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Aug 20, 2014 06:38 AM

Pasar Malam- Malaysian restaurant in Williamsburg

"Pasar malam" means "night market" in Malay and the interior and the menu of this restaurant both stick pretty close to that as a theme. Opened in the space across from Samurai Mama that was formally Neo Sensation Shanghai, the restaurant is done up in a bit of a market motif with simple backlit white signs advertising dishes as if they are market stalls. There's a pleasant bar and a deep open kitchen with a cadre of chefs of what looks like, for what it's worth, several ethnicities. The restaurant is run by the people behind Laut.

The menu is pretty ambitious and varied as you might find at an actual hawker market. It's also a bit oddly labeled- i.e. there is a section called "Entree" and another called "Main". There's a ton of Malaysian and Singaporean standards on there, including a few Thai and Indonesian dishes thrown in. The roti section alone lists 9 different types, including a couple of wacky takes like Roti Elvis (peanut butter and banana) and s'mores.

So far my favorite dish that I have tried is the asam laksa, which is currently the last item listed on the menu at the very bottom, buried under the "Soup Noodle" heading. Not to be confused with curry laksa, asam laksa is not made with coconut milk nor curry, but with a heavy dose of tamarind. Along with a sardine gravy and fresh herbs, the dish has a rich complex sour and spicy taste to it. It's served on some lai fun noodles. At $15 it is a little bit pricey, as there is no protein other than the gravy, but it is quite filling and good.

The Singaporean chili crab is also quite tasty. The twist here is that they use fried soft shell crabs instead of hard shells. The crabs are nicely sized and the sauce is quite addictive. It's served with a couple of mantou that are incapable of sopping up all the sauce. You'll need more or some rice.

The nasi lemak was good...The kang kong okra could have used some more belacan and less oil I thought...The beef rendang is totally skippable...An order of noodles (the char kway teow I believe) was oily and tasteless and the noodles not done well....And a red snapper wrapped in banana leaf had a tangy "curry salsa" but the fish smelled too fishy.

This is what I have tried so far. Looking forward to explore the menu more, as well as hear what others have to say.

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  1. I went there recently as well. I thought the asam laksa was very good. The roti canai and tom yum soup were good as well and am looking forward to trying the other rotis.
    I satay babi (pork belly) was very good. My wife really liked the oyster omelet but that's not really my thing so I can't speak for it.
    I thought the nasi lemak was pretty average but on par with what you would find in Malaysia. My wife and I always get the same thing on our first visit to Malaysian restaurants and base whether or not to return on their quality. We will definitely return and try other dishes.

    1. ah interesting, i saw this place on eater i think

      1. Village Voice reviewer,Zachary Feldman,"Pasar Malam: the city's best Malaysian restaurant."

        1 Reply
        1. re: Rmis32

          It was very good but I still prefer Taste Good in Elmhurst.