mango slices weren't quite 100% ripe yet, but then again I like my mango to practically melt in my mouth.
I also had the Green Bean With Grass Jelly Freeze drink. I was aiming for something with tapioca pearl from the moment I walked in and saw those huge straws by the register, but they were out of tapioca for the evening. The drink was pleasant enough, nothing to write home about, and absolutely loaded with grass jelly. I'll have to look that up and see what exactly that is. The beans had a very pleasant texture and tasted more grassy than the grass jelly itself.
My husband had the Crispy Onion Braised Duck. It was half a duck (!) braised in a tasty brown soy-based sauce. It was just sweet enough to give it some depth and there was a smoky hint in there somewhere. The sweet onions were fried with the same batter my crab was, I think, and served atop the duck. The meat was moist and fatty in a good way. There was no crispy skin here, just tender meat braised until medium-well.
For dessert we had the Banana Filled Malaysian Pancake. It's a little plain-looking, but I thought it was really good. Very homey. It arrives looking like a quesadilla. The pancake is doughy and satisfying. The bananas tasted like they were cooked in coconut milk.
The ambiance was nice. It was a Monday night so it wasn't exactly packed. They kept us all down at the end with the windows, but despite the close quarters it still felt intimate. My (musician) husband noted the extensive use of acoustical tiles that made conversation and kitchen noise sound much less cavernous than the space. The service was extremely friendly and helpful. Our lovely server put up with our questions and offered up some recommendations. The runner was also friendly, as was the hostess who offered to put our take-out containers into a bag.
If you've never been, grab some friends, grab the coupon off their website, and share some dishes. I know this place gets mixed reviews here but I still think it's worth giving it a shot. I'll be going back soon to try the salty tofu dish that some have mentioned (though I don't remember seeing it on the menu last night).
I just got back from over three weeks in Singapore. The chili crab is a Singapore signature dish. Like at Peninsula, the sauce is a mix of hot, spicy, and sweet as you describe. Tradition there is to eat it not with rice but with strange little sweet crispy buns that you drag through the gravy.
I personally like Peninsula. I'm glad we have it here in MSP.
Thanks for the report.
Oh, and grass jelly drink and corn drink are both staples in the hawker centres in Singapore.
Hey Loren, Wouldn't you also agree the bones in the chicken is another staple in Singapore! THe first time it happened to me I was horrified (because it hurt to swallow). The girl I was with said, oh - you don't want bones, just as them to take them out (as if I was supposed to know, apparently the bones do add SOMETHING to the dish besides a lot of cautious eating). May want to try this @ the restaurant, too ;)
PS - THANKS for the coupon tip!! :)
Bones in chicken are a staple in most "ethnic" cuisine. There are several places in MSP where you can get bone-in chicken and duck dishes. One notable exception in Singapore is the Hainan Chicken Rice. That's a boneless breast chopped and served on a bed of rice with a brown sauce. Very different from most Singapore food, which is usually noodle-based.
After getting back from Singapore, I thought about starting a philosophical thread about the white-bread nature of "boneless, skinless chicken breasts" in US grocery stores, and what kind of comment that makes about the American desire for blandness.
On the one hand, all that tasty food made me realize that MSP is falling far short of its potential in the Asian food category - we have most of the ingredients available here in town, but apparently not the will to eat them. On the other hand, I am happy that MSP has a chow-friendly eating environment similar to the hawker centres with Midtown Global, Mercado Central, and Eat Street.
And yes, it's a challenge to eat bone-in chicken or duck with chopsticks and a spoon, but once you get the hang of it, it's OK.
Even when I did eat bird and mammal I couldn't stand boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I was mostly raised by my dad and it seemed like every night was a rotation of b/s chicken or turkey. Of course, here in Minnesota we take bland and make it blander by throwing everything in a casserole with egg noodles and cream of x or y and calling it "hotdish." No wonder we're all starving for ethnic food around here.
I agree that we're sorely lacking in good Asian restaurants in these parts. With all the Hmong, Korean, Vietnamese, and other SE Asian communities around here, I wonder what the reason is?
The one thing I really, really wish we had that would make total sense in this frozen hole (sorry, it's the early-onset seasonal affective disorder) is a huge indoor farmer's market like Cleveland has. The MGM is great, but it pales in comparison to that behemoth. And don't get me started on the Minneapolis Farmer's Market. I've heard it described as a "stroller hell" and I strongly agree. And the downtown one... well, Nicollet Avenue's sidewalks would never be big enough.
I assume that the tofu dish you mention is the spicy golden tofu. It's one of my favorite things at Peninsula. It's great if you eat it at the restaurant but does not survive take out as well as some other things.
I also recommend the hot pots. I'm still working my way through the menu and try to make it there every month or so.
Peninsula Malaysian Cuisine
2608 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408
I haven't eaten here, but wanted to add a bit about Malaysian curries. It's traditional to chop up and use whole chicken pieces vs. boneless chicken. This preparation is far more authentic, and yes, it does usually mean there are bone pieces in the curry.
You could complain, but it seems like a shame to discourage the traditional method, which is likely more flavorful. How did it _taste_? That's the important part. ;)