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Aug 16, 2007 06:20 PM

Malaysian cuisine in Calgary?

I visited Singapore for the first time in May and had my first taste of Malaysian food: nasi goreng, a fish curry, and sautéed okra with chilies and garlic (I think). Strangely, a craving for this wonderful food is only hitting me now, but no one I know can suggest a good restaurant.

A board search only turned up Tropika—would the Malaysian cuisine aficionados please share their favourite haunts?

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  1. Aside from Malaysian-ish dishes at places like Pebble Street, as far as I know, Tropika is the only pure Malaysian place in town.

    "Spice Cafe" is a budding coffeehouse chain with sandwiches and such that is popping up all over town, and the owner used to own the terrific Malay Wok in Chinatown in the space that is now Han's. At some locations (like the one on 11th Ave SW near Broken City), there is Malaysian curry w/ your choice of meat on the menu and I think it's quite tasty- but unless the menu has changed, that's it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: John Manzo

      Thanks, John Manzo! I'll check out Spice Cafe on the weekend.

    2. Tropika is a great restaurant for those dishes. Nasi goreng is a favourite (made regularly in Holland). If I'm not making it from scratch, I'll hit Tropika to satisfy my craving for it!

      1. We tried Tropika tonight for the first time and were very pleased. They have real Mai Tais for one thing. Actually their whole drink list looked like my Trader Vic's cocktail book.

        My husband had the sate. I just tried the peanut sauce because we had just had sate the other night at home. The peanut sauce tastes like mine. I'll take that as support for the authenticity of mine.

        We also had Homestyle Chicken, Singapore Noodles, Deep Fried Fish in Sweet and Sour Sauce and Coconut Prawn Curry. Everything was good. It was spicy about to my tolerance but never over. The server insisted on bringing me water. I guess I was glowing.

        Overall a great experience. Oh, except pass on dessert but that's typical according to my memories of Penang. We've been to Singapore but I don't recall anything other than the sate at the Rasa Singapura but then we did visit over and over.

        Thanks for bringing this place to our attention. We'll be going back.

        1. We visited Tropika yesterday for lunch. We tried the Sambal Bunchies, Mee Goreng, and Sayur Kari. All came with just enough heat as sharonanne found. Unfortunately, I have a peanut allergy, so I couldn't try many of the menu items. I had forgotten that Malaysian food often has peanuts in its sauces.

          The curry was a bit watery for my taste, but that might be how the dish is meant to be. The bunchies/green beans were perfect. They were sautéed with the right amount of sambal sauce (not too wet or dry)--and the sauce had a good balance of chilies, tamarind, and garlic. The mee/noodles reminded me a bit of Chinese "Shanghai Noodles."

          All in all, the food we tried was well-spiced and -balanced but not extraordinary. I try Spice Cafe next and report back.

          8 Replies
          1. re: aktivistin

            The coconut prawn curry wasn't watery. This is the problem with such a large menu. It's hard to compare experiences. That's why I was so specific about what we had.

            It was also darned hard to order from that menu and I have Gordon Ramsay flashbacks where I wonder if the kitchen can manage such variety. Then I noticed a lot of the variety came from using the same sauces on varying meats. I'd still be open to suggestions for what is good. I noticed a lot of 'not really Malaysian' dishes on the menu but since it does seem to be somewhat of a crossroads in Asia that wasn't all that far off.

            1. re: sharonanne

              Now I wish we had tried a coconut curry instead. Perhaps they use the same sauce for both coconut and non-coconut curries, but use coconut milk to fill out the taste and texture of the former? I agree about the difficulty in comparing experiences across a large menu made even more difficult by the array of cuisines on offer--Thai, Malaysian, Chinese, etc.

              1. re: sharonanne

                My family will usually order at least one or sometimes two different laksa dishes, depending on our mood. And I love mee goreng in general so we usually get one dish of that as well. Roti is a must too.

                1. re: anonymoose

                  we definatly need more selection of malaysian food! Tropika is really the only option . . . hopefully Banana Leaf from Van decides to expand their rests. to Calgary like Tropika

                  1. re: bobthebuilder

                    I wonder how busy Tropika is. We were there on a Friday evening between 8 and 9. It was pretty quiet. At that time it would be impossible to get in to many mainstream places. Maybe that's one reason I liked it.

                    1. re: sharonanne


                      Most people go from Monday - Thursday when the satay is half price. I've been a couple times on the weekend, and it was quite empty. Busier at lunch and on the given days.

                      1. re: yen

                        The food at Tropika is NOT authentic Malaysian cuisine. It's made to look like Malaysian or Singaporean food. Singapore laksa should have Daun Kesum (laksa leaves) in them but they don't even have that. That makes the dish what it is.

                  2. re: anonymoose

                    the Roti at Malay Wok was the best and I haven't been able to find any in Calgary. The owner use to make it right in front of you (stretching the dough in the air and cooking it on the hot table grill).

                    Anyone know where they make fresh roti chanai???

              2. Tropica in Edmonton and Vancouver is pretty good, but the Calgary restaurant has been really lacking ever since it opened. I've given it many tries and have never been very impressed.

                I've had spice cafe's curry a few times. The sauce is decent but not that flavorful since its not really cooked with the meat, they kinda just put the sauce on top of meat.

                I used to eat the Thai Curry I think it was called at Sun Chiu Kee a lot, and even though its called Thai curry I always thought it was closer to a malay curry than Tropicas.

                4 Replies
                1. re: szw

                  Thanks for the tip about Sun Chiu Kee's Thai Curry. I'll have to check that out. It's funny that Calgary Court offers something called "Malay Curry" when their Thai Curry is actually close(r?) to the real thing.

                  1. re: aktivistin

                    Calgary Court and Sun Chiu Kee (now just "Sun's," right?) have the same owners and pretty identical menues...

                  2. re: szw

                    I was there last night (Calgary) and I wasn't that impressed either. It wasn't bad. It just wasn't that great. We had a curry beef dish and this chicken + veggies in a coconut dish. The coconut presentation was cool, but I got the feeling they marinate their meats in a generic marinade, and then cook them with whatever sauce you order. The meats themselves didn't have much flavour - it was all the sauce. Also, the texture of the beef seemed a little weird but I can't put my finger on it.

                    1. re: szw

                      Yea, the Tropika in edmonton is better, but they use quite a bit of m.s.g. which i'm really sensitive to so I rash out crazy.

                      The curry at Spice Cafe is cooked with the meat, if you are ordering the curry chicken on rice or the curry beef on rice. The curry beef sub however isn't but the sauce I still like, considering it doesn't contain m.s.g. and is similar to curry i've had in malaysia.