Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
Nov 7, 2009 08:40 PM

Malaysian restaurants in NYC

Do NOT go to Nyonya on Grand St. It is a watered down, bland, tasteless, yucky tasting so-called "Malaysian" food. I am a Malaysian living in NYC and I went there a couple of nights ago with my Msian friend who had not had Msian food for a long time. We had high expectations since it had so many good reviews and awards but after tasting their nasi lemak, indian mee goreng and pasembur - it was horrible!! Even the waitress admitted that the taste has been altered to suit the timid and less adventurous tastebuds of the gwailo Americans. We were so dissapointed, angry and so dissatisfied. We went to the next street on Elizabeth St to Penang hoping to find hokkien mee ladened with crispy pork fat but they said they did not have crispy pork fat (chee yow char) so we left.
My conclusion is that if you are a real Malaysian who can handle the heat, go down to Queens and you can find 80% like original Msian cuisine at certain restaurants. There are NO authentic Malaysian restaurants in Manhattan because to make $$, they have to tone down the flavors for the benefit of the gwailos. Gwailos - stay in Manhattan and eat the watered down versions. Do not come to Queens and spoil the market for us who can handle the real stuff.
Oh yeah, and also after eating at Nyonya, I had a tummy ache at night. Expensive and had to wait for half an hour somemore. Malaysians in NYC - Don't bother to eat Msian in Manhattan, go to the suburbs.

199 Grand St, New York, NY 10013

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. you write off manhattan after two bad places in chinatown? where are your recs for queens malaysian, along with dish recs for specials or particularly good renditions of authentic cuisine?

    1. I am also a Malaysian living in NYC and I love Nyonya. I admit they are inconsistent but it's where I go get my Malaysian fix and they are good more often than not. I love the Roti Canai, Nasi Lemak, Asam Laksa, Hainanese Chicken Rice, Char Kuey Teow, Crispy Golden Fried Squid. I'd suggest not writing it off just yet. I think it's pretty authentic and I'm highly doubtful that a trek out to Queens is worth the effort for the incremental improvement in authenticity.

      1 Reply
      1. re: iloveguacamole

        try some of Laut's dishes; pretty good. that is, if I'm not picking among the bottom heap of malaysian restaurants in chinatown, where I always end up defaulting to New Malaysia. Solid and dependable.

        edit: looking at your history, it looks like you DO like Laut!

      2. That's what you feel are representative of the Malaysian restaurants in Chinatown? I too do not like Nyonya (it's super trendy and in Little Italy for christ sakes!) and Penang (which is pretty much a chain restaurant! That's like calling McDonald's a mediocre burger joint.) I normally like to go to a place called New Malaysia Restaurant. It's in an alleyway. You walk down the Bowery and pass Canal Street towards East Broadway. Once you pass the bank, Duane Reade and I think 2 more storefronts, you'll see an alleyway. Head down halfway and you will find the restaurant. The food is always so flavorful and you can ask for them to make it extra spicy or mild without sacrificing flavor any way you ask for it. I love the typical Malaysian dishes they have but my current fav there are the curry noodle soups.

        New Malaysia
        48 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

        1 Reply
        1. re: blatantdream

          I second the New Malaysia Restaurant. I love, love the curry and the Hoi nam chicken.
          I also like all the stir fry dishes which have lots of wok hai.

        2. Jaya on Centre Street (in back of the Manhattan Detention Center) is really good. Near the courts, so if you're on jury duty, definitely check it out. I had an amazing tofu dish, which also had peppers stuffed with fish paste, in a curry broth, I apologize for not remembering the name, and some pickled vegetables, which were spicy and delicious.

          1. While I'm not sure the repeated gwailo references were necessary (for better or worse, gwailo patronage keeps Malaysian restaurants open in Manhattan, and I for one am grateful for that), this thread was really helpful. I prefer the chendol at Nyonya to that of New Malaysia, but I felt like an insider finding this alleyway restaurant, and their squid Malay style was spectacular - a riot of really fresh, interesting ingredients that definitely included Kecap Manis (sweet soy sauce). There was a leaf in the mix that looked like a cross between basil and mint, but had an almost candylike complexity - pandan leaf, maybe? At any rate, I will try some of the other dishes next time I go. Thanks for the tip!