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Penang Malaysia Food Court

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equinoise Mar 29, 2011 02:22 PM

I had seen this place several weeks ago on my way into Henry's Taiwan. I am a fan of Malay Satay Hut, and it was obvious that Penang is connected to the Hut somehow, if for no other reason than it featured cut and paste sections from MSH menus, apparently advertising its service of identical dishes. Still, on a first visit Penang's relationship with MSH remains unclear, and the server I spoke with adamantly denied common ownership, but mumbled something about "food...same." Hmmm.

I ordered "Singapore Curry Noodle Soup" to go and was presented with a fairly rich, tumeric-heavy broth and steaming rice vermicelli. While I had never tried the same or similar preperation at MSH, Penang's soup was comparatively light on the proteins to most Hut specials, and I was able to fish out only a few pieces of sliced fried tofu and a shard of cantonese-style BBQ pork. The flavor was well better than adequate, and the price ($6.99) certainly places it on the repeat list for an ID lunch, at which point I will select an item that MSH does offer for a juxtaposition. Penang can certainly use some help on decor and menu simplification. It's paneled walls are covered with a ransom note-style amalgamation of assorted food photos and chalk-scrawled names of different items at various price levels, and its paper lunch menus are two: a badly formatted list of the Malay specials, and an off-the-shelf bi-fold of dull Chinese-American standards that could be offered at every other address in the ID.

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Malay Satay Hut
212 12th Ave S, Seattle, WA

  1. h
    HungWeiLo Mar 30, 2011 08:35 AM

    "Ethnic" (for a lack of a better term) restaurants often pirate each others' menus word for word. So this does not necessarily imply common ownership.

    Although if it is indeed owned by the owners of Malay Satay Hut - I would personally avoid this place like the plague, then. There are very very few things in this world that conjure up images of hate and violence within me - Malay Satay Hut is one of them.

    Walking by this place, the pictures they put up certainly did not look very interesting or appealing to me. In fact, as I was walking past, a nearby little boy vocally noted the similarity of one of its curry dishes to human bowel movement (which I actually agreed with at the time). So you're absolutely right about them needing to spiff up their advertising.

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    Malay Satay Hut
    212 12th Ave S, Seattle, WA

    10 Replies
    1. re: HungWeiLo
      e
      equinoise Mar 31, 2011 12:22 PM

      HWL - I am surprised by your vitriol over Malay Satay Hut. I would agree that their practice of extreme unpredictability in open hours is frustrating, but I enjoy the food very much. What is it that irks you?

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      Malay Satay Hut
      212 12th Ave S, Seattle, WA

      1. re: equinoise
        h
        HungWeiLo Mar 31, 2011 10:18 PM

        I was likewise surprised by your praise of MSH, as I would have thought this would be on your thumbs-down list for sure. I find my likings to align quite closely to yours most of the time. :-)

        I personally find MSH to provide sloppily-made, unauthentic Malaysian/Singaporean for exorbitant prices with bad service (they do hit all 3 for me). I distinctly remember their shredded coconut-breaded shrimp for $26. This dish had all of 10 medium-sized shrimp. Where else have you had shrimp for $2.60 each? Certainly not in the ID or some Redmond strip mall. I have family in Malaysia and Singapore, and their food just tastes "off" - not unlike the suspicious Cantonese-run joints that operate as "Thai" or "Japanese" places. I taste a lot of suspiciously store-bought sauce bases. I suppose it's the result of a lack of competition around here for this type of food. To me, what they're doing is pretty shameful when compared to what places like Noodle Boat is doing for Thai around here - who promote and present originality, authenticity, and attention to detail with their offerings.

        There was a MSH in Portland closed after a brief appearance. The verdict down there from my friends and family was also pretty bad. The one time we all went - it was even worse than my experience in Redmond.

        I've always noticed a distinct lack of SE Asian clientele eating there, despite the sizeable population of Malays and Singaporeans working in Redmond/Bellevue - can't get more of a thumbs down than that. Or maybe I wouldn't be so critical if they charged prices more in line with what they were serving.

        The other place around here that I reserve my vitriol for is Thai Tom. That's a story for another day. :-)

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        Thai Tom
        4543 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105

        Noodle Boat
        700 NW Gilman Blvd Ste E104B, Issaquah, WA 98027

        1. re: HungWeiLo
          e
          equinoise Apr 1, 2011 12:15 PM

          I have no personal connections to Malay/Singapore, and have never visited. I will say that I have been to several Malay/Singaporean restaurants back east that garnered praise, e.g. Skyway in NYC and Kopitam in D.C., and I think MSH compares fairly favorably.

          I have never been to the Redmond branch, nor Portland, only ID, and maybe that accounts for some of it. To each his own, I suppose.

          1. re: equinoise
            h
            HungWeiLo Apr 4, 2011 08:45 AM

            And with all that said - I am interested in trying the restaurant you originally referenced (bad advertisement photos notwithstanding). I'll probably get a chance to go in the next couple weeks...

          2. re: HungWeiLo
            Teknotic Apr 3, 2011 08:32 PM

            Hung, I have heard nothing but terrible things about the Redmond location personally. From my understanding though, it has something to do with a bad manager that they have working for them. Have you been to the ID location before? Is it the same way in your mind? Because I, like equinoise, have no personal experience with Malaysian or Singapore food previously, but have enjoyed MSH on the three occasions I have been there. Although if they are indeed just using store bought sauce mixes from a can, I would also find that to be very reprehensible. I go out to eat to try foods that I would otherwise not know how to prepare.

            Speaking of your family from Singapore, do you have a good recipe for Laksa?!?! I've always wanted to try it, but haven't seen it on any menus before.

            1. re: Teknotic
              h
              HungWeiLo Apr 4, 2011 08:40 AM

              There used to be some (or at least a close-enough variant of) Laksa at a noodle shop right by the 65th St park and ride (the one under I-5). Although I think they're not there anymore. I'll check with the fam and see if they have any recipes.

              I have not been to the MSH in the ID. Although my experiences in Redmond and Portland are very discouraging to say the least (Keep in mind that the closed MSH in Portland is in the Fubonn shopping center - with high numbers of Asian shoppers trafficking through there everyday). It would have to be 1000 times better to redeem itself in my mind. To me, what I've sampled thus far is no better in quality than the countless low-quality pan-Asian eateries around here. But I respect you guys' collective opinions and will try the ID location when I get the chance. It's certainly very possible that my childhood memories may be unfairly clouding my judgment and I'm just holding these guys up to some imaginary and impossibly high standard. But despite this, I still stand by my previous statements that their stuff just isn't up to par with other Asian offerings around here (at least not at their current price point), which is not a sky-high standard to begin with.

            2. re: HungWeiLo
              p
              PAO Apr 4, 2011 03:30 PM

              I have spent a lot of time in Malaysia and Singapore and have eaten in a lot of food courts/street food stalls in both countries. Is Malay Satay Hut as good as the best there is in Malaysia and Singapore? Of course not. Is it the best we can get in this area? So far as I know. If you know a better place to get roti canai or char kway teow, let me know, because I'll be there in a flash. And I disagree that there are not a lot of SE Asians eating at Malay Satay Hut. When I go there, there are usually several. That said, I won't eat their oyster omelets or their Hainanese chicken rice or even any of their large noodle bowls, because they're not close enough to what I remember from Singapore/Malaysia. I don't know how you'd replicate the oyster omelet because the oysters here are very different.

              If you've ever eaten in Japan, you will know that what passes as Japanese food in most restaurants here is a far cry from what is available in Japan. But that is what we have to work with.

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              Malay Satay Hut
              212 12th Ave S, Seattle, WA

              1. re: PAO
                h
                HungWeiLo Apr 4, 2011 08:11 PM

                Agreed. And will readily concede that it's difficult to match the quality of foods away from their native lands. That's why I mentioned that it's possible I may be judging them rather harshly using double standards. Although authenticity aside, I still fail to see how they justify the prices that they charge - but that's simply a function of supply and demand as you've already mentioned.

                1. re: PAO
                  c
                  clearskies0810 Apr 5, 2011 09:08 PM

                  FWIW, the closest thing I've had to spore/malay streetfood in seattle is from Satay Seattle in Wallingford, a relative newcomer. Their satay is leaps and bounds better than Malay Satay Hut, and their laksa and roti are quite good too.

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                  Malay Satay Hut
                  212 12th Ave S, Seattle, WA

                  1. re: clearskies0810
                    n
                    not the bad Steve Apr 7, 2011 04:32 PM

                    Has anybody else had a chance to evaluate Satay in Wallingford?

                    My one attempt to go was shortly after they opened, and they were out of satays (???) at about 5p.

          3. p
            PAO Mar 30, 2011 12:23 PM

            I was wondering about this place, having spent many happy days in Penang. Thanks for pre-testing for me. I'll be interested in any future experiences you have. FYI, we ate at Malay Satay Hut in Seattle for the first time in a long time and it looked like they had spiffed the place up again. Perhaps they'll spend more time making it more reliably open. Food was good as always.

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            Malay Satay Hut
            212 12th Ave S, Seattle, WA

            1. Charles Apr 5, 2011 06:08 PM

              FYI http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/voraci...

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