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New Malaysia Review with Question

Hey, folks ...

I had a late lunch today at New Malaysia in the Chinatown Arcade at 46 Bowery earlier today.

I've declared this week the National Foodmonk Week of Malaysian Restaurants. I'm going to try to eat at a Malaysian restaurants every day this week (except Tuesday, because I have something else planned). Heh.

Anyway ...

This was my first time eating at New Malaysia. Decor is a bit on the modest side and it's in the interior of the arcade, which gives it a bit of a claustrophobic feel -- windows only into the covered alley -- but I thought it was actually kind of homey and cheery. Service was very prompt and cheerful ... Staff seemed happy to see me, the only non-Chinese or Chinese-Malaysian person there. English is spoken.

I ordered the roti canai and the chicken with asparagus in black bean sauce. I also tried to order the achat salad, but the waitress said that they were out of today. Grrr.

Anyway, the roti canai -- basically a zillion-calorie piece of flatbread fried in oil of some sort -- was sublime, beautifully flaky and delicious. It comes with a small bowl of sauce that contained one lump of potato and one lump of (mystery) meat. The sauce seemed to be based on coconut milk and contained chili oil ... not sure what else, but delicious.

The chicken and asparagus with black bean sauce was also very good. Asparagus was quite mature, but chopped into slices and I really didn't mind. However ... This dish is one that definitely has Chinese origins -- the black bean sauce is a garlic/soy sauce/black bean concoction that could really be found a zillion other places in the city, I suppose. I guess I was thinking that this would be something more Malaysian-y, rather than Chinese. I was wrong, but it was still delightful and better than you might get elsewhere at a typical Chinese restaurant.

So ...

I left feeling like I should really make another trip, but I'm hoping that someone can chime in with a suggestion about what else I should order. The menu is very large and I found myself quite overwhelmed.

Any idea what else is good on the menu at New Malaysia? Anything that might stand out as being a bit more different from Chinese food?

Not criticizing here ... The meal was very good. I left very satisfied and, in fact, wanting more.

New Malaysia
48 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

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  1. i'm partial to nasi lemak, which is a coconut rice dish usually served with a curry chicken, dried fish in some sweet and sour sauce and some pickled vegetables (served slightly differently in asia, but thats the way they always serve it in the US)....i'm biased though since i almost alwayas order that at every malay restaurant b/c its hard to mess up and i used to eat it everyday when i lived in singapore

    1 Reply
    1. re: Lau

      Thanks! I appreciate the recommendation ... I'll go back and try it out!

    2. If they have this chicken order called the thai chicken, you should order that. The sauce is goooood! It's usually poured on top of the chicken. Penang's has this order and that's usually our favorite.
      I've been wanting to give New Malaysia a try for quite a while but always hesitant to go in because it's in the arcade. Maybe I'll give it a shot next time I'm in Chinatown!

      1 Reply
      1. re: wench31

        Yes, this dish was recently added to their menu.

      2. Their Hainan Chicken rice is quite good. I also like their fish head soup.

        2 Replies
        1. re: kobetobiko

          Thanks for the recommendation. I can tell already that I'll have to bring someone along so that we can order a wider variety of things.

          1. re: foodmonk

            oh, you owe it to yourself! even a party of three can do some real damage at places like this where plates are mostly all under $8 or $10 and you can try a bunch of things.

        2. Nyonya does a better roti IMO. Its hand made so its lighter. Skyway, sanur and new malaysia serves what looks like the frozen prepackaged ones. And thats not mystery meat in your dipping sauce. Its what I call the best part at the end of the rainbow.. chicken.
          Ask your waitstaff what vegetable is fresh today. They're honest. Have them do that with the chicken but this time try it with the belacan sauce instead.
          Stuffed curry combination. Its peppers and vegetables stuffed with fish patty in curry broth. You can order it with or without noodles.
          Hainese chicken over rice if u like ginger scallion dipping sauce. Or Spicy thai chicken which is the same chicken but a with a spicy dried shallot dipping sauce. I'm more partial to the latter.
          Beef rendang.
          Don't forget the shaved ice for dessert.

          2 Replies
          1. re: csw

            Awesome ...

            I went to Nyonya for dinner tonight and also ordered the roti canai. It did seem like quite a different animal. The flatbread was very large and almost translucently thin. Will post a review tomorrow with pics.

            1. re: csw

              second on the curry stuff combo, and last I went, we also had the hollow vegetables in belacan sauce (perfect)

            2. Definitely go for the achat, but my all-time fave is the curried beef brisket, as soup, or over rice.

              1. Just checking in to report that New Malaysia is still going strong. Went in this afternoon for a late lunch at 3:00 pm. and the place was nearly full, with several tables of Asian customers eating Hainanese Chicken Rice and several tables of bewildered tourists. I had one of the curry noodle soups, which was a perfect antidote for a day like today.

                New Malaysia
                48 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

                2 Replies
                1. re: foodmonk

                  best dish in my opinion is okra with belacan.

                2. Hope it's ok to reignite this thread.

                  Just wondered if anyone could tell a couple of London 'hounds which Malaysian restaurant to choose for a low-key dinner - New Malaysia, Nyonya or somewhere else? Just looking for great rendang, roti canai, char kwey teow and teh tarik. Chinatown area is ideal but can travel.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: PigsOnTour

                    well to temper your expectations malaysian food is not very good in NY

                    rendang: have not found a good rendition
                    roti canai: i like overseas version the best
                    char kway teow: overseas has the best version
                    teh tarik: have not found a good version and everything you will have is likely some packaged kind, the only place that might have it is sanur (a non-packaged version), who has decent wat dan hor if u like that

                    here's my review of overseas:

                    taste good in elmhurst was the best, but i heard its gone downhill since they sold the restaurant although i can verify that since i havent been since they sold it

                    nyonya: i don't like this place although it is popular, never been impressed by the food here

                    new malaysia: its been a while since ive been here, so i wont comment on it

                    sanur: i think sanur can be decent, but dishes are hit or miss. their wat dan hor and their lontong is decent, i think their ngor hiang is alright as well

                    laut: this place is popular as well, ive been there and thought it was so so, but it was a while ago, so i think id need to go back to properly judge it

                    1. re: Lau

                      Like Lau, I'm mostly disappointed by the Malaysian food scene here. I'd kill for fiery dried anchovy sambal w/coconut rice, but my local spot (New Malaysia) just doesn't thrill me.

                    2. re: PigsOnTour

                      Just finished lunch from Nyonya and it was fine, for a delivery to the office work lunch. Solid rendang and roti canai. Interesting ribs. If I was serious about this and a visitor I would try Laut just because there are many good reports and I wonder why it got a Michelin star. It does look very nice as well. When in doubt follow the advise of Lau.

                      Laut on Serious Eats: http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2012/0...

                      1. re: stuartlafonda

                        Thanks guys - it's great to have some local opinions. It sounds like Malaysian places in London really - some good, some just ok, but nothing I'd suggest that a visitor go out of their way for. I'll add the Overseas and the rest to our map just in case and maybe start looking at a trip to Malaysia for next year! Thanks again.

                        1. re: PigsOnTour

                          there are many many other things i would eat in NY before i looked for malaysian

                          what r u looking for exactly?

                          1. re: PigsOnTour

                            Pigs: I went to a Malaysian place in London's Chinatown called Rasa Sayang, and my food there tasted like things I could get at stalls in Malaysia. There is NOTHING, _ABSOLUTELY NOTHING_ in New York that is remotely comparable to that.

                          2. re: stuartlafonda

                            Michelin knows nothing about Malaysian food; that's my takeaway.

                            Laut is good only if you get the right server. When I found out that unless I got a server who was from Malaysia, Indonesia, or Singapore and knew me, I would get absolutely no hot pepper and very little belacan and was still paying $30-something for meals, I stopped going.

                            1. re: Pan

                              Thanks Pan - Rasa Sayang is pretty good, so if I can't better that in NYC, I won't try!

                              Lau - We have a free evening on our itinerary so I was just checking out options near our hotel so we have enough to choose from. Looks like I'll skip Malaysian and stick to NYC specialties.

                              1. re: PigsOnTour

                                where is your hotel? i can give u some recs

                                is there a specific type of food you want? what is your price range? (USD per person)

                                1. re: Lau

                                  We'll be on Mulberry St. We got some great recs on another thread where I posted our general itinerary but if you had any don't-miss recs for Chinatown, that would be great. We love Sichuan and dim sum in particular. No budget.

                        2. Try the asparagus---or better still either okra or ong choy--with belachan for a real Malaysian taste. They do both well there.