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Aux Epices, New Malaysian in C'town: anyone try it yet?

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  1. I have to aadmit that I am suspicious, it seems very much like fusion place. But I welcome hearing other opinions!

    5 Replies
    1. re: swannee

      There's nothing wrong with "fusion" if it tastes good.

      I mean, what we know as "Malaysian Cuisine" is a fusion cuisine to begin with. One of the fusioniest, really.

        1. re: sgordon

          Good point. And I didn't say I don't like fusion, just that a menu like this one--with a bit of this and bit of that--makes me leery.

          1. re: sgordon

            Hahaah!!! l've totally been blind to that this whole time.

            1. re: sgordon

              Right. But it's full of flavor. Fusion of Malaysian food with what some Malaysians call (or used to call) "Makanan Orang Putih" ("White People's Food") usually ends up being tawar (=tasteless).

          2. I had Seafood Laksa for lunch about 2 weeks ago and I was under whelmed. The broth ( coconut curry ) lacked any real complexity and despite asking for Spicy it was on the mild side. the seafood part was skimpy , a couple of shrimp and a few pieces of Squid .I am not planning to return.

            1 Reply
            1. re: hoi lai

              Ah, well. Thanks for the report!

            2. I have eaten there twice for dinner and I actually really like the place! I like it better than New Malaysia in the Bowery/Elizabeth tunnel which is my other go-to Malaysian in Chinatown. I feel like the dishes at Aux Epices have a bit more personal touch to them, it feels like they are cooked with a bit more care.

              I had the seafood laksa both times and really liked it; I thought the broth had an almost buttery bouillabaise-like flavor.

              I've also tried the satay, grilled chicken, and beef rendang. I really liked the grilled chicken; it was very tender and tastes much more interesting than it sounds (it's on the menu with a Malaysian name).

              The owner is also an interesting character.
              It is definitely worth a try.

              9 Replies
              1. re: pravit

                The plot thickens! l'll definitely give it a try.

                1. re: howdini

                  menu - definitely fusion-y, but im glad they kept the menu small:

                  dave cook got to it already:

                  1. re: Lau

                    The Seafood Laksa that Dave talks about sounds like a very different dish than what I had. He had it for Dinner which might explain the difference in the Seafood included in the Laksa ( it cost more at dinner ) but the woman who is the Chef and is from Malaysia was cooking when I was there and the soup was BLAH.

                    1. re: hoi lai

                      yah ill give it a whirl. i have never really had good laksa in the US, so id be curious to see how it is. although i know dave cook has traveled over there quite a bit, so i want to check it out

                      1. re: Lau

                        I agree about the quality of the Laksa here especially Asam Laksa which is a travesty in comparison with what you get in Penang.

                        1. re: hoi lai

                          ahh you're talking penang, so you talking about asam laksa or curry laksa?

                          i dont really like asam laksa, i love curry laksa

                          1. re: Lau

                            I am talking about Curry Laksa as regards Aux Epices . I happen to also like Asam Laksa and was lamenting the poor quality that I have encountered here . Curry Laksa in NYC is a sad affair but better than what is passed off as Asam Laksa.

                            1. re: hoi lai

                              ahh ok...i actually need to make it to penang, ive never been there so its possible ive just never had the real deal asam laksa, but even when i had it in singapore / malaysia i was never in love with it

                  2. re: howdini

                    I walked by couple times and read the review on Yelp prior to my visit. I got the seafood laska and the mussels.I already knew it would not be very authentic, judging by the udon dishes on the menu.

                    It was good but not good enough to drag me to Chinatown again just for it. I never been to Malaysia but I been to Singapore so I can only compare to the curry laska I have tried there. For curry laska, I prefer another Malay restaurant - Sanur, which is slightly more authentic.

                    I may stop by another time when I am in the hood - at least, the decor and vibe was way better than many other Chinatown eateries.

                2. ohhh so this is what this place was, i saw the name and was confused by it when i saw it

                  1. This ;is a good place, I think from a single try. we had very good lamb rendang (homestyle flavor and generous serving) together with small plates, duck rolls and rojak. The rojak was quite good, not as sweet as it often is, smoky. Its a family place, friendly, gregarious french man, malaysian wife and kids, pleasant ambiance and music a few bucks more expensive than chinatown dives, and worth a visit, I think. Other patrons all looked Malaysian or similar when we were there.

                    1. Finally got around to trying Aux Epices last night.

                      First, we'll put aside any discussion of "authentic" whatever - as most CHers know, my opinion on that is "authentic, aushmentic" - could care less, nor do I really believe in the concept of "authenticity" to begin with.

                      Second, it's ADORABLE. The owners are lovely - the husband was very involved with the diners, really engaging, and the wife would come out of the kitchen pretty regularly to check on everyone, see how they liked the food. The waiter (their son? He had a slight French accent, I thought) was great. Everyone looked like they were enjoying themselves and happy to be there. Makes me wish I'd been a regular at Franklin Station.

                      Third, I really enjoyed the food we had. We only tried three dishes, which was plenty food for the two of us - started with a rojak, everything was fresh (the tofu I'd have preferred unfried, as I find fried tofu gets a bit spongy as soon as it hits sauce) and it wasn't overly sweet. Had a strong sesame flavor - I'm guessing they toasted the seeds a bit before adding them. Didn't really have much spice / chili but it was a pleasant way to start the meal.

                      For entrees we had the Seafood Laksa and a Salmon in Turmeric Sauce. Normally I don't get salmon in Southeast Asian or Chinese restaurants - I generally only like wild salmon that's prepared rare. In this style of cooking it's usually cooked through, and at this price point it'll be farmed salmon for sure. But it was really good, while cooked through it was still moist and flaky, and the sauce covered that "farmed" flavor just fine. My only reason for wishing I'd ordered something else was that flavor-wise, it was similar to the laksa, which I thought was great. Had a nice (but not overwhelming) heat from the chilies, and the broth was nice and complex, growing more so as you ate it, with more briney flavor seeping out of the seafood as you went along. The last bites were the best, as the funkiness of the shrimp paste became more prevalent. Was it a little odd to have udon noodles in it? As I said before - authentic, aushmentic. Supposedly you can get it with different noodles if you ask, udon is just their default.

                      Anyway, we'll certainly be back to try some other dishes, the Rendang, Istimewa, and Tom Yam for sure. There were a few unexpected things on the menu that have me curious as well - like grilled sardines. Someone on Mouthfuls mentioned they had a duck confit at one point, might have been a special. We didn't have dessert but I've been told their fruit tarts are really good, so might save room for that next time.

                      1. Had the laksa there last week, the broth was so underwhelming and flavorless. I mean, if the instant laksa I can get from the chinese supermarket taste better than the restaurant's, that's not very reassuring is it?

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: divinebaboon

                          I liked what I ate at this restaurant but I did not try the laksa. Wondering whether there are any NY restaurants that prepare laksa that you like?

                          1. re: jen kalb

                            From my research on chowhound, it seems all restaurants in NYC that serve Laksa serve "watered down" inauthentic versions....*sigh* I think I'll still go eat some more and see for myself though, because I've never been to SE asia so what do I know about authenticity?

                            1. re: divinebaboon

                              Here's all you need to know:

                              You liked something or you didn't.

                              After that, authenticity is irrelevant.

                              1. re: sgordon

                                Things should be authentically delicious.

                              2. re: divinebaboon

                                I had the Seafood Laksa at Aux Epices for lunch a few weeks ago, and it was...fine. Inoffensive. Nothing really wrong with it, but nothing really right with it either. The restaurant is pleasant to sit in, and the staff friendly, which improved the experience. A while back, I got Asam Laksa at Nyonya, which was more interesting (albeit not all that spicy). Maybe check out New Malaysia? I enjoyed my Seafood Ton (sic) Yum Mee Hoon, which I think is actually Thai and not Malaysian. Anyway, it was good.